A furore broke out over the weekend following a British Eventing (BE) announcement that the popular PROtector Cool XCountry Helmet is not allowed for cross-country under BE rules.

BE sent an email to officials on Friday (15 April), which was backed up by a statement on the BE website on Saturday (16 April), explaining that this particular helmet is not permitted for cross-country, although it may be worn for dressage and showjumping.

The hat has a small bump along the front above the eyes (as pictured below) and therefore appears to have fallen foul of the part of the headwear rule which states cross-country hats must be “of an even round or elliptical shape with a smooth or slightly abrasive surface, having no peak, peak type extensions or noticeable protuberances above the eyes or to the front”.

PROtector Cool XCountry Helmet

PROtector responded with a statement on Sunday saying: “On 16th April BE announced our cross-country helmet would not be permitted to be worn during the cross-country phase of eventing. We were unaware of discussions relating to this until this statement.

“We are currently in discussions with British Eventing, which are ongoing and we hope to update very soon. We would like to clarify this statement refers only to the xc and only when used within the cross-country phase. All PROtector hats still carry the SNELL E:2001, the highest manufactured equestrian safety standard in the world.”

BE national safety office Jonathan Clissold told H&H on Sunday that he was meeting with BE staff on Monday to discuss the issue.

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Francis Whittington (pictured top) wears the PROtector Cool XCountry Helmet, which is supplied to him by the company free of charge.

“This is the safest hat I’ve ever ridden in and I buy them for my family,” he told H&H. “I wouldn’t ride in any other hat by choice. This is an example of unintended consequences — the idea of the rule is to stop fixed peaks, but suddenly this reinforcement is being classed as a protrusion.”

Riders have expressed their frustration with the announcement on social media, particularly as many have bought new hats this season to comply with new rules and until now the PROtector Cool XCountry Helmet appeared to be permitted for cross-country.