Helmet care insights - keep that brain bucket clean and cared for!
Most of us use a helmet in some form or fashion on a daily basis when working with horses - grooming, lungeing, hacking, etc. Let's not dance around the issue of helmet care - we all know that helmets can get stinky gross so easily...
So I have asked one of our awesome friends, Emily Wigley, to share her insights with us on this subject. Emily runs Bling Bands for Helmets - a great way to spice up your brain bucket. Here is what Emily shares with us about helmet care, in this Part Two of our Helmet Series: The Care & Feeding of Your Helmet (Ok, it doesn't need to be fed, but it does need care, and eventual replacement.) You can read Emily's first article on helmet fit here.
"Equestrian helmets are classified as single impact helmets, meaning that if it falls it should be replaced. If you can land on your feet and do a gymnastics style salute when you're bucked off, you don't need to replace your helmet. If you fall off and your head hits the ground, you do need to replace it. If you throw your helmet to your truck, tack trunk or unsuspecting parent's hands and it hits hard or misses, you need to replace your helmet. (What about dropping it in the cross ties on concrete?) Hang it securely in the grooming bay, or wear it, to prevent dropping your helmet on the concrete or wood floor in the cross ties. Often the damage from a single impact is invisible.
Helmets are designed and tested for these single impacts, and the technology and materials that keep us safe are ever changing, changing so rapidly that after five years your helmet is out of date! The materials have degraded and the technology has improved in five years, so treat yourself to a sensible new helmet every five years. Look at the label for manufacture date, and say "Happy 5th birthday, helmet, we had some fun rides, now you'll be thrown away, kept as a souvenier or used as a hanging petunia basket!" Replace it when? Definitely when it's had a fall or is five years old.
Other times to replace your helmet include when anything about the fit changes, or it is uncomfortable or some aspect of it fails. Fit changes include head growth for children, hair style changes, and breakage of chinstrap clips, adjusting mechanisms or anything else on the helmet.
The other way it may no longer fit is when you have a really padded helmet that fit the day you bought it, but the padding has compressed. Bummer, it's now too big. Don't add padding unless it comes from the helmet manufacturer of the helmet, or get a new helmet!
Some helmets have removable and washable padding. Great for summer!
Helmets are easy to clean on the outside and inside, just follow the manufacturer's cleaning instructions, which are usually simple. Sometimes helmets have so much padding that they absorb sweat and get stinky. You have a choice - get a helmet that fits without all that padding, or use a deodorizing spray or absorbing product to get the funk out. Let it air dry between sweaty rides. If you ride several horses each day, you may want to invest in a second helmet. Just keep in mind that perspiration is your body's way of cooling you off! Store your helmet out of direct sunlight - not in the car! Put on a helmet cover or put it in a bag or box to keep it clean. Direct sunlight breaks down the helmet materials. If you notice your plastic skinned helmet wrinkling or bubbling (like the photo), replace it."
Thanks Emily! I'll add that a quick search of your tack store (online or in person) will turn up several helmet funk removing products - pick which one works with your helmet brand and it will stay fresh!