Safety Standards Explained


Riding Hat And Body Armour Safety Standards Explained  


riding hat being tested 


Buying A Riding Hat

The fit of a riding hat is very important as a helmet that moves a lot on the head will give significantly less protection. A well fitting hat will offer you the protection the hat was designed to give. At LEONARD COOMBE MASTER SADDLERS all our staff are manufacture trained and hold CHARLES OWEN fitting certificates.We also habe BETA trained staff . Because of the importance of a riding hat being well fitted we insist it has been fitted on the person it is for by a trained member of staff. As all riding hats are NON RETURNABLE (due to safety reasons) we ask people to allow a little time for fitting which includes keeping the helmet on in store for a short time to make sure you don't get a headache and it stays fitting snugly

hat fitting trained staff     hat being fitted  


Safety And Your Head

Like most equestrian attire, the design of riding hats has its roots in a combination of tradition and practicality. The peak, for instance, is useful for keeping the sun out of a rider’s eyes; while different coloured velvet-covered caps and the position of their ribbons denote different personnel in the hunting field.

There are also riding hats associated with military dress, some of which can still be seen on occasions such as the State Opening of Parliament. Often spectacular, they vary wildly from what we know as conventional civilian riding headgear, but each design can be traced back to a function in battle or indication of rank or regiment.

Nowadays, of course, the emphasis is on safety. Protection from impact upon a fall – including the hat’s ability to stay in place – remains the number one priority. Manufacturers must also consider that riders need to be able to see and hear clearly to enhance their safety while riding. 

Comfort is another requirement, which is why hats and helmets come in a wide range of sizes to fit all head shapes.

Even before hats became synonymous with safety, it was considered ‘bad form’ for either sex to ride bare-headed in public. HM The Queen famously used to don a headscarf and many work riders perilously exercised racehorses in flat caps.

It all seems a world away now, but one fact still holds good. A riding hat keeps you warm in winter, while vented variations are available for summer shade and coolness

Hat manufacturers have made huge strides in harnessing technology to bring every rider a choice of variously shaped and sized, comfortable, lightweight, smart and even colourful headgear.

To test their ingenuity still further, these manufacturers must also design and produce hats that meet the various safety standards, each of which requires specific protective features at certain points. This is why some designs appear more traditional, while others are constrained by the standard to which they comply.

Peaks, for example, no longer feature on skull caps, are detachable on some types of vented helmets or can be added by using a ‘silk’ over the helmet.

Perhaps the biggest change in modern riding headgear came about when retaining harnesses became a requirement across all current standards. Again, there’s a huge amount of variation from webbing harnesses to soft leather and even transparent versions that appear almost invisible.

Etiquette to ensure correct turnout, in the show ring for instance, and the need to adhere to certain equestrian disciplines’ rules both apply when choosing a riding hat.The only formal UK legislation covering riding hats states that all riders aged 14 and under must wear a hat conforming to at least EN1384 (the European standard) when riding on the public highway. This is also the basic minimum standard for most forms of riding.

Beyond that, various health and safety requirements apply to staff working with horses including within the racing industry.

Anyone who’s considering buying a new riding hat (it’s never a good idea to purchase or borrow a second-hand one with an unknown history) should visit a trained retailer for a free, personalised hat fitting, plus all the advice and information you need to choose the most suitable hat to match your needs and budget.

BSEN 1384

British Standards to European Specifications (with Kite Mark).

All organizations allow this standard to be worn during competitions

  • This standard replaced both the riding hat and jockey skull British Standard

  • Chin cups on previous models have been banned

BSEN 1384 is commissioned and trusted by the British Standards Institute

PAS 015

Product Approved Specification, Enhanced British specification for protective headgear (with Kite Mark).

  • This standard is the enhanced BSEN 1384 standard. It provides improved protection to the crown and the intermediate areas which together account for 75% of most general riding impacts. As the test line is lower at the front, it tends to lead to slightly bulkier helmets. Most organizations recommend this level of protection.

  • Crush resistance and prevention of brain injury when landing on edged surfaces due to the more rigid and new cupless chin design. A stability test is also included to limit excessive movement during wearing or a fall.

ASTM 1163

American standards (with SEI = Safety Equipment Institute). The main reason for helmets being promoted to this standard are:

  • Helmets are allowed larger ventilation slots

  • Helmets are tested using a hazard anvil (now incorporated in PAS 015)


When you see a product with a Kitemark this means the BSI has independently tested it and has confirmed that the product conforms to the relevant British Standard, and has issued a BSI license to the company to use the Kitemark. The manufacturer pays for this service and their product is tested, and the manufacturing process is assessed, at regular intervals.

The Kitemark is the symbol that gives consumers the assurance that the product they have bought really does conform to the appropriate British Standard and should therefore be safe and reliable.

Manufacturers are not legally required to display a Kitemark on their products, but many everyday products and appliances such as fridges, electrical plugs and crash helmets have them.

All hats and skulls must be fitted with an integral adjustable nylon harness and must conform to PAS 015 or BSEN 1384. All hats produced with the BSI Kite Mark and SEI have to be batch tested, the Kite Mark guarantees the ongoing consistence of the safety standards.

All hats which have suffered a severe impact, including being dropped onto a hard surface, should be replaced immediately as their protective capacity will have been impaired, even if there is no visible sign of damage.


Body Armour Saftey Standards   

 body armour and riding hat fall

Many of life's most enjoyable activities also involve risks, horse riding is no different. At one time or another a rider no matter how experienced will probably take a fall, so it is important to wear safety equipment to help protect against serious injury.




 Body Protection Made Easy

Whether you’re planning to go eventing, about to back a young horse or just go out hacking, consideration should always be given to body protection.

Designed to absorb impact from a fall or kick from a horse, body protectors are compulsory for some competitions. But an increasing number of riders report feeling more confident - and therefore riding more positively - when wearing one in everyday situations from hacking to schooling over fences.

Another reason many more riders are opting for body protection is that modern garments are more flexible and lightweight than their predecessors. Not only that, 21st century body protectors come in fun, fashionable colours (or plain if you prefer), are quick and easy to put on - and don’t necessarily cost as much as you may think.

A good fit is the key to comfort and safety.


Body Armour Standards

BETA originally brought together riding organisations, doctors, riders, manufacturers and retailers to develop the now widely recognised BETA Body Protector Standard.

The BETA 2000 and 2009 Body Protector Standard meets all the requirements of the European standard (EN 13158:2000). A revised edition of the BETA 2000 and 2009 standard was published and adopted by BETA in April 2009. The BETA 2000 and 2009 version will continue as a current stanard for the next 2 years. Under the BETA Standard, garments are additionally re-tested annually for consistency of quality of materials used and manufacture.

The BETA Standard sets criteria for shock-absorption, controls the area of the body that must be covered and ensures there are minimal gaps between the protective foam panels. It encompasses three levels, each designed for different activities and denoted by a colour-coded label on the garment.

  BETA level 3 body armour  BETA leval 2 body armour  BETA level 1 body armour
  • Level 1 (black label) provides the lowest level of protection that is only considered appropriate for licensed jockeys while racing.
  • Level 2 (brown label) offers a lower than normal level of protection so is considered suitable for low risk situations - not including jumping, riding on theroads, riding young or excitable horses or riding while inexperienced.
  • Level 3 (purple label) is considered appropriate for general riding, competitions including eventing and working with horses. Level 3 body protectors should prevent minor bruising that wouldhave produced stiffness and pain, reduce soft tissue injuries and prevent a limited number of rib fractures.

There is a separate BETA Standard for shoulder protectors. Research into 50 falls onto the shoulder during eventing competitions revealed that among the 30 riders not wearing shoulder protection, there were six broken collarbones and two dislocated shoulders, but no fractures among the 20 fallers who were wearing shoulder protectors to BETA Level 3.



Buying Your Body Protector

Like riding hats the effectiveness of a body protector depends on selecting the right one for the job and correct fitting. All the staff at LEONARD COOMBE MASTER SADDLERS are trained to fit body protectors by the  company that produces the well known Rodney Powell body protectors. Or are BETA trained.  Our most  popular body protectors are from Rodney Powell and Air-o-wear both manufactures offer a huge range of sizes and back lengths as well as a made to measure service. If we don't have one in stock that fits we can take measurements and order you one

Make The Most Of Your Body Protector

Body protectors should be replaced at least every three to five years, after which the impact absorption properties of the foam may have started to decline.

Garments bearing the now obsolete Level 5 or 7 labels will no longer be effective and should be replaced with a garment bearing the current BETA 2000 and 2009 Standard.

If you should have a heavy fall, your body protector should be checked immediately for dents. The foam will expand back to its original shape within 30 minutes; but if a dent is showing on examination, then it’s likely that this part of the garment has lost its impact absorption properties and should be replaced.

Hidden damage that a body protector may have sustained is also a good reason for avoiding second-hand garments or those with unknown histories. Taking good care of your body protector means that it will last longer within the three to five year recommended lifespan. So don’t leave it lying around at the yard or in the lorry to be chewed and trodden on. Spending too much time in a hot car or damp tackroom won’t do it any good either.

When not in use, body protectors should be hung on a clothes hanger. Doing up zips ensures they keep their shape, while closing Velcro fastenings will help prevent them becoming clogged with horse hair and hay particles.

Most body protectors are made from heat sensitive PVC nitrile foam, which is why they feel increasingly comfortable as they soften and mould to the wearer’s body. So try storing your protector in a warm (but not artificially hot) environment to ensure it’s nice and flexib

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