Post-Fall: Do you replace your helmet?

Most people that have been riding for awhile have heard that once a helmet sustains a good fall, it should be replaced, regardless of whether you see visible damage or not.

Directly from the Samshield website:

“In case of violent impact on a helmet, the inner shell (in polystyrene) will crush and lose its shape in order to absorb the impact. From then on, the polystyrene shell will never have the required thickness to absorb another impact if you fall again. This is the reason why we have to change the helmet in case of important impact.”


So what exactly qualifies as a “violent impact”? At what point do you decide to shell out for a replacement? I tend to be on the really conservative side when it comes to this. The newest study on helmet safety seems to indicate that not all helmets are created equal to start with, much less how well they work after a fall.

My barnmate Liana in the irons

I’m pretty fond of my brain, and especially fond of keeping it where it belongs in my skull. It’s already been cut open once (surgery when I was young), and I’d really like to avoid any further trauma if possible. I’ve had an eye on those Trauma Void EQ3 helmets since they came out, and read about how Amanda is enjoying hers. I reasoned with myself that I already had 2 perfectly good helmets (practice and show Samshields) and that neither had ever experienced an impact, so I probably didn’t need a new helmet. I made a deal with myself though that if I fell off and my hit my head in either one, I would replace it with a Trauma Void, even if I am not in love with their ‘aesthetic’. Safety first and all!

Well, it may not be obvious in the fall video, but I did bonk my head pretty good. It HURT. I sat on the ground for a few minutes and cried a bit until I could pull myself together. I didn’t feel it was hard enough to warrant a trip to the hospital for a CT scan, but it did hurt. I took OTC pain pills for the rest of the day and still had a low grade headache until well into the evening.



So, was that a bad enough fall to replace the helmet? It’s about 2 years old, and this is my first fall in it. In my eyes- yes. Whether my helmet is actually impaired or not, it’s enough of a risk in my eyes to spend a couple hundred to replace it. A brain injury is WAY more costly of course, not to mention the value of quality of life if I got seriously injured. I instantly knew that I would be getting a Trauma Void. I’d already made a deal with myself after all!

My local tack store doesn’t carry them, so it called for a trip to Dover. My barn bestie and I met up there the next evening, and drifted over to the helmets. I was very disappointed  to find that they do not fit my head AT ALL. I tried 3 different sizes, and none was remotely close to feeling like a good fit. Even a size up from what I normally wear was very tight across my forehead, and it felt extremely perched on top of my head. I get that the design of these is different and they might feel a bit different, but the forehead pressure alone meant it wouldn’t work for me. I was super disappointed.

Liana and Rio

What to do now? I am not sure, but I will likely get another Samshield. After all, I’ve had several pretty harsh falls in Sammys over the years (once where I went to the ER and once where I hit so hard I broke a molar), and I have never gotten a concussion in one. So… they have served me pretty well. I think I am just going to replace my practice one. I typically buy from Europe (saves about $100) but since International Helmet Awareness Day is coming up, I’m going to hold off for a bit and see what the sales look like.


In other news, my friend Liana and I hung out at the barn together last night. Liana takes lessons Bay Yard, but doesn’t have her own brown unicorn just yet. I’m always excited to see other people ride Rio, so we got her up on him last night. Barn time, friends, and wine are basically my ideal night, so needless to say we had a ton of fun!

After riding and grooming Rio to the nines, Liana helped me try to get some good pics of Rio. Conformation shots are HARD y’all! Like… Rio was having none of it. These definitely do not qualify as conformation shots, seeing as I was backing him up, shooting from an angle (making his head look bigger then it is and his butt look tiny), and letting him rest a leg. So…. don’t judge me! He’s cute though, so I wanted to share anyway Hah.

After we were done torturing taking pictures of Rio, we make him very happy by turning him out for the evening with the donks. He can’t complain, he lives a good life.


So what about you guys? When do you replace  your helmet? Do you like watching other people ride your horse?




You may also like


  1. If safety is your priority, Charles Owen is the other best option. They are extremely well made and thoroughly tested, always performing at or near the top of any study. They have a few different fits now, so you might be able to find one that works.

    I’ve been happy with my Samshield, its a BEAUTIFUL helmet and really comfortable, but seeing how poorly it’s done in a couple different studies, I won’t be buying another. :/

  2. The last time I fell off, my head hit the ground second, and I felt like I should get a new helmet after that, so I did. I have about another year on my current helmet, unless I hit my head in it, of course. (I am a little nervous that I haven’t fallen off in so long and expect it at any minute at this point.)

  3. I haven’t had a fall (yet) that mandated a new helmet, but my CO is 5 years old so I’m planning to purchase a new helmet on helmet day this summer. I’m hoping the TV fits my noggin, but if not I’ll get another CO. I LOVE how my CO fits and considering how well they do in their own as well as outside testing, I feel like they are the best noggin protectors other than TV.
    Other ppl riding my horse makes me VERY nervous. Not for the horse or the rider, but for me. All the horses I own and ride now have been trained pretty much 100% by me, so any holes in their training reflect on me. That being said, Sterling is being leased and his lessor ADORES him. 🙂

  4. I will replace a helmet if I fall on my head. Knock on wood, I haven’t come off in 4 or so years and did not hit my head.
    I’ve had two other helmets since then trying to find something that fits. Having a huge head sucks, nothing fits.

    I am in a Kask now, but Charles Owen was the only other thing that fit me so my options are super limited.

    And I love watching other people ride my horse ! I had 3 other people ride her for me while I was away, today is my first real ride on her in over two weeks now since she had tossed a shoe before I got home. I am looking forward to it, she always feels so good after.

  5. After a fall, or when my helmet is too disgusting to wear anymore are pretty much when I call it quits. I have a Tipperary for jumping that has great vents, but I need to check into how it ranks safety wise…

  6. sorry they didn’t fit right. Helmets are so hard which is why I love my OneK since it fits me so well. Knock on wood Havent had a fall in it but how long do helmets last? I think this is going on 3 years??? I dont want to even think about buying a new one (I had a schooling one but that fell apart finally LOL)…

    When is Helmet Day??

    And your friend looks ahmazing on Rio (not that you don’t too)! HA looks like fun was had 🙂

    Glad you are okay. I guess our heads are just as hard as we think they areLOL 🙂

  7. You should see what Samshield’s replacement policy is. Because I tend to ride young horses and young horses are unpredictable, I tend to get separated from saddle more often than your average rider. Charles Owen’s replacement policy has helmet’s being replaceable at a discount depending on their age. If your Samshield is still relatively young Samshield may give you a steep discount on a replacement.

  8. I replace my helmet if I hit my head- if I feel my head touched the ground hard, the helmet is GONE.

    I did, however, replace my 4 year old Charles Owen because it molded after sitting in my tack trunk for 2 days. Alabama was a special nightmare of a place….

  9. I def replace my helmet after any impact/trauma and I encourage all of my customers to do the same. Proper fit should always come first over whatever is trendy. I had a Samshield, which I loved, but it never seemed to fit my head quite right. I currently have a Kask Dogma Star Lady and it is the best fitting helmet I have ever owned!! I love it!! I feel like the Kask helmets people either love or hate.

  10. I tend to err on the side of replacement. If my head hits the ground in a fall, I replace the helmet. I also replace helmets at five years old. I got a concussion last year and that has only made me more intense about protecting my noggin.

  11. I replace every 5 years or after a significant fall where my head hits the ground as a primary or secondary impact. Fortunately, my hips and shoulders tend to take the brunt of my falls and not my head! I’ve had mild concussions (headache, sometimes nausea) from my other sports, but so far, not horseback riding!

  12. I usually end up falling with my back or arm as the point of impact. If my head were a major point of impact (or even minor if I hit it on the ground instead of my normal resting it there after I realize what has happened) then I would definitely replace it.

    FYI – International Helmet Day is August 18/19 so check with retailers about discounts. Many of them will participate in this event 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *