How to find Inexpensive Helmets for Riding Horses
When you’re around horses, you need stuff; whether you’re just starting to ride, your child is just starting, or your old equipment is worn out. From apple flavored horse treats to zebra-striped wraps, even the little things add up fast.
If you’re just getting into riding, or back into it, you’ll need a helmet. Most stables offering beginner lessons have helmets available for riders to use, but you’ll probably decide you want to purchase your own at about the same time you decide you’re committed to taking lessons for the long term. You could go to your nearest tack store and buy a helmet new, but there are other options.
You don’t have to pay full price for a helmet. That said, safety must always be uppermost in your mind when shopping for any equipment for you or your horse. Helmets in particular are an item that many riders and parents should consider buying new. You just don’t know what a used helmet has been through that may compromise its effectiveness.
Before I go any further, it must be said that my family rides English and boards at a primarily English riding barn where jumping is taught. Because of that, helmets are required. Period. That is not the case with every discipline in the equine world. Wearing a helmet while riding is becoming more the norm, but it’s not the rule everywhere and in every situation. When I was a kid I rode western and never wore a helmet. I also played on a rusty metal playground at recess and was never asked to use my seatbelt in the car. Remember when hitchhiking was cool? I feel like everyone from my generation who is currently walking around has dodged a few bullets. I also believe that basic safety precautions, like helmets, can preserve your ability to process information like you’re reading right now.
Where can you find a helmet? Start at the ‘For Sale’ bulletin board where you ride. There might be helmets for sale because someone began taking lessons, bought a helmet and then quit riding. If you’re looking for one for a child, there might be families riding at the same stable where your child is taking lessons, having nearly new, outgrown helmets gathering dust in a closet. It you don't see the right helmet for sale, put up a ‘helmet wanted’ sign. If you get a response, you’ll know the history of the helmet and not have to pay full price. You’ll also be able to try it on.
Local tack swaps are my favorite resource for all things horse related. You can find used items or even new items that still have the tags on at great prices. To find tack swaps, talk to people where you ride. There are often flyers up at stables for upcoming tack swaps and you might be able to car pool out to the swap with other riders from the barn. Tack swaps benefit organizations that run them. Saddle clubs, 4-H groups, etc will often host an annual tack swap and a percentage of the proceeds will go to the club. You can find them online searching ‘tack swap,’ your state, and the current year. Horse fairs and expos also often include a tack swap. You might have to do some digging around on tables once you're there, but there are always treasures to be found at local tack swaps.
Tack stores are wonderful places. I’m a huge fan of them. They carry great, innovative products to make your life and your horse’s life easier. I just try to limit my time in them to when I have a coupon, or know there is a sale going on. The beauty of the tack store is that there is knowledgeable staff on hand to answer your questions about the products. For instance, “What’s the difference between this $40 helmet and this $140 helmet? They look the same.” Unless your trainer is with you, you’re not going to get that question answered at a tack swap. Also, at the tack store, you can try on multiple styles and colors of helmets to find the perfect fit for you and of course, they are all brand new. There are also the online tack stores to consider as well. If you sign up to get their emails, you'll know when they are having sales.
Finally, there are all the websites dedicated to helping people sell their stuff. All of the sites I am familiar with, list equine products for sale. Usually, to navigate these sites, you have to start with sporting goods, then narrow to outdoor sports, then to equestrian, and on down to helmets. Besides eBay, Amazon and Craigslist, you might also look at the equine specific sites. Be careful though! Far too many hours have evaporated from my day because I was just going to look at a couple of horses for sale on these sites. There are classified sections for equipment and apparel on some of these sites as well as horses for sale. Equinenow.com has a tab for ‘Store.’ Myhorseforsale.com has a tab for ‘tack shop.’ The products that you can search on these sites and others will be new, but there are lots of options and prices and sometimes, sales. If you’ve tried on other people’s helmets at the stable where you ride, so that you know what you’re looking for, then these online resources can help you find a good deal on a new helmet.
It all comes back to the people. Talk to horse people about what they use, what they like in a helmet and why. Horse people are generally very helpful about what products have worked best for them. Your trainer is the best resource for showing you proper fit of a helmet and can also explain the difference between that $40 helmet and the $140 helmet that you were examining in the tack store or online. Ask about good tack stores, tack swaps and online resources. Find people you trust who are knowledgeable. You will likely need to be patient with your search and the right helmet at the right price will eventually present itself. Keep asking questions, and enjoy the ride.
The following is a short list of helmet brands. There are many more, but I'm familiar with these and they offer schooling helmets in the $25-$50 range, new.
- Troxel - well known brand that offers fun colors and designs, and have adjustable sizing options.
- IRH - also offer a variety of colors and adjustable 'dial fit system'.
- Aegis - variety of colors and removable, washable lining.
What to look for in a helmet:
- ASTM Approved / SEI Certified. This means that it meets, or exceeds the safety requirements for the industry
- Removable/washable lining is nice, because helmets get very sweaty and smelly.
- Many helmets now are adjustable which comes in handy if someone needs to borrow your helmet or you have more than one rider in the family.