Buying a riding hat can be a confusing time. With lots of codes for different saftey standards it can be hard finding which one is right for you and more importantly which hat conforms to current safety standards.
Please note that this Info is written in the UK and details UK safety standards-Always check the laws & standards for where you are in the world as they can vary and change often as designs improve.
Firstly it is always good to be up to date with the current laws. Currently the Law states that children under& up to the age of 14 years are by law required to wear a hat that is at least BS4472 when riding on the road. This law was passed when this was the current standard of the time. However these standards are ever changing and improving so BETA now reccomend that a minimum of BS 1384 is worn.
I personally would reccomend that every rider regardless of how good they are or think they are wears a fully tested and safety coded riding hat. There's no shame in protecting your head. It always makes me cringe when I see riders out on hot days and they aren't wearing a hat, I just take the veiw that the ground is still as hard regardless of the sunshine.
When I need a new hat I alway talk to the person I'm buying from to see what kind of knowlege they have on the current safety standards,practices and laws. A good first question is what is the saftey standard of this hat- theres no shame in going away and checking for yourself how up to date the code is. I Always buy my hat from a saddlers & reputible retailers of equine equipment and clothing. Personally I always check to see that the person fitting my hat is BETA qualified.
It is worth bearing in mind that apart from being annoying that a loose fitting hat seriously reduces it's effectiveness!
I know this applys to motorbike helmets as well as I am both a biker and a horse rider but the golden rule any rider should know as far as helmets/ riding hats go is that if you drop it-throw it away and buy a new one(-ok so this may sound frivolous and possibly expensive but the cost of a new hat may be the difference betwen life and serious injury or death. I know which one I would choose.You can buy Specially designed hat bags to keep yours in and the person you buy from should be able to give you some hints & tips on good hat care.) The impact can damage the hats structure, this damage and it's true extent may not be visible on the outside when you pick it up and dust it off. Damage can effect the level of protection offered by the hat for the rider. No hat can protect from certain kinds of injury or accident in certain cirucumstances but a hat that has passed UK saftey tests will give you a better chance .
I would never ever reccomend buying second hand riding hats for riding in-they are however great for interetior decoration so long as they perminently live on your tack room wall. Remember that you never know what has happend to them in their past.
There is nothing wrong with asking the seller you are dealing with questions. If they know what they are talking about and deal with the business of selling riding hats regularly they will have probably heard it all before and will be happy to help you. I am always supisious of people who fail to answer or become very defensive when asked simple questions with any horse equipment . If they don't know find someone who willthere are plenty of genuinely knowlegeable people out there.
It's worth looking at different brands of hat as some will be designed for certain uses and will offer different styles,materials and colours.
If you are unhappy or unsure with the answers you are getting from your seller you can always go and get a second of even a third opinion. Try talking to a professional saddlerys/equine supplers as they are very likely able to give you more information and advice. Research it your self is another option. The British horse society-BHS and The pony club are always great sources of information. Remember when looking on the web check the saftey standards that apply to the area or country you live in and the purpose you want to use the hat for.
This information is from my own experiance. I have been riding since the age of three. I have been taught by a professional riding instructor and have spent my life riding horses. I have always worn a up to date hat and it has saved me on a few unlucky occasions. I would advise you that this is just a rough guide and is from my own experiance but to remember that your head is a very precious thing and it is well worth giving your self the best possible chance you can with regards to your hat and equipment. I know that some people feel that riding can become expensive but with the wide ranges and styles of rider and horse equipment that needn't be the case.
I hope this has been of use to you.
Kind regards and safe riding.