Q: MY son Ethan was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome 18 months ago — he is now four — and one of his “obsessions” is horses.
Ethan has just started riding lessons but he has a wide, flat head and we can’t find a riding hat that fits — he returned from his last lesson wearing the stables’ hat sideways.
Our local saddler found a hat wide enough for Ethan’s head but she said the amount of padding it would need at the front would make it unsafe. Her only suggestion was to get a hat made-to-measure but said it would not meet current safety standards so the stables wouldn’t accept it. Can you help?
HAT company Charles Owen has received many similar requests and is keen to try to help Ethan.
“We can do a made-to-measure hat and we will do all we can to accommodate Ethan, but we are limited to a certain extent by the shell sizes we use,” said a company spokesman.
The company has invited Ethan to its North Wales factory where, after it has produced a template, it can tell whether it can tailor any of its shells to fit Ethan’s head. The company’s designer will do all he can to fit a hat that will at least conform to BSEN1384.
Alternatively, the Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA) told us that all hats worn in RDA sessions must carry the current safety kitemark except if no such hat is suitable and written and signed confirmation by a physiotherapist has been received. This might be something your local stables would agree to so it’s worth discussing with them.
Paul Baynham-Honri from Patey, who specialises in made-to-measure hats, is often asked — but has yet to find a definitive answer — whether its hats would be allowed in riding schools on medical grounds. He would be happy to measure Ethan for a bespoke hat. His prices start at £425.
Charles Owen Tel: 01978 317777 www.charlesowen.co.uk
This Q&A was first published in Horse & Hound (1 May, ’08)