A bill has been signed in Florida this week making the use of riding hats mandatory for under-16s.

Governor Charlie Crist signed “Nicole’s Law” on 8 June. The bill states that riders under 16 years old must wear helmets on public roads and trails.

The law is named after Nicole Hornstein, a 12-year-old from Acreage, Florida, who died in 2006 when her horse stumbled and she fell, hitting her head on the pavement.

After Nicole’s death, her father, Gary, travelled to Florida’s capital, Tallahassee, and pushed for a law to be instated so other young riders didn’t suffer a similar fate.

“I am proud to sign legislation that will help ensure the safety of Florida’s children and prevent serious injuries that otherwise could have been prevented,” Governor Crist told local press.

“I applaud our legislature for taking action to protect Florida’s future leaders.”

The new law requires a child under age 16 to wear a helmet that meets the current standards of the American Society of Testing and Materials for protective headgear.

Under the law any person who allows a child to ride a horse without a helmet can be fined $500 (£300).

Shelia Hardy, from the British Horse Society said: “In the UK it is the law for riders up to 14 to wear hat on roads.

I fully support Nicole’s Law, anything that makes riders safer is a good thing. I doubt that the age will be increased here in the foreseeable future but the culture of wearing a hat in the UK is good.

“If a rider gets in the habit of wearing a hat when they are younger it is likely they will continue to wear one and not say they’ve turned 15 so are not going to wear a hat anymore.”