How To Check If Your Riding Hat Fits Correctly

If you haven’t worn your hat for a little while, if it feels uncomfy or loose, or you think your child’s head might have grown; you will need to check that your riding helmet still fits correctly before getting into the saddle.

Whatever style your hat is – whether it’s a jockey skull cap, a traditional velvet riding hat, or a modern riding helmet, these fitting principles remain the same:

  • Check for a snug fit. Your hat is designed to lock onto your head – this feels like the hat is latching on and gripping to the back of your head
  • With the harness unfastened the helmet should not move backwards, forwards, or side to side
  • There should be firm and even pressure around the entire head
  • There should be no specific pressure points
  • There should be no large gaps between your head and the helmet
  • The helmet should sit straight across your forehead
  • The helmet should cover the forehead and leave approximately one fingers width above the eyebrows
  • When fastened, the harness should gently touch the earlobe, and the chinstrap should have 1 finger space, and not be able to lift over the chin
  • Wear your hat for some time around the house to ensure it remains comfy and no pressure points develop.

Parents can sometimes be tempted to buy a helmet a size too big so the child has room to grow. However, if the helmet doesn’t fit snugly on the child’s head for every ride it isn’t safe. Don’t risk your child’s safety!

If you are unsure of the fit of your helmet, or if you need to purchase a new riding hat, it is recommended that you visit a BETA (British Equestrian Trade Association) Approved Retailer. At Eland Lodge we offer a free fitting and checking service with our fully trained and qualified staff.

How to tell if your riding hat is too small

Riding hats are designed to have a secure, snug fit and not move on your head, however if your riding hat is too small, you may notice the following:

  • The hat feels painfully tight
  • The hat feels like it is perched on the top of your head
  • The hat does not lock onto the back of your head
  • The hat does not cover the forehead sufficiently
  • The hat causes pressure points
  • The hat slips forwards, backwards or sideways
  • The hat leaves an aggressive indent on your forehead

Some riders feel that their hat may be causing them a headache or a migraine. Although it is often assumed that this is because the hat is too tight, there are actually a number of different causes for this: The hat could be the wrong shape, there could be a pressure point, you could be tensing your neck, or the hat could be touching a trigger point on your head. If this occurs it is advisable to take your hat to a BETA Approved retailer to have the fit checked. They will be able to discuss your needs and see if a different style helmet, such as a lightweight or adjustable model would suit you better.

How to tell if your riding hat is too big

If your riding hat is too big you may notice the following:

  • The hat feels like it is loose on your head
  • The hat does not lock onto the back of your head
  • Your hat comes down close to or over your eyebrows
  • You hat slips forwards, backwards or sideways
  • There are gaps in between your head and the hat

Professionally Fitted Riding Hats

It is recommended that you visit a BETA (British Equestrian Trade Association) Approved retailer with fully trained and qualified staff to get your hat professionally fitted.

Here at Eland Lodge we offer a free hat fitting service to make sure you get the perfect fit for you. Here’s the process a hat fitter will take to ensure your hat gives the best fit.

Professional Hat Fit - Step 1

Measuring your head

A soft fabric tape measure will be placed around the widest part of your head. This will follow a line approximately ¾” above your eyebrows, just above your ear, and around the bump at the back of your head. All measurements will be taken in cm’s.

Like clothes, all hat styles and sizings give a slightly different fit, so these measurements will be used as a guide as to which hats will brought out for you to try on.

Professional Hat Fit - Step 2

Determining your head shape

Although everyone’s head is a slightly different shape, there are two main types: round or oval. Our hat fitter will look from all angles to see if you need to try on standard oval fit or round fit hats.

Professional Hat Fit - Step 3

Getting "the lock"

When putting a helmet on, we are looking to get ‘the lock’. This is a sensation of the helmet latching and gripping onto the back of your head, which means it is on properly, secure and safe.

  1. The hat will be placed on forehead into the front of the helmet first
  2. The helmet will then be pushed gently backwards onto the head in a rolling motion
  3. The hat fitter will look, listen and feel for the helmet locking into the back of the head
  4. The hat fitter will then check for any movement, and also any gaps or loose points, and you will be asked about pressure points.
Professional Hat Fit - Step 4

Fastening the helmet

You should always have your helmet fastened when you are in the saddle or around your horse. In the event of an accident this will help prevent your helmet from being knocked or falling from your head.

To fasten your riding hat correctly:

  • Do up the chin strap first
  • You should be able to fit 1 finger between your chin and the strap
  • If your helmet has a lace fastening at the back, you should then knot and bow this as tightly as possible, without affecting the fit of the harness.

To fasten a dial fit hat correctly:

  • You should put your helmet on when it is on the loosest setting
  • You should then adjust the dial to fit with one hand, whilst your other hand holds the hat down on top of your head
  • Before removing you helmet you should undo the dial to the loosest setting
  • This helps prevent the strap from becoming stretched.

Watch this video: one of our qualified hat fitters takes you through how a professional riding hat fitting takes place at a BETA Approved Retailer.

What do riding hat sizes mean?

Here we’ve included the Charles Owen size comparison chart as a guide to how the different sizing scales tally. Typically modern riding hats, helmets and skull caps are now measured in cm’s. As with clothing this sizing does vary slightly between brands.

Size in cm’s Traditional Riding Hat Sizing Traditional Jockey Skull Cap Sizing
49cm 6 000
50cm 6 1/8 000 1/2
51cm 6 1/4 00
52cm 6 3/8 00 1/2
53cm 6 1/2 0
54cm 6 5/8 0 1/2
55cm 6 3/4 1
56cm 6 7/8 1 1/2
57cm 7 2
58cm 7 1/8 2 1/2
59cm 7 1/4 3
60cm 7 3/8 3 1/2
61cm 7 1/2 4
62cm 7 5/8 4 1/2
63cm 7 3/4 5
64cm 7 7/8 5 1/2
65cm 8 6

For more information about riding hats, check out our guide on "Everything You Need To Know About Riding Hats".