Voices Concern Over Hat Research
British Equestrian Trade Association (BETA) has hit out following
a story in a national newspaper at the weekend that claims most
riding hats 'fail to protect' their riders. This is simply not true.
implication of by ENHAP (Equestrian New Helmet Assessment Programme)
have been strongly refuted by BETA and leading riding hat manufacturers
who feel the story will cause unnecessary fear and uncertainty over
safety issues in the minds of the thousands of people who ride in
all times, BETA encourages tests and trials aimed at making riding
safer for all, but is seriously concerned about the claims and implications
of the ENHAP results which are, at best, meaningless and, at worst,
will cause greater rider confusion.
numerous attempts to obtain representation on the working party
that established the testing protocols, BETA as a representative
of both the manufacturing and retail trade, was excluded. Indeed,
the working party did not even attempt to seek any type of advice
from manufacturers, who between them, have over 156 years of equestrian
safety heritage. Manufacturers have also invested a considerable
amount of money ensuring rider safety is to the highest of British
standards through the BSI kitemark. The kitemark guarantees that
hats have been produced to the stringent standards through a series
of independent tests (this means, on average, one riding hat is
tested every single working day of the year).
Chief Executive and Secretary Claire Williams said: "The article
that appeared has factual inaccuracies and there is the danger that
it could cause unnecessary concern amongst riders and parents.
already invest thousands of pounds per annum in the development
of new and safer hats, including new methods to test their safety.
These tests are carried out to the highest of standards and involvement
in the development of ENHAP would have opened the working party
up to many years of experience. Working together, we could have
achieved a more rounded and accurate programme."
number of concerns have been raised by manufacturers directly in
regard to ENHAP.
still do not feel that Star ratings are the best way of indicating
the safety of a hat," continues Ms Williams. " We are
concerned that if decisions are based solely on these ratings, then
the standard that the hat meets or the purpose for which it was
intended may become secondary factors, creating the potential for
a higher incidence of accidents."
to Dr Michael Whitlock, Consultant in Accident and Emergency and
Medical Adviser to CEN for Protective Sports Equipment, it is meaningless
to say that a 3-star rating is better than a 1-star rating because
it depends on the standard to which the hat is made, the accident
that could occur and whether or not the hat fits correctly.
undertaken by Dr Whitlock reveals that the incidence of head injuries
has decreased dramatically since 1995. This is a direct result of
the introduction of standards like EN1384 and PAS 15 which replaced
the existing standards. Continued education amongst riders to ensure
that they are wearing properly fitted hats designed to the recognised
standards, is therefore imperative.
has also expressed concern on a number of other points with regard
to the testing.
The ENHAP research was undertaken without a penetration test which
is a feature of both the EN1384 and PAS 15. However, a crush test,
which is still in development and is as yet unproven, was included
although we understand that the results were withdrawn in the final
All of the hats tested as part of the ENHAP research are approved
to the recognised European or American standards.
Of the 55 hats tested for side impact, only 15 then underwent a
full testing through all eight controlled tests. These 15 are then
compared with the other 40 on the same footing. Some of these forty
may therefore have scored better had they been tested using some
of the other parameters.
The ENHAP testing is on three sizes only in the final round, rather
than a full range and is a one-off field trial process. This is
compared with the Kitemark procedure whereby all hats are tested
on an ongoing basis and on a wider range of sizes to guarantee that
they are completely up to the British safety standards.
The variability of these results emphases the importance of constant
testing. This is highlighted by the fact that two of the helmets
tested which are identical in manufacture and different only in
label have achieved different star ratings.
Ms Williams: "BETA is committed to supporting all initiatives
which are aimed at improving safety standards but the association
is genuinely concerned that the ENHAP findings are confusing and
may be misunderstood. The riding hats in the research have been
subjected to tests that they were not designed to meet and the overall
picture which has emerged from the testing does not give a true
picture of the standards or current situation.
aim, at all times, should be to encourage riders to keep improving
their riding hats, and to encourage them to purchase new, up-to-date
models which have achieved the highest of standards throughout testing
and research. Through years of experience, we know that if riders
are confused about safety, they are less likely to change their
hat. As an industry, we recommend that hats are changed on a three
to five year basis, unless they have been involved in an accident,
in which case they should be changed immediately. There are so many
factors that can influence a correctly fitting hat - a simple change
in hair style, a drop on the floor or natural head growth can all
alter the correct fit of a hat.
we are concerned that the ENHAP results will make purchasing more
of a minefield for consumers and the retailers trying to provide
appropriate advice. As a result of this, we will find that riders
will take the easy option and opt to continue using their current
model, rather than considering what is the best option for their