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Riders can buy a new hat at a discounted price today (Saturday 11 June) as part of International Helmet Awareness Day 2011.

Charles Owen, Gatehouse, Airowear and Champion Hats are all offering their hats at cut prices through participating retailers for one day only.

Lyndsey White of campaign group Riders4Helmets, which is organising the day, said: “Wearing a correctly fitting and certified helmet is essential. Helmets can and do save lives.

Oliver Townend’s helmet lining was crushed from 21mm to 13mm following his fall at Rolex Kentucky last year, confirming just how much protection helmets offer.”

She is urging riders to take the opportunity to replace old hats.

The campaign was launched in early 2010 after US Olympic dressage rider Courtney King Dye suffered a serious head injury while training hatless at home (news, 29 April 2010).

More than 500 tackshops across the world are expected to take part, with more than 80 hat retailers in the UK committing to the scheme.

Charles Owen is offering 10% off its hats and Champion said it is leaving it up to retailers to decide how much discount to give.

John Eyres, of FBI, which produces Champion hats, said: “We are all guilty of not checking our hats enough. Anything that encourages riders to think about safety has to be applauded.”

Gatehouse and Airowear are both offering a 10% discount to retailers to pass on for riders.

A Gatehouse spokesman said: “It’s a great chance to raise awareness, it’s amazing how many ill-fitting hats we see that are unfit for use.”

A spokesman for Airowear added: “It’s a perfect opportunity to encourage riders to check their helmets — I’m not sure if people are aware of how much the condition of a hat can change over time. Wearing an ill-fitting helmet can be as dangerous as not wearing one at all.”

Visit www.riders4helmets.com for more details, including a list of UK retailers taking part.

This news story was first published in the current issue of Horse & Hound (9 June, 2011)