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Safety

 

For information on Members' Personal Accident Insurance, which is now provided separately for junior and adult members, please to the PA insurance page.

 


Helmet Requirements from 30 September 2003

As you know, we are now operating under a new insurance package that allows us to run broadly under our own rules. The table below is a guide to helmet requirements.

We continue to have a requirement to follow good risk management practices and to develop them further.

Discipline (Code) Training and Practice
(at competition venue)
Competition
(inc. final Warm-up and Presentation)
Dressage Helmet

Riders under 18 years: Helmet up to and including medium level. As per EFA/FEI Rules at higher levels

18 and over: As per EA/FEI rules.

Jumping Helmet Helmet (may be removed during presentations)
Eventing Helmet As per EA/FEI rules (i.e. helmet except in Dressage at 2-star level and above)
Show Horse Helmet Riders under 18 years: Helmet (as per EA Rules)
Vaulting
As per EA/FEI rules.
As per EA/FEI Rules.
Carriage Driving – Marathon Helmet Helmet
Carriage Driving – Other As per EA/FEI rules As per EA/FEI Rules.
Endurance Helmet Helmet

 

 

Revised Helmet Standard

Standards Australia has published a revised standard on helmets for horse riding and horse-related activities (AS 3838:2006). This standard includes some minor changes to, and an elaboration of, testing procedures and adds some appendices. Appendix C "Helmet Information" is quite informative and should be read by all involved in Equestrian sports.

We have obtained permission from SAI Global Ltd under license 0806-C114 to reproduce this appendix. Please note that the licence granted cannot be transferred so the material is still copyright. The complete Standard can be purchased on line at http://www.saiglobal.com. We thank SAI Global for granting us permission to reproduce this material.

APPENDIX C of Standard AS NZS 3838-2006 Helmets for horse riding and horse-related activities

Reproduced with permission from SAI Global. Please note that this extract is subject to copyright.

APPENDIX C
HELMET INFORMATION
(Informative)


C1 SELECTION

C1.1 Style

Helmets may be designed for general purpose riding or to suit a specific horse related
activity. For instance a jockey helmet may be designed to specific weight, balance and
vision criteria. Regardless of this specialization, all helmets that meet this Standard meet
the same basic minimum performance criteria.

C1.2 Peaks
A peak is optional. It may be fixed permanently to the helmet or be detachable. Its purpose
may be aesthetic and/or to provide shade to the wearer.

C1.3 Other attachments
Peaks are the only attachments covered by this Standard. Other attachments such as polo
visors, face shields, silk colours, etc. are not covered by this Standard. Their use and means
of attachment may increase the risk or severity of injury to the wearer. Specific advice
should be sought from the manufacturers of the attachment and helmet. No attachments
should be made without the helmet manufacturer’s approval.

C1.4 Colour
Darker colours will tend to be hotter than lighter colours.

C1.5 Ventilation
Shell ventilation is an optional feature. Vents may increase comfort but they allow for the
possibility of solid objects entering through a vent and contacting the head. Rain will also
enter through the vents.

C1.6 Size and fit
Selecting the correct size and fit of helmet is crucial. For children, never select a helmet
that is too large on the basis that they will ‘grow into it’.
Bulky hairstyles and wearing hair ‘up’ may reduce helmet stability.
When wearing a helmet always have the retention system done up.
Read the manufacturer’s instructions on how to select and fit a helmet. Poor-fitting or
inappropriate helmets will not provide optimum protection.

C1.7 Comfort
Comfort is very subjective. This Standard does not attempt to address issues of comfort.
What one person finds comfortable, another may find very uncomfortable. Users must
ensure their own comfort by attention to helmet size, fit, weight, balance, retention system
style, verification, etc.

C2 CARE AND MAINTENANCE

C2.1 Cleaning
Refer to the manufacturer’s instructions. Usually, cleaning with warm soapy water is
recommended.

C2.2 Storage
Helmets should be stored away from heat and direct sunlight. They should not be stored
under heavy objects. Wet helmets should be dried out slowly e.g. in clothes airing
cupboard, before storage. Helmets subjected to salt water or salt spray should be cleaned
with fresh water after use.
When not in use helmets should be kept away from damaging direct sunlight and heat and
should not be left on the parcel shelves of cars or elsewhere in a sealed vehicle which is
exposed to the sun.

C2.3 Repairs
It is rarely cost effective to repair a helmet, however, some minor parts (e.g. buckles) may
be replaceable.
Helmets damaged in an accident cannot be repaired. The helmet should be destroyed and
replaced.

C2.4 Chemical damage
Products such as petrol, oils, other petroleum products, paints, adhesives, cleaning agents,
dry cleaning fluids, etc. may attack the helmet and reduce its effectiveness. Such damage
may not be visible. Painting helmets is generally discouraged and it is not safe to assume
that water based paints will not harm the helmet. Specific advice should be sought from
both the paint and helmet manufacturers.

C2.5 Rough treatment
Helmets should be treated with due care. They are relatively robust and durable, but
kicking, dropping, standing on, sitting on, using as a wheel chock, allowing to roll around
unrestrained in a moving vehicle, etc. may damage them.

C2.6 Life expectancy
The life expectancy of a helmet is variable, and no precise life can be stated. They are not
indestructible, and they do not last forever. Helmet life depends on the frequency and
conditions of use, care and storage. Helmets showing obvious signs of damage or wear
should be replaced. In general helmets have a useable life of 5 years. Those used very
frequently may require earlier replacement.

C3 ACCIDENT DAMAGE
A helmet is designed to help protect the wearer by absorbing shock. Shock absorption is
achieved by partial destruction of the internal linings and the shell. This damage is usually
invisible. Any helmet which receives a significant impact which includes (but not limited to)
the following, should be destroyed or replaced.

(a) Causes a loss of conscious or memory.
(b) Causes a headache (immediate or delayed).
(c) Causes dizziness, concussion or similar trauma.
(d) Crushes the helmet, e.g. horse crushing helmet side to side.
(e) Causes any visible damage to the helmet.

Testing a helmet actually destroys it. Therefore helmets cannot be tested to see if they are
‘still safe’. Visual inspection by trained personnel can show up some forms of accident
damage. Inspection can show a helmet is ‘unsafe’ but cannot show if it is ‘safe’, as some
damage may be invisible.

Reproduced with permission from SAI Global Ltd under License 0806-C144 www.saiglobal.com. Please note that this extract is subject to copyright.

 

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Horse-related injuries in Australia

The National Injury Surveillance Unit is undertaking continued research into horse related injuries in Australia. With over 17,000 members of Equestrian Australia, 30,000 horses registered to compete in events sponsored by 400 affiliated clubs, together with 60,000 members of pony clubs and 5,000 rodeo competitors, there is a huge potential for damage and injury when riding horses.

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare publishes regular bulletins outlining the risks involved with horse riding. Whilst research has shown that death and injury from horse riding is a small percentage of overall injury cases, it also indicated that when injury did occur it tended to be more serious.

Equestrian Australia is actively involved in a number of projects which look at the incidence of accidents in horse sport, and is working to make the sport safer for all participants. We have an active involvement with the Flinders University of South Australia Research Centre for Injury Studies, which publishes the Australian Injury Prevention Bulletin and is undertaking extensive research into horse sports.

We are committed to providing a safe environment for all participants in horse sports.

You can download the report of the Research Centre "Monitoring Falls During Eventing" (PDF - 234KB) published at the end of May 2004.

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Monitoring falls during eventing - a collaborative project

In November 1999, Dr Raymond Cripps, of the Research Centre for Injury Studies at Flinders University in South Australia, proposed a pilot study in collaboration with Equestrian Australia (EA) to determine the feasibility of a national system to monitor rider injuries from falls in eventing. Funding was successfully sought from the Rural Industries Research & Development Corporation (RIRDC). The pilot study concentrates on events in New South Wales and South Australia during the 2001 eventing season and began in March 2001.

At all events in NSW and SA during the current season, if a rider falls during the cross-country phase, the Jump Judge completes a Falls Reporting Form, as already required by the EA. This form identifies horse and rider, type of obstacle, and whether horse and rider fell, or only the rider. In addition, the form notes any obvious injuries to horse and rider and gives some information about the fall itself. These forms are sent to the Project team, along with other information about the event, including the program, score sheets, EA Steward's reports, etc.

Riders identified through this process are sent purpose-designed questionnaires to obtain their perspective on factors that may have contributed to the fall, as well as details of the fall itself, and any information about previous falls and injuries.

Even with the limited amount of data gathered so far, patterns are already emerging which could be used to direct rider safety initiatives. The success so far of the pilot study indicates that an ongoing and in-depth monitoring program Australia-wide is feasible.
 

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Safety and Helmets

The EA sees itself as having a major role in the setting of standards and educating its members and the general public in matters of safety when dealing with horses.

The wearing of protective headgear has been shown to have a major influence on the reduction of horse related injuries and the use of a properly fitted and fastened helmet when riding and handling horses is recommended.

The EA, through its discipline committees, regulates the conduct of official events and competitors in official or affiliated competitions in showjumping, eventing and saddlehorse (junior classes only) are required to wear riding helmets which have been accepted by EA.

The current standards we accept are those which have been set by Standards Australia after extensive research and industry consultation and those standards which are accepted in the USA and Europe. Details of these are:


AS/NZS 3838 Current Australian and NZ standard
   
EN 1384 Current European standard
   
ASTN F1163 Current US standard
   

 


When purchasing a helmet, riders should check to ensure that the helmet meets one or more of the above standards and fits securely.

Helmets should be replaced after any moderate to severe blows or after the recommended replacement time specified in the information provided with the helmet.

Standards Australia is currently reviewing helmet standards and the EA has a representative on the consultative committee. Members are welcome to contact the State offices or the National office with their views or submissions for Standards Australia or may look at the information provided on the Standards Australia website www.standards.com.au
 

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Pregnancy & Equestrian Sports

The question of pregnancy and sport has lurked in the background for many years, but has recently been pushed to the fore with the recent case involving Netball Australia. A National Forum on Pregnancy and Sport was held in Sydney on 1 August this year, with participants from state and national sporting organisations, departments of sport, EEO and anti-discrimination agencies, media, sports lawyers and medical practitioners including Sports Medicine Australia. Legal, ethical, insurance, statistical, political and medical aspects were considered carefully.

In Equestrian sport, I am unaware of any episodes where the pregnancy of a rider was an issue, and indeed many remember leading riders such as jumper Vicki Roycroft and, more recently, eventer Karen Owen competing at top level towards the end of their pregnancies, and producing offspring without drama only a few weeks later.

Medical aspects:

Equestrian sport carries an inherent risk. The main risk is physical trauma from falls, and obviously some disciplines of the sport carry relatively more risk than others ... for example the faster sports involving Jumping, such as Show Jumping and particularly Eventing, would incur a higher risk of trauma than the quieter disciplines of, say, Hacking or Dressage. None-the-less, there is still some possibility of falls inducing trauma in all Equestrian disciplines.
No recommendations are based on proper studies. There is little scientific or statistical data on Equestrian activities and pregnancy (as with virtually all sports). Recommendations regarding risks therefore are based on anecdote and individual medical opinions. On the contrary, there are also anecdote-based medical opinions that physically fit women and sportswomen in particular
do better in labour.

In theory, trauma to a baby is most likely related to abdominal trauma, usually causing abruption of the placenta, a dangerous condition where the placenta partially or completely comes away from the wall of the uterus, interrupting the circulation to the baby. I am not aware of reports of this happening in the past in Equestrian accidents, either in studies or in case reports, but it is quite possible that it has happened, and been unreported. It certainly is well recognised in trauma caused by other accidents. Studies have shown that injuries to the abdomen, pelvis and chest comprise less than 2% of all horse related injuries presenting to hospitals. However, these injuries are likely to be seen in a proportionately higher incidence in Jumping and particularly Eventing, where the horse may fall on the rider's body.

It would be quite meaningless to require pregnant women to obtain a certificate stating that she is fit to compete, and few doctors would provide this type of certificate. It is also unlikely that a written disclaimer of responsibility is of any value, as it would be worthless unless full information has been sought, understood and carefully considered by the woman.

Legal aspects:

The Sex Discrimination Act of 1984 means that in most circumstances sporting administrators cannot ban pregnant women competing in sport. However, a sporting body has a duty to alert competitors, and especially pregnant women, of the risks involved in competing in a particular sport. It is up to a woman to make an informed decision, based on legal, medical and any other considerations. The sporting body has a duty of care to ensure that as much as possible foreseeable risks are minimalised, and the sport as safe as reasonably possible. A sporting body only has to do all that is reasonable.

Sport administrators should not give actual medical advice, but have a duty to direct pregnant sportswomen to obtain sufficient and adequate advice, to enable them to make their own decision. It would not be appropriate for a competitor to seek such advice from a clubs doctor (ie the doctor officiating at a competition) due to a possible conflict of interest, and women should be encouraged to get independent advice, and if unsure, to get a second opinion. It should be up to the women to reveal the fact of her pregnancy to a sporting body, and there can be no compulsion.

Insurance aspects:

The EA Personal Accident policy specifically excludes injury that is attributable wholly or partly to childbirth or pregnancy or the complications of these. While this means that trauma totally unrelated to the pregnancy in either cause or effect, is likely to be covered, there is a considerable grey area, into which our pregnant competitors may fall.

Ethical aspects:

It is impossible to eliminate risk to a person, or an unborn child. Parents have the right to determine the shape of their own lives, and it is assumed that they have the interests of their unborn child at heart. It may well be an unacceptable discrimination to ban women from competing on the basis of a medical condition.

In Summary:

  • The sport should not ban pregnant women from riding or competing.
  • The sport should point out to pregnant women or to women contemplating pregnancy, that they should seek out comprehensive advice on the risks and benefits, from appropriate medical sources, and make their own decisions based on these medical as well as legal and insurance issues.
  • The sport should develop guidelines on this issue, and make them publicly available to competitors and members.

The EA thanks Dr Vince Roche for contributing this information.
 


 

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State Branches

Member Associations Equestrian New South Wales Equestrian Victoria Equestrian South Australia Equestrian Queensland Equestrian Western Australia Equestrian Northern Territory Equestrian Tasmania