PROTECT YOUR HEAD - Choosing the right riding hat for you and your riding activity!


When deciding on the purchase of a new ridng hat first and foremost, you should consider what types of activities you do with your horse and if you compete under rules you must ensure that your hat is up to the standard specified by the organisation in question, e.g. Pony Club, British Eventing or British Show Jumping. For example, if you event or do a lot of cross country riding, it's important to choose a style certified to the higher safety standards of PAS 015 or SNELL which are extremely popular with event riders, such as the Champion Ventair. However, it's important to note that British Eventing does permit hats that are kitemarked to BS EN 1384 2012 standard. 
 
Aside from the standard that the hat is certified to, it's important to ensure that the hat you choose fits properly and is comfortable for you to wear. Different brands of riding hat fit differently and may suit different head shapes and even within one brand different styles of helmet may fit slightly differently. To help make sure you choose the best hat for your head it's essential that your hat is fitted in store by a qualified hat fitter as they will be able to guide you as to the best style and fit for your head shape and riding requirements. 
 
> What should a properly fitted hat feel like?
A properly fitting hat should fit the head snugly, fitting all the way down and cupping the entire skull with the front of the helmet no more than about 1 1/2 inches or two fingers above the riders eyebrows. It should not be able to be easily dislodged when the chinstrap is not secured as this would indicate that it is too big and neither should it result in too much pressure on the riders head. A hat that is too small could result in significant discomfort if worn for a prolonged period of time, whilst a hat that is too big could easily slip forward over the riders eyes, which could be dangerous if it occurred during a jumping round. Only a well fitted riding hat will provide the rider with the maximum level of protection in the event of a fall. 
 
> Why is it important to wear a riding hat?
Head injuries present the most serious risk to riders; therefore it's crucial that an approved form of protective headgear is always worn while riding and preferably when handling horses too. When it comes to safety there should be no compromise and developments in materials and designs mean that most hats on the market today are lightweight and new ventilation systems help to keep the head cool, making them extremely comfortable to wear. Horses are extremely unpredictable creatures and it's far better to be safe than sorry when it comes to your safety. 
 
> Are some hats safer than others?
There are several different standards of riding hat available on the market today, with the most important current standards to be aware of being BS EN 1384, PAS 015 and Snell E2001, with PAS 015 and Snell E2001 providing a higher level of protection than that provided by BS EN 1384.  
 
> What regulations do hats have to meet?
There are several different standards of riding hat available on the market today, with the most important current standards to be aware of being BS EN 1384, PAS 015 and Snell E2001, with PAS 015 and Snell E2001 providing a higher level of protection than that provided by BS EN 1384.  Many hat manufacturers such as Champion also submit their products for further testing by the British Standards Institute, where the tried and trusted Kitemark is awarded. What this means is that a Kitemarked riding hat offers additional safety reassurance as it is tested on a continual basis, with every batch produced passing through the BSI's rigorous testing system for each of the four main areas of testing: penetration, shock absorption, harness strength and stability. Many riding organisations, such as British Eventing and the Pony Club, require that riders wear hats that carry the BSI Kitemark, so this is important to look out for. 
 
> What has changed over the years in hat safety and design?
Materials used now provide dramatically enhanced impact protection than they did 20 years ago, while at the same time helmets in general have become lighter. The result is that riding hats that conform to current standards are much safer while also being more comfortable for riders to wear.
Head protection products are an important part of the gear used for many sports (such as motor car racing and cycling), as well as being a daily requirement for motorbike riders. There has therefore been much cross-industry research into materials, designs and testing procedures, all of which have helped to raise safety standards for all types of protective head wear. 
 
Many of the latest models, such as the Champion Ventair, are built using Light weight glass reinforced shells and a shock absorbing polystyrene liner, the shell helps spread any impact over a much larger load bearing area and prevents penetration by sharp objects.
Other new developments are also making their way into equestrian safety products, such as the new Champion Pro-Lite Deluxe Jockey Skull and Junior Pro-Lite jockey skull which uses a light weight injection molded shell. 
 
Ventilation is another advance that has improved rider comfort no end. The Champion Ventair hat and helmet feature a design registered, unique ventilated airflow system that allows cool air to enter the front of the helmet, helping to keep the riders' head cool. 
 
The new Champion Pro-Lite Deluxe Jockey Skull and Junior Pro-Lite jockey skull also features a ventilation system that allows air to enter and exit through four ventilation points, for maximum through-flow of air. The new Champion Air-Tech incorporates two large perforated steel ventilation grills to the front/sides and a further grill at the rear to allow a large flow of air through the helmet to help keep the riders' head cool in all conditions.
 
Another more recent innovation in some modern helmets, such as the Champion Air-Tech, is the inclusion of an adjustable head sizing ring into the design. Brand new on the market for 2013, the Champion Air-Tech is fitted with an adjustable head sizing ring which allows the helmet to accommodate a comprehensive range of head sizes and shapes in just three models - small, medium and large, and allows the wearer to adjust the size of the helmet slightly to ensure a comfortable and secure fit.
Testing procedures and standards today are also more thorough than ever before with leading hat manufacturers submitting their products for further testing by the British Standards Institute, where the tried and trusted Kitemark is awarded. All Champion hats and helmets carry Kitemark approval and thereby offer additional safety reassurance as they are tested on a continual basis, with every batch produced passing through the BSI's rigorous testing system. There are four main areas of testing: penetration, shock absorption, harness strength and stability and by purchasing a riding hat or Jockey skull that displays the Kitemark approved tag, you can be assured that it will consistently perform to the standard it was designed to meet. 

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> Why should you buy a Champion hat over other hats?
Champion have always invested heavily in research and development and dramatic advances in design and technology, at which Champion have been at the forefront, mean that riding hats are now lighter, more comfortable and provide more protection than could ever have been imagined two decades ago. From their UK base, safety is put at the heart of everything that Champion produces and with fabulous new styles and colour options on the market such as the striking new Champion Air-Tech and gorgeous new hot pink Champion Junior X-Air, Champion hats and body protectors also look great too. Many of the best riders in the world put their trust in Champion, including Ruby and Katie Walsh, Pippa Funnell and Piggy French, to name but a few.
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