Mind your melon! New riding helmet standards released

Is your helmet approved for competition? There are new standards in place now.

New standards for helmets are being introduced
New standards for helmets are being introduced

This is an important safety update on changes to equestrian riding helmet standards. The EU Commission has withdrawn the equestrian riding helmet standards EN 1384 and BSEN 1384. This are two of the most common helmet standards in New Zealand.

If you have one of these helmets, you may need to start planning to get a new one, as these helmets under the old standards are being phased out. They will still be fine for use in non-competitions. It is strongly advised that if your helmet has had any serious impacts, or is five or more years old, then it should be replaced.

In 2010 the New Zealand Pony Club Association (NZPCA) implemented the first and only helmet tagging system in New Zealand which allows the quick and easy identification of riding helmets that meet one or more of the approved standards.

In light of the withdrawal of the EN1384 and BSEN 1384 standards as of August 1st 2016, NZPCA has advised:

  • Any helmets which are certified and only marked with the standard ES 1384 or BSEN 1384 can continue to be tagged with a BLUE tag. Most of these helmets will already have a BLUE tag on but in the event of one of these helmets requiring a new tag only a BLUE tag should be used.
  • Helmets which are certified and also marked with one of the other standards permissible by NZPCA (PAS 015, Snell E2001 and AS/NZS 3838) should be tagged with one of the new RED hat tags before the 1st of August 2017. The full list of standards is given in the image below.
  • As of 1st August 2017, only helmets carrying RED tags or certified and marked with standards permissible by NZPCA will be permitted to be worn. As of 1st August 2017, no hat bearing a BLUE tag will be permitted to be worn at Pony Club.

NZPCA has been in discussions with a number of leading saddlery companies for the past 6-9 months concerning this issue.

NZPCA Riding Helmet Policy as at 2016

It is mandatory for all Pony Club members to wear a protective helmet at all times when mounted (including at prize-giving) with a chinstrap fastened and adjusted so as to prevent movement of the helmet in the event of a fall. The fit of the helmet and the adjustment of the harness are as crucial as the quality. Members are advised to try several makes to find the best fit. The helmet should not move on the head when the head is tipped forward. Helmets must be replaced after a severe impact as subsequent protection will be significantly reduced. Helmets deteriorate with age and should be replaced after three to five years depending upon the amount of use. It is strongly recommended that secondhand helmets are not purchased.

NZPCA Helmet Standards

The helmet standards accepted at Pony Club events and activities as of 1st January 2016 are detailed in this image.

NZPCA Helmet standards as at 1 January 2016
NZPCA Helmet standards as at 1 January 2016

If you have any further questions about your helmet, you can contact the NZPCA at info@nzpca.org or phone 068459336 ext 720. It is expected that Equestrian Sports New Zealand will be adopting something similar to NZPCA but there has been no confirmation of this. At this point in time it is understood that the rules still contain reference to the old standards. Many countries have already adopted the new EU standards, including the UK.

If you are planning on competing, it would be advisable to check your helmet to see if it does meet the new standard. If you are buying a new helmet, you should also check this as there may still be some hats made under the old standard for sale.