The hat worn by a rider who broke her neck in a fall “absorbed a tremendous blow”, according to manufacturers.
Karen McCord, who fractured a vertebra on 22 April when she fell from a friend’s horse, sent her hat back to Champion for it to be examined.
A spokesman for Champion said that although all products are subject to “extensive testing”, they appreciate feedback from riders.
The spokesman added: “We can learn a lot more from hats such as Karen’s that have been involved in real-life accident situations.
“Karen was wearing a Champion X-air riding hat, which was produced to meet PAS 015 2011.
“It was inspected by our safety experts for damage and the findings indicate that Karen’s hat absorbed a tremendous blow.”
From the outside, signs such as a tear to the suede covering showed the hat had been involved in an accident.
The spokesman said: “However, this was just superficial damage and it was the internal protective structures that took the brunt of the impact and did their job exceptionally well in terms of protecting Karen’s head.
“When the shock absorbing liner was removed along with the head lining and suede covering, it was quite evident that this hat was involved in a high energy impact.
“The polystyrene liner was reduced in thickness at the lower rear right area from 17mm to 6mm – a 65% compaction as a result of the impact.
“There was a deep crease in the polystyrene on the outer surface and the shell had a significant bruise directly above the crease, and a smaller bruise below the scuff marks at the top rear of the shell.
“There was also a dent at the top end of the bruise, consistent with Karen’s head hitting a sharp penetrative surface.”
Mrs McCord, who expects to make a full recovery, told H&H she credited the hat for saving her life, and urged other riders to make sure theirs are fitted properly and conform to appropriate safety standards.
“My surgeon said if I hadn’t been wearing one I would have been brain damaged and in a wheelchair,” she said.
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The Champion spokesman added: “What Karen’s experience shows is that a price just can’t be put on your safety and riders should always, ALWAYS wear an up to standard riding hat while riding.
“Karen’s Champion X-Air cost just £79 and while her injuries were extensive, the outcome could have been much worse.
“Everyone at Champion would like to wish Karen a full and speedy recovery and the very best of luck and good wishes for the future.”