Alex Grayton wearing a Back on Track helmet. Photo Credit/Back on Track

Price no guarantee for safety with horse riding helmets: new report

A Swedish insurance report reveals that many brands of equestrian helmets do not protect riders as well as they could.

The dangers of repeated head injuries and concussions in professional sports like hockey and football has prompted a mainstream discussion, a scientific obsession and blockbuster films, but they are still widely misunderstood.

Concussion, a movie about Dr. Bennet Omalu, played by Will Smith, showcased the doctor’s discovery of the detrimental long-term health impacts of brain injury on NFL players.

From the deaths of Mike Webster and Derek Boogaard to bull rider Ty Pozzobon, the mental health implications have been made clear and yet those outside of these mainstream sports may not be aware of the danger.

A recent study is hoping to bring some new awareness to the potential danger in the world of equestrian sports.

Related: Educational videos for rodeo athletes address concussions, mental health

Related: Bull rider Ty Pozzobon’s donated brain reveals chronic traumatic brain disease

Related: Emergency crews rescue teen thrown from horse

The study, produced by Swedish insurance company Folksam, looked into the safety and effectiveness of a range of well-known and certified riding helmets.

Folksam tested 15 helmets on the Swedish market, all previously tested and approved to the CE standard, which means the energy absorption of the helmets was tested with a perpendicular impact to the helmet.

“This does not fully reflect the scenario in an equestrian accident,” Folksam wrote in its findings.

“In a fall from the horse or horse kick, the impact to the head will be oblique. The intention was to simulate this in the tests since it is known that angular acceleration is the dominating cause of brain injuries.”

Photo by Folksam

Its independent study showed only three of the helmets tested offered protection from side impact falls – known as oblique impact, which best simulates actual riding and handling accidents.

The test determined three helmets earned Folksam’s Best Award in Best Choice or Good Choice. The Back on Track EQ3 Lynx, Back on Track EQ3 and Charles Owen Ayr8 Leather Look.

The highest grade helmet – the grade 5 Lynx – met the legal requirements and performed 30 per cent better than the average helmet.

The other two received a grade 4, which meant the helmet met the legal requirements, was better than average and provides good protection.

It found the two helmets with MIPS technology provided “extra good” protection as they counteract the rotation violence – something researchers say the brain is sensitive to.

The study found many of the certified helmets did not meet the standard required to protect the brain on impact and yet those helmets are widely sold and sought after in the equestrian world.

The top helmets contained MIPS Brain Protection System (BPS) technology, a helmet technology that is only sold in riding helmet form by Back on Track Canada.

Back on Track Canada advisor Tim McLeod said the company was already pushing for head injuries to become a point of discussion in Canada’s equestrian community when the report was released last week.

He is passionate about the topic after he almost lost his life in an equestrian incident as a teenager. His daughter was also forced to leave the sport after multiple injuries.

“It was a serious incident, I never rode a horse again. Horseback riding can be very unsafe if people don’t take care to ride wisely and safely,” explained McLeod.

“I promptly forgot about it until Back on Track Canada was asked by ownership to carry a new technology, horseback riding helmets.”

He said that prompted the company to investigate helmets in Canada and he said they were shocked by what they uncovered.

“We looked at statistics and studies from around the world and when we looked into certifying the helmet in Canada, we discovered that there is no testing for this new technology,” explained McLeod.

This particular helmet with MIPS has an inner helmet that swivels, similar to how the brain does within your skull. An invention designed to dissipate the energy of the impact, lessening potential injury to the brain.

Photo by Folksam

“This invention is in 5.4 million helmets in the world, but not in riding helmets,” said McLeod. “We were the first company to sell it. It shocked us why the horseback riding world is ignoring this technology.”

The company started talking to its partners like Equestrian Canada, Spruce Meadows, pro rodeo and others about working together to protect brains better.

He said the Swedish study has quickly made waves in the Canadian equestrian market place as the results are “staggering”.

“In terms of safety, some of the most expensive helmets on the market didn’t even make the register of safety. They came in below average,” said McLeod.

“People are paying $800-$900 for helmets and this study showed in safety tests they don’t function very well. Yet, you’re putting all your faith into that.”

He said the helmets were all ADSM approved and yet were not tested for rotational impact, something that can happen when you fall off a horse.

“They look at up and down forces, but nothing rotational,” said McLeod.

Related: Okanagan-built concussion app takes off

Related: Ex-athlete living in concussion’s wake

Related: Court to consider fraud investigator in NFL concussion case

He said his company is in conversation with stakeholders across Canada to open a symposium on brain safety in the equestrian world.

‘We’ve committed, as a company, to provide the resources to get this conversation going,” said McLeod.

“This study exposes the cracks in Canadian’s lack of understanding about our head health in the horse world, and how to deal with it. How to bring research into the picture.”

To read the full report click here and or here to see how the riding helmets compare.

To report a typo, email:
newstips@kelownacapnews.com
.


@carmenweld
carmen.weld@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

No Stuart Park fire-pit in Kelowna this winter

City says in bid to reduce natural gas use, it won’t light fire pit at popular outdoor ice rink

Differences between the California and Okanagan fires taken seriously

Chief Travis Whiting and Kelowna Fire Department learn from the devasting U.S. fires

Glenrosa Elementary PAC fundraiser nets $10,000

Half the $20,000 allegedly stolen from school funds is replaced

Physio treatment user fees dropped for auto accident injuries

ICBC negotiates new contract with B.C. Physiotherapy Association

Beat the Mondays: Trapped in Bali? Lessons learned from an erupting volcano

Gina Petrovich is a travel writer for the Kelowna Capital News

1st Indigenous woman to start Canadian airline looks to B.C.’s remote regions

Teara Fraser is the first Indigenous woman in Canada to start her own airline, called Iskwew Air

Vehicle crashes over embankment in Penticton

Emergency responders are on scene after a vehicle went over an embankment along Carmi Avenue.

Bankruptcies in British Columbia on the rise

Consumer bankruptcies climbed by 6. 1 per cent in August 2018 from the same month last year.

22 public toilets in Victoria: 136 people currently peeing

World Toilet Day floats some serious health issues

Calgary Stampeders back to Grey Cup with 22-14 win over Winnipeg Blue Bombers

Calgary was favoured to win the 2017 and 2016 Grey Cups, but lost to the Toronto Argonauts and Ottawa Redblacks respectively.

‘A giant step forward’: new $10 bill featuring Viola Desmond to enter circulation

A new $10 banknote featuring Viola Desmond’s portrait will go into circulation, just over 72 years after she was ousted from the whites-only section of a movie theatre in New Glasgow, N.S.

Searchers in California wildfire step up efforts; 77 dead

Trump arrived at the oceanside conclave Saturday afternoon after visiting Northern California to survey the wildfire damage in the town of Paradise.

Trump says ‘no reason’ for him to hear Khashoggi death tape

“It’s a suffering tape, it’s a terrible tape. I’ve been fully briefed on it, there’s no reason for me to hear it,” Trump said in the interview.

Canada Post calls for ‘cooling off’ period to allow for mediated talks

The proposal came as Canada Post workers continued their rotating strikes Monday after rejecting the Crown agency’s latest offer.

Most Read