Survey results suggest further potential for helmet sales and education.

One in four people who ride globally are still not wearing helmets. 

And of those who do, too many are not looking after their riding hats properly or replacing them often enough.

The findings of a study (see reference below) by an American nursing academic suggest there remains huge scope for helmet sales and education internationally. 

Ansley Grimes Stanfill, PhD, RN, a nurse scientist and professor from the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, was inspired to research helmet use by what she has seen as a lifelong rider.

“Chin straps flapping, helmets tilted way back or too far forward, or people dropping them and putting them back on,” are just some examples, she says. 

Ansley’s online survey garnered 2,598 anonymous responses from adult riders around the world. Three-quarters said they always wore a hat when riding.

Of the 25% who don’t wear helmets, 57% said they weren’t necessary and 49% that they don’t fit well. 

More riders could be encouraged to wear helmets more often, suggests Ansley, by better communication about safety – and by professional riders setting an example by wearing theirs. 

Too many riders’ helmets are too old or damaged to be properly protective, the study also concluded.  

“Helmets should be replaced every five years,” says Ansley, “and that’s not just a marketing scheme.”

“The outer shell might look pristine, but the inner shock absorbers break down over time, even though we can’t see the wear.”

Ansley writes the purchase dates inside her helmets to keep track of when they need replacing. 

The study, “Helmet use in equestrian athletes: opportunities for intervention,”  was published in the 14 December, 2020 edition of Concussion.

Image by Gordon Johnson