how to fit children's riding hats

How to Fit Children's Riding Hats


Summer means kids are out of school and ready to spend all their time at the barn. Make sure you have all of the supplies you’ll need so your child can spend a fun summer riding ponies with their friends. The most important piece of equipment you’ll need to purchase is a children’s riding hat. 

Why Your Child Needs a Properly-Fitted Helmet

child wearing children's riding hat on palomino pony

A helmet is the most crucial piece of safety equipment for your child to have. The ponies and horses at most lesson barns are usually gentle souls, who are older and very calm. That being said, most high-quality horseback riding programs won’t allow your child to ride without a properly-fitted helmet. 

A helmet will protect your child’s head in the event of a fall and should always be worn when riding, no matter how old you are. After all, you only get one brain! 

If your child’s helmet is too big, it won’t be able to do its job properly. A helmet that is too big will cause your child’s skull to collide with the inside of the helmet, which is little better than colliding with the ground. They’ll be at higher risk of concussion and other brain injuries than if they were wearing a properly-fitted helmet. On the other hand, a too-small helmet is very uncomfortable and will cause headaches. 

Avoid either of these scenarios by fitting your child’s riding hat properly. 

How to Fit Children’s Riding Hats

children's riding hats

Step 1: Measure for Helmet Size

The right size helmet will fit snugly, without giving the rider a headache. In order to be inclusive, children’s riding hats come in a wide variety of sizes. So, how do you know which size helmet to buy? 

To get an idea of where to start, you can measure the circumference of your child’s head. First, grab a soft, flexible tape measure, like the ones commonly used to measure fabric or clothing. Wrap the tape measure in a straight line around your child’s head. The tape should rest roughly ¾ inch above your child’s eyebrows and ears. Make sure you’re measuring in centimeters, not inches. Repeat the process several times so you’re sure to get an accurate number. 

Each brand will have their own sizing chart, but most helmet manufacturers stick to similar numbers. For example, between 50 and 53 centimeters is equivalent to a size 6 ⅛ - 6 ½, or a size small, in the  TuffRider helmets.  It’s also equivalent to 6 ¼ - 6 ⅝ , or size extra-small and small, in Troxel helmets. 

The reason many children’s riding hats have a varying size measurement is because of the adjustable fit. As you well know, kids grow up and out of their clothes fast. Unfortunately, helmets can be expensive. To ensure that you and your child get the most out of the helmet while still staying safe, some helmet brands have an adjustable band that you can tighten or loosen in order to fit your growing young rider for as long as possible. 

If you’re looking for a helmet with an adjustable fit, check out the  TuffRider Starter Basic Horse Riding Helmet.

Step 2: Test the Helmet Size

Even though you measured the size of your children’s riding hat, the minute size variations between brands means that it’s important to test the fit of the helmet and not just rely on the numbers. 

While your child is wearing the helmet, gently lift the brim. You should feel some resistance when you lightly tug on it. A properly fitted children’s riding hat will cause the eyebrows to lift slightly as you pull up. 

Another test is to loosely attach the chin strap so there is a fair amount of slack between the strap and your child’s chin. Have the child lean forward and drop their head towards the ground. If the helmet falls or shifts on their head, it may be too loose. When performing this particular test, be ready to catch the helmet in case the loose chin strap does not. 

Remember, if your helmet falls on a hard surface, its structural integrity could be compromised. 

Last but not least, have your child wear their helmet for 30 or so minutes. It should feel comfortable on their head and they should be able to wear it without feeling any pain, headache, or tension– all of which are signs the helmet is too small. 

Step 3: Check the Helmet Shape

Helmets are like jeans. The same size helmet in one brand will not necessarily fit your child in another brand. This is because each brand has a different shape. 

For example, some brands have a more round shape, while others have a more oval or narrow shape. Once you find a brand that fits your child, it’s a good idea to stick with the same brand, since you know that it works well for their head shape. 

To check and see if your children’s riding hat fits their head, take one or two fingers and slide them along the brim of the helmet, where it meets the skin. There should not be any gaps where you can put your fingers underneath the helmet. 

When you’re doing this, you’re looking for a consistent fit the entire way around. A well-fitted helmet will not have any gaping areas and should be snug against the skull all the way around the head. 

However, there are some exceptions to this rule. Some helmet brands have a hair channel built into the back of the helmet. This allows riders who prefer to fit their hair under the helmet to do so without changing the fit. The hair channel feature is most commonly seen in competition hats, like  Charles Owen helmets

New Children’s Riding Hat Colors Available on

young boy wearing TuffRider children's riding hat

Gone are the days of boring black helmets. Now your child can choose from a variety of colors and patterns on our  helmets tab

We have just released brand new colors for our  TuffRider Starter Horse Riding Helmet. Now available in a cool navy blue or vibrant hot pink, as well as the traditional black and white, your child can stay safe and have fun with their riding outfit. Plus, this helmet comes in sizes extra small through large and incorporates an adjustable fit within the sizes, so your child is able to achieve that custom fit feel, without the price tag.  

Learn more about horse riding helmets here.

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