Accidents serve as timely reminder why a well-fitting riding hat is essential *H&H Plus*

  • Following a number of recent accidents and near-misses in which safety equipment has demonstrated its value, H&H has been finding out whether you can get an expert fitting of a riding hat or body protector while the pandemic continues...

    RIDERS have been urged to ensure they continue to have hats and body protectors professionally fitted during the pandemic.

    H&H has reported on recent accidents and near-misses, serving as a timely reminder of the importance of wearing up-to-standard and properly fitted hats when riding and handling horses.

    These include leading US showjumper Laura Kraut, who had a lucky escape in a fall this summer when her horse, Jakarta, stood on her head. She escaped with concussion and a broken nose.

    Charles Owen shared photos of her hat, which had a stud hole in its side and protected her from more serious injury.

    The company urged riders to check the hats they wear meet appropriate crush protection standards.

    “What could have been a much worse injury wasn’t just prevented because she wore a helmet, but because she wore the right helmet,” said a spokesman.

    Eventer Stacey Shimmons, who has competed up to five-star and worked with horses all her life, encouraged others to consider wearing a hat when handling horses after she was kicked in the head while hand-grazing at an event.

    Stacey, who needed stitches, told H&H the horse she was grazing is “very sensible” but was spooked by a sign. She wanted her experience to serve as a reminder that things can happen when you least expect them, and to consider wearing a hat on the ground, particularly in “buzzy” situations.

    Amateur eventer Darcie Lattin, who suffered a compression fracture to a vertebrae in a fall at home in 2017, wants to reduce the stigma around wearing body protectors.

    “I think as a community, we have a responsibility to say, ‘If you want to wear one, we encourage you to,’” she told H&H. “It’s not a negative to wear one, it’s positive, and if the people around you can’t see that, and support you, you’re around the wrong people.

    “I was very lucky; I was on a ward with people who weren’t so lucky and that’s why I’m passionate about this.”

    Top eventer Paul Tapner is recovering from two bleeds on the brain and a mild stroke, suffered in a fall in August. Paul and his wife Georgina urged others to ensure that, like Paul, they wear a safety helmet while riding, pointing out that Paul was only hacking an advanced horse, at home, when he fell.

    Paul told H&H: “It’s not hard to stick on a hat and body protector every time you ride or feel you need it.”

    British Equestrian Trade Association (BETA) executive director Claire Williams told H&H riders can “most definitely” be fitted with hats and body protectors in line with Covid-safe guidance.

    “BETA issued all our members with Covid-related protocols as lockdown ended with examples of appropriate risk assessments and guidelines on how to fit people safely,” she said.

    “These incorporate PPE precautions where closer contact is required, new distanced methods of checking and other steps such as asking riders to make appointments for fittings and allowing extra time.

    “Since the end of lockdown we have, pleasingly, seen a real leap in the numbers of riders going in for fittings and increased demand – possibly due to the inability to use events to get fittings but also possibly a heightened awareness of how important it is to stay safe when riding.

    “After all, the safest hat can only do its job when it is fitted correctly.”

    H&H 15 Oct 2020


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