According to the Equine Science Center at Rutgers University (https://esc.rutgers.edu/), riding is considered one of the most dangerous sports in the United States because injuries are more likely to be severe and require hospitalization than injuries resulting from other sports, and traumatic brain injuries (TBI) are one of the most common injuries reported among those injured while riding. These injuries can be significantly reduced though, with things like a well-fitting helmet (to reduce the chances of a head injury), or a safety vest (such as a foam safety vest which is designed to protect the torso during a fall).
“Most helmets are recommended to be replaced after 5 years, but other circumstances such as where they are stored, if they have been stored in a temperature safe environment, and even sun exposure can affect the life and effectiveness of a helmet,” said Rutgers University Ph.D. Candidate, Ellen Rankins. “Some of the most important things to remember with helmets though is that each helmet is different, so make sure to find and use the manufacturer’s recommended lifespan for a helmet; and the most important thing is that once a helmet is used to help cushion a fall, the helmet is no longer safe to use no matter how small the fall was.”
Additional protective equipment such as safety vests should also be checked frequently, as each item has its own set of storage, maintenance, and lifespan recommendations. Air vests, which if being used should be worn over a traditional safety vest, also have their own set of recommendations that should be followed.
Even if a helmet or vest has never sustained a significant impact, the time limits remain in place due to deterioration over time. Experts encourage equestrians to check your tack room and make sure all safety equipment is up to date.
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About the Equine Science Center at Rutgers University
The Equine Science Center is a unit of the New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. Its mission is “Better Horse Care through Research and Education” in order to advance the well-being and performance of horses and the equine industry. Its vision is to be recognized throughout New Jersey as well as nationally and internationally for its achievements in identifying issues in the horse industry, finding solutions through science-based inquiry, providing answers to the horse industry and to horse owners, and influencing public policy to ensure the viability of the horse industry.
For more information about the Equine Science Center, call 848-932-9419 or visit esc.rutgers.edu.