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How to Measure Your Head for a Helmet

Before you begin, you'll need a soft fabric measuring tape. Some manufacturers use head circumference in centimeters for their helmet sizing, some use inches or hat sizes and some use universal helmet sizing in extra small, small, medium and large. Additionally, helmet sizes vary between manufacturers.

  • Place the tape measure snugly around your head at the widest point, about one inch above your eyebrows. Make sure the tape goes over the bump at the back of your head and that it is just above the top of your ears.

  • Compare your head measurement to the manufacturer's helmet sizing chart provided for the brand of helmet you would like. You can choose from a wide variety of helmets, from fun-colored schooling helmets to stylish show helmets. If you plan on competing, your trainer can provide guidance in choosing the look of your helmet most appropriate for your riding discipline.

  • Place the helmet level on your head. Be sure to try on helmets with your hair in the same style in which you ride. If you have long or thick hair that you wear under your helmet, you may need to increase your helmet size slightly.

    Note: Attempt to make your hair as flat to your head as possible when wearing your helmet; many people prefer to use two hair nets to obtain a sufficiently flat, snug fit. The first hair net is tied into the ponytail, and the second hair net holds the ponytail flat to the head. For illustrated how-to details, see the topic Hairstyling Tips for Equestrians.

  • Check the helmet shape. Some helmets suit round heads and some suit oval heads; you may have to experiment with different brands to find the most suitable helmet. There are various ways to determine whether a helmet is the wrong shape for your head, but here are some examples.

    If the helmet squeezes your forehead but rocks easily sideways, it is too round for your head. If the helmet fits the sides comfortably but rocks front to back, it is too oval for your head.
  • Oval shaped head
    Round shaped head

  • Check the overall fit. A correctly sized helmet sits down snugly on your head and covers your entire skull with equal pressure all around. No gap exists between your helmet and your head; even pressure with the lining allows the helmet to absorb force in an accident.

    If you feel the helmet wants to rise or pop upward from your head, then it is too small. If the helmet is loose all around your head and sitting low on the eyebrows, it is too large.

  • Helmet too small, popping up
    Helmet sitting too low, too big

    Try to wiggle the helmet up and down. The skin on your forehead and your eyebrows should move with the helmet. If the helmet slides freely and your skin doesn't move, then it is too large for your head. Shake your head from side to side and up and down. The helmet should not pivot on your head. If it does, then the helmet is too large.

    While a slightly large helmet may feel very comfortable initially, if you select one that does not fit snugly when it is new, it will become too large over time as the lining breaks in. A large helmet will shift during riding, could become a distraction and will not protect you well during a fall.

    If you are trying on an adjustable helmet and the fit is very close to being correct, you may tighten it through the use of slides, dials, changeable padding or ties, and repeat these tests. Otherwise, try another size, style or brand of helmet.

  • Check the brim.
    The front brim should not sit more than two fingers' width above your eyebrows. It should not sit any lower than 1/2" above your eyebrows or it could block your vision. If the brim does not sit correctly, try a different helmet that is either deeper or shallower.

  • Adjust the chin strap.
    When you're sure the helmet stays in place without the harness, adjust the chin strap so that it fits snugly under your chin. It should be able to hold the helmet in place, but not be so tight as to cause discomfort against your throat or make you feel as though you can't swallow or might choke. Some helmets have sliding clips that allow you to adjust the harness for comfort around the ears.

  • When you find your perfect helmet, you'll discover an added benefit— it will flatter the shape of your face.

    A well-fitting helmet

      Note: Head trauma is the leading cause of fatal horseback riding accidents; it is imperative that your helmet fits properly. Our helmet fitting instructions are simply guidelines. Same-sized helmet models within a product line, and same-sized helmets from differing manufacturers, may fit you differently depending on the shape of your head and the shape of the interior of the helmet.

      Dover Saddlery highly recommends that you adhere to the guidelines provided in the topic, Helmet Storage and Care. Additionally, if your well-fitting helmet becomes loose over time for any reason, it should be replaced with a helmet that fits properly.

      Tip: Save your sales receipt and any product and warranty information that accompanies your new helmet. Some helmet manufacturers provide a cost reduction for crash helmet replacements based on the age of the helmet at the time of the incident. Having your original documentation on hand can streamline the process of replacing a crash helmet.

      For more assistance or to request a catalog, call 1-800-406-8204 to speak with a Dover Saddlery product advisor, or stop by any of our retail stores. Visit for a complete store listing and the full product offering.