WEF – Helmet Survey

WEF – Helmet Survey

A few years ago, the helmet scene at WEF was pretty standard.  A survey would have been useless because the answer would have pretty much been “GPA” across all three rings.

This year?  Not so much!


There are more competitors on the market (I call it the Euro invasion) and the styles do seem to vary more from ring to ring than I have noticed in years past.  Of course, these are all just my observations from my few days spent at the show.  The pie charts I’m about to show you are not at all scientific, but were taken from me counting the types of helmets I saw in the 600+ photos I took at WEF during week 10.

But there are pie charts, and pie charts are awesome.  So, you’re welcome.


The hunter ring isn’t a huge surprise.  A bit more traditional means a large number of Charles Owens in the mix.  Did I see GPAs?  Sure.  Did I see any really flash euro style helmets?  Not really.  Also you have to remember that I definitely didn’t see every hunter class of the week, so this sampling could be a bit off.


The big eq ring was even more conservative than hunters, but again this could have just been a strange sample because a lot of the girls had on white since they were coming from or going to the jumper ring.  Do they switch helmets for eq as opposed to jumpers?  Maybe!  This was definitely the ring where I saw the fewest GPAs of the whole show.


Speaking of GPAs, the only models I noticed were Speed Airs and First Ladies.  Didn’t see a single skunk stripe during my entire visit.


As you would imagine, there was definitely a lot more variety in the jumper ring.  It seems like Charles Owens and Samshields still rule the day though. I think part of the reason that GPA’s are dwindling in numbers is that the fancy euro type brands (One K, KEP) are taking part of their market share.  This is purely speculation though.


One thing I was truly disappointed in, is that I couldn’t identify an IRH helmet the entire time I was there.  I know they got their reputation as the “knock off” helmet brand, but I’ve been an IRH wearer for years and genuinely like them.  They’re well made, at a great price point and protect my head!


The Grand Prix class/International ring is where I saw the most variety.  I attribute that to sponsors!  While I’m sure not every Grand Prix rider is sponsored, many are.


Finally overall based off of what I saw and documented.  Moral of the story in my opinion?  Buy a helmet that fits your head, you can afford and one that you like!

I’m probably going for a Charles Owen the next time I make a helmet purchase, but who knows!  What’s your favorite helmet out of these charts?

30 thoughts on “WEF – Helmet Survey

  1. Who doesn’t love a beautiful pie chart?? Haha, cool info! I’m also a die hard IRH customer, they are to this day the only helmet that fits my head the right way. I’ve tried on GPAs, Charles Owens, and Samshields and none of them fit quite right, yet the IRH always does. And seeing as they seem to be much lower on the pricing spectrum, I’m not complaining one bit 🙂

    1. I’ve always had the same experience, yet my current IRH is not a great fit. They were the first helmet brand I switched to when I officially retired my old velvet International helmet and I do like them as a brand.

  2. I do have a Charles Owens for my show helmet but overall I don’t really have a favorite helmet. The CO happened to fit right at the time I was buying but if I were to buy again I’d probably try on a bunch more helmets before I decided.

  3. I had a Charles Owen for years, and then when I went to update I found that the newer models just didn’t fit me well- so IRH it is for me! Love the pie charts by the way- kudos to you for actually paying attention to helmets with so many pretty ponies around! I would have been SO distracted! 😉

  4. I have a Charles Owen, it’s an extremely nice helmet but I don’t think the fit is 100% right for me since my head is a bit rounder. Never tried any other brands listed above, but that being said I’m a helmet junkie.

    I have 4 different helmets. I didn’t set out to do that but I ended up there. I have the Charles Owen JR8 (for hunters), a Tipperary Sportage (eventing), Tipperary T Series (jumpers/eventing) and last but not least a Troxel Sierra for trail riding. Does it make sense? Probably not but oh well, variety is the spice of life right?!

  5. I love the GPA first ladies but will never be able to afford one. Not sure what my next helmet will be, hoping to get one at Rolex!

  6. I had a CO AYR8 for a couple years but it was noticeably hotter than my current Speed Air. I guess most people don’t have the same SODAMNHOT problems that we have, though. I still think the Ovation Schooler is the best cheap cool/light/flattering helmet on the market, hands down. Not very pretty for showing though. When I had an AYR8 I always defaulted to the Schooler for every day use because it was so much more pleasant to wear. Since I’ve gotten the Speed Air the Ovation has sat idle in my trunk.

  7. I discovered an interesting new helmet via the internet this year and purchased a Kavalkade. I don’t do any A showing, but I really lucked out with it. It’s attractive, way affordable, and INCREDIBLY comfortable. My friend rides in a Charles Owen and she prefers mine over her own. It’s a bit difficult to find one anywhere, though!

  8. When I last bought my helmet it was GPA or IRH for my part of the universe, and I loved the fit of the IRH (and still do), however, now that it’s retiring I’m going to try on some Charles Owens and Samshields before I buy anything. Love the pie charts!

  9. Another one for Team IRH! The others just don’t fit my head. I guess I will continue to be Very Not Trendy, lol!

  10. My trainer has input as to what we are allowed to wear. She does not allow the IRH helmets at rated shows. I had one once and hated it. I then bought a CO and hated it. The One K didn’t fit my head and neither did the Samshield so I went with GPA and love it! I wish I had gotten a First Lady now but oh well. I bought a visor and it works just as well for schooling.

  11. Thanks for the pie charts! I was just in the market for a new helmet since I am starting to show again (rather than just taking my students). I had an IRH (which I now school in) and bought a CO to keep up with the Jones’. The only “big time” show person I know that wears the IRH anymore is Liza Boyd and I am sure it is because they are sponsoring her. I am a pretty easy fit and like both helmets, but I do miss my adjustable ratchet-y thing from my IRH. BTW – what is the deal with the feet/stirrups of both of the men in your photos? Eek!

  12. I have the 1 in a million head shape that absolutely does NOT fit CO. At all. And my hunter trainer is super traditional, so I ended up with the Samshield (no Speed Airs for me!). But honestly, I love it and I would encourage anyone to try them on to see if they fit!

  13. Another helmet I noticed several people in the jumper rings wearing is the Antares helmet, which is a bit flashy for my taste. I have a CO Ayr8. It’s really comfortable and attractive. I do like the looks of the Samshields, but haven’t tried one on. GPA’s don’t fit my head.

  14. I love my Charles Owen AYR8 but I haven’t tried the Samshield or OneK helmets. Maybe I’ll get to at Rolex. I’ll be in the market for a new helmet here soon.

    I honestly have never felt like the IRH and similar helmets were substantial (purely feeling and opinion). I have never read studies and I’m sure I’m being crazy but while I want a helmet to be breathable I don’t want it to feel flimsy.

  15. I have a CO JR8 and I love it! When I first got it, it seemed too small for my head but the more I wore it the more it broke in and feels like a custom fit. The fabric does get dirty easy but when cleaned looks brand new.

  16. I school in an Ovation (carbon fiber sync) which I LOVE, and show in the Ovation show helmet. I think dressage must attract a different crowd because I see a huge variety of helmets at shows. When I was still endurance racing, everyone wore the cheap Troxels with a few Tipperary helmets thrown in. Although, I suspect that in the last couple of years that trend has changed as the manufacturers are making a larger variety of the “sturdier” models; endurance helmets take a beating (trees, branches, DIRT, etc.)

  17. I sooooo need a new helmet. I have an IRH because it was a good deal, but its a big mushroom topper for my already big head. It also wiggles when I jump. Not fun. I am kinda warming to the Samshields but I need to try some on to really see what fits best.

  18. Ovation is another brand doing some really nice looking knock offs at a fraction of the cost. My current helmet looks a lot like a One K, but only cost me $50.

  19. Put me on the list of IRH owners. My IRH ATH SSV is one of the most comfortable helmets I’ve ever worn. That said my next schooling helmet is going to be an Ovation. One of the girls at the barn has one and I was shocked at how light and comfy it was. I’ve had this terrible habit of buying Troxels to school in and they’ve just never fit my head right.

  20. I have a Charles Owen skullcap and an IRH. When I busted my head and had the horrible concussion, it was an IRH that saved my brains from even worse damage (like, you know, death) – I sent a letter to IRH thanking them, and they sent me a brand new helmet free of charge! I still have it today. It sadly never quite fit me like my old one did – they had updated the style a bit and it was larger and more mushroom-y than my old very low profile one – but I still have it and use it today. Thanks IRH!

  21. I am super impressed that you can recognize helmet brands on somebody else’s head — my eye is nowhere near that good!

    I just bought the Tipperary T2. Not the right look for your sport, but I looooooove it.

  22. I honestly like the look and feel of my IRH more than my GPA… and at 1/4 of the price! And Charles Owens? They look so stupid on me… so, no thanks. Guess I’m not cut out to be a hunter :)P Interesting pie charts though!

    And the “Wiz is working on his bucking list” cracked me up!!!

  23. I have an old IRH (cue in skunk helmet style) that fits great but have found that the new ones don’t quite work. The Elite Eq was ok but the One K’s seem to fit me better (cue in near future purchase music) so I will def go with what fits my head!

    As a person who stares at helmets all day at work (and other deliciously wonderful horsey things!) I think the skunk helmets have gone out of style- I’m not even sure if GPA makes them anymore! The Speed Air and First Lady are definitely the hot item- First Ladies so HOT that the new shipment hasn’t arrived to stores yet! Just a lot of orders waiting for the product…. can’t tell you how many people have called looking for a First Lady and just seem to be annoyed when we tell them NO ONE has them- yet!

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