August 19, 2021 5 min read
“English riding” is one big umbrella term that encompasses several different disciplines, each with their own rules, riding style, and required apparel. Unlike Western riding, an English riding helmet is required in every division, but not all helmets are designed to fit the unique needs of each competitive discipline. So, how do you know what type of English riding helmet you need?
Read on to find out.
Dressage riders must complete a test on the flat demonstrating knowledge of the traditional training scale, connection, suppleness, and a willing partnership between horse and rider. The test is performed in a 60 by 20 meter ring with letters around the outside edge to mark specific movements in the test.
The best dressage English riding helmets look more traditional and streamlined than sporty and typically don’t have a lot of venting that protrudes from the helmet. The most common helmet color is black in either velvet, leather, or plastic, but it’s not unusual to also see helmetsin shades of navy, grey, or brown.
Dressage riders favor bling more than traditional foxhunters or stately hunter/jumper riders. Dressage helmets can be found with crystals along the vents of the helmet or set in a design on the back. If you’re looking for your next dressage helmet, take a look at the IRH IR4G Glossy Black Finish with a Rose Gold Vent. This sleek black look has a rose gold metallic vent that adds just a touch of glamour.
Show jumping is a fast-paced event that requires speed, precise and accurate timing, and jumping ability. In this discipline, horse and rider complete a course of fences under a certain time limit. Penalties are added every time a pole is knocked down or the rider goes over the allowed time.
Unlike most other English riding sports where the standards of dress are clearly defined, show jumpers can be a little wilder with their apparel, including their helmet. Israeli Olympic show jumper Dani Waldman is a great example of this as she is famous for her lace show jackets and feather-filled hair.
A popular English riding helmet for a show jumper is one that features something a little extra, but is still sleek and sporty. The Charles Owen MYPS Helmet offers riders the option of choosing a navy blue with lighter blue racing stripes. Outfitted with unique MYPS technology, this helmet offers three certifications to three international equestrian standards: SEI certification to ASTM F1163-15, Kitemarks to VG1 01-040 2014-12 and PAS015:2011, and a CE mark to VG1 01-040 2014-12.
Eventing is similar to an equestrian triathlon. It’s made up of three different phases: dressage, show jumping, and cross country. These three events were chosen as they represent the skills and knowledge cavalry soldiers would have needed. The cross country phase of the event is a display of bravery. The horse and rider must jump solid, natural obstacles such as logs, brush, and through water. Eventing is one of the most dangerous English riding sports and requires a rugged helmet. Equestrians typically wear safety vests and colorful tack.
Eventers prefer to wear a brim-less English riding helmet known as a skullcap. This sleek rounded helmet is distinguished by its lack of brim or peak, which allows the rider a complete 360 degree view of what’s happening around them. Skullcaps, like the Charles Owen MS1 Pro Helmet, go down lower on the neck than a traditional riding helmet to really cradle the skull. Bright covers can be worn over the skullcap to compliment your riding colors and provide a flexible peak that has no impact on the safety of the helmet, but does offer some protection from the sun.
Hunter/jumper riders must excel both on the flat and over fences. Horses and riders demonstrate a lower head carriage than dressage, but still maintain contact in the bit. Judges look for horses that are calm and steady with an easy rhythm. Riders should be out of the way of the horse and offer no interference.
The hunter/jumper division of English riding has one of the strictest standards of dress, besides fox hunting. Riders are required to wear a conservatively colored jacket, tan or rust breeches, and properly fitted tall boots. Horses must wear a white saddle pad that hugs the outline of the saddle and have braids at rated shows.
These strict conservative regulations don’t change when it comes to English riding helmets. Hunter/jumpers must wear a conservatively colored helmet, without bling or embellishment of any kind. Most riders choose to wear a black helmet, or one that matches the color of their show jacket. Long hair should be contained in a hair net and worn up underneath the helmet. The TuffRider Ventek Microtouch helmet is a great example of a conservative look that would be perfect for the hunter ring. With a velvety Microtouch finish, black color, and sleek streamlined profile, this helmet would be the cherry on top of a beautiful show outfit.
There are two different types of fox hunting: a drag hunt and a live hunt. The most common type of hunt, a drag hunt, uses a scented lure dragged by the hunt master or huntsman for the hounds to follow over a predetermined route. A live hunt relies on the presence of a fox nearby and the hounds ability to find the fox and scent a trail. Keep in mind that the hounds areneverreferred to as dogs.
There are three different “flights” or groups of riders at every meet. The first flight maintains a fast canter or gallop and jumps every obstacle they come to. Second flight runs at a slower pace and can go around obstacles, but try their best to keep up with the hounds. Those riding in the third flight are often called “hilltoppers” as they follow at a walking or trotting pace and are often atop a hill trying to get the best view of the hunt. Fox hunting etiquette is in place for the safety of all involved. Any horse that refuses a jump or attempts to kick a hound is downgraded to the next flight or asked to leave the hunt altogether.
The fox hunting community is quite strict when it comes to tradition. Those in charge of the hunt, for example the hunt master and huntsman, are distinguished by a red coat. Tan, beige or rust breeches, a tweed or conservatively-colored show jacket, and gloves are required. Depending on what hunt you go to, stock ties may also be encouraged.
The regulations on wearing an English riding helmet are just as strict. A hunt-style helmet is required, which is to say a black velvet helmet with no embellishment. A true hunt-style helmet will have tan straps, a bow on the back, and a small round protuberance on the top. However, these helmets have become rare and most hunts will accept other styles like the Charles Owen JR8 in black. Be sure that whatever helmet you wear to a hunt, it is conservative and as close to a traditional hunting cap as possible.
At Breeches.com, we pride ourselves on not only providing our customers with high-quality affordable equipment, but also on our ability to answer all of our customers' questions and help them find the right helmet for their needs. Our online store features a messaging service where you can chat with a knowledgeable rider to help you find the right English riding helmet for your discipline. If you’re uncertain which helmet you should buy, reach out to them. We’re happy to help you find the right helmet for your unique needs.
Comments will be approved before showing up.