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The importance of wearing an approved standard riding helmet has been stressed again by The British Horse Society (BHS), after an inquest into the death of a rider.

Late in 2003 a rider, who is not being named, tragically died after an unexplained fall from her horse.

After the inquest, the Coroner wrote to The BHS about the case because it had become apparent that the helmet worn by the rider was manufactured in 1987, making it 16 years old and an obsolete standard.

Sheila Hardy of the BHS’s Safety Department, said it was important that riders regularly review their protective riding hear wear as standards are continually under review.

She said: “Advances in materials and design methods have allowed helmets to be developed to a higher performance level. Standards are constantly being revised as materials improve.”

“Materials such as polystyrene disintegrate in time, but most important of all, hats must be treated with respect if they are to protect the head. If a hat is left in the sun, or on a radiator to dry,the materials may become brittle, resulting in a loss of efficiency.

“Once a hat has been involved in a fall, it is advisable that it be replaced as it will have lost some of its cushioning powers, which may be required to protect the head in a subsequent fall.”

Meanwhile, a new British Standard has just been announced for high performance headgear, BSEN 14572:2005, although as yet no manufacturer is offering a hat to this standard.

This new high performance helmet standard will offer greater protection from side impacts and will be aimed at competition riders. Helmets in accordance with BSEN 14572:2005 are intended for use in high-risk activities, and not to supersede the current EN1384:1996 and BSEN1384:1997.

Although not a legal requirement for all riders, The British Horse Society strongly recommends that every rider should wear a helmet that complies with current approved standards.

These include; EN 1384:1996; BSEN 1384:1997; PAS 015 1998; ASTM F1163; or a higher standard such as Snell E2001 or BSEN 14572:2005.

A spokesperson for the BHS told HHO: “We welcome any new standard, and as I understand it this should be a offer particularly good side protection. At the current time we know of nobody who is making hats to this standard, but it is normal that once a new standard is approved, manufacturers will respond to that news.”