Making a Case for Helmets – Part 2

In my last post, I explained my personal reasons for wearing a helmet and for insisting that my daughter wear a helmet. In this post, I wanted to share some of the helmet rules for some of the equestrian organizations.

Jumpers and eventers are well known for requiring helmets, but Dressage riders are now trending in that direction as well after the traumatic brain injury of Courtney King Dye. It may surprise Western riders to learn that when competing in Western Dressage at a USDF or USEF-sanctioned event, a helmet is required not only during competition but whenever you are mounted anywhere on show grounds.

So… Below I’ve included the helmet-related rules for USDF, USEF, AQHA, ARHA, ASHA, ApHC, Tennessee Saddle Club Association, and Tennessee 4-H. Want to see the rules for another organization? Let us know! We’ll be happy to research it and post it here for the group.

USDF and USEF

  • All riders under 18 years of age must wear a helmet while mounted on competition grounds whether they’re competing or not.
  • All riders on horses competing in fourth level or below must wear a helmet whether the rider is competing or not while on competition grounds
  • All riders must wear a helmet when mounted on a horse competing in a young horse or junior test while on competition grounds
  • All Para-Equestrian riders must wear a helmet while mounted on any horse while on competition grounds
  • All riders mounted on non-competing horses must wear a helmet while on competition grounds
  • All riders under age 18 and all riders while on horses competing in national level tests, who choose to wear Armed Services or police uniform, must wear protective headgear as defined in DR120.5 and in compliance with GR801 at all times while mounted on the competition grounds. Riders age 18 and over who wear Armed Services or police uniform on horses that are competing only in FEI levels and tests at the Prix St. Georges level and above must wear either protective headgear or the appropriate military/police cap or hat for their branch of service.
  • When a horse is competing in both national and FEI levels or tests (e.g. Fourth Level and PSG), the rider must wear protective headgear at all times when mounted on that horse on the competition grounds and during all tests.
  • Riders 18 and over on horses competing only in FEI levels and tests at the Prix St. Georges level and above aren’t required to wear a helmet during warm up or in competition. Though they may wear a helmet in competition without penalty from the judge.
  • In FEI recognized classes helmets are permitted, but not required.
  • All riders while on horses competing in national level classes such as Equitation, Materiale and DSHB Under Saddle are required to wear protective headgear at all times when mounted on the competition grounds.
  • Protective headgear is defined as a riding helmet which meets or exceeds ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials)/SEI (Safety Equipment Institute) standards for equestrian use and carries the SEI tag. The headgear and harness must be secured and properly fitted. Any rider violating this rule at any time must immediately be prohibited from further riding until such headgear is properly in place.
  • For more information, visit USDF website.

AQHA

  • It is mandatory for riders in all hunter, jumper and equitation classes, including hunter hack, where jumping is required and when jumping anywhere on the competition ground to wear properly fastened protective headgear that meets ASTM/SEI standards or equivalent international standards for equestrian use. The helmet must also be properly fitted with harness secured. It is optional that an exhibitor may wear a hard hat with harness in all classes; however, it is mandatory that all youth and recommended that amateurs wear a ASTM/SEI approved hard hat with harness in all over fence classes. It is mandatory that all exhibitors wear a hard hat in all over fence classes and when schooling over fences.
  • All riders of all ages must wear a cowboy hat in all western classes. Helmets are not permitted in western classes and riders will be penalized for wearing one.
  • For more information, visit the AQHA website.

ARHA

  • Cowboy hats must be worn by competitors.
  • Youth riders are not required to wear a helmet
  • For more information, visit the ARHA rulebook.

ASHA

  • All riders are required to wear a helmet or a western hat in competition.
  • For more information, visit the ASHA handbook.

ApHC

  • In all western classes, exhibitors are required to wear a western hat
  • In all game classes, the exhibitor must wear a western hat or
    ASTM/SEI approved protective headgear. Youth exhibitors 18
    years of age and younger are required to wear ASTM/SEI approved
    helmet with safety harness attached and fastened in all
    game classes. ASTM/SEI approved protective headgear, while
    optional for adults, is strongly recommended for use by all exhibitors
    in all game classes. If the exhibitor wears a hat it must
    be on the exhibitor’s head when he/she enters the arena.
  • Exhibitors are strongly encouraged to wear helmets while riding anywhere on competition grounds
  • If exhibitors choose to wear protective headgear in western classes
    (western horsemanship, western pleasure, western riding,
    showmanship, reining, leadline etc.) it is not mandatory that the
    headgear look like a western hat.
  • Effective January 1, 1993, all exhibitors 18 years old and under
    riding in all over fence classes including Hunter Hack must wear
    properly fitting protective headgear passing applicable ASTM
    (American Society for Testing and Materials) standards while
    riding in the designated schooling exercise areas, the show ring
    and while jumping anywhere on the competition grounds. Harness
    must be secured and properly fitted. Any exhibitor violating
    this rule at anytime must immediately be prohibited from further
    riding until such headgear is properly in place
  • The ApHC strongly encourages all exhibitors, regardless of age,
    to wear protective headgear passing or surpassing current applicable
    ASTM standards with harness secured while riding anywhere on the competition grounds including while practicing, schooling, and/or showing.
  • For more information, download the ApHC rulebook.

Tennessee Saddle Club Association

4-H

  • In the state of Tennessee, all riders of all ages at 4-H sanctioned events are required to wear a helmet whether competing or not.
  • For more information, download the Tennessee 4-H Protective Headgear Policy

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