If you’ve spent any time around horses, you know your safest option is to wear a helmet when riding. The helmet helps protect your head (and brain inside it). If you’re looking to stay as safe as possible, you may find yourself wondering when you should buy a new riding helmet

You should buy a new riding helmet every five years from the first wear, or if it undergoes any sort of impact. If it becomes too loose or tight, you’ll also need to buy a new riding helmet to ensure it fits your head correctly. 

Since you’ll need to replace a damaged helmet, it’s important to understand how to tell if your helmet is damaged, even if damage isn’t visible. 

How Do I Tell If My Riding Helmet Is Damaged? 

There are a few ways to tell if you need to replace your riding helmet. Sometimes the damage is easy to find, other times it may only exist in the internal structure. 

Cracks or Dents 

If your riding helmet is dented or has any cracks in it, you’re going to need to purchase a replacement. Even if a crack seems small, it’s a sign that there’s damage on the inside and you may not be able to see all of it. 

When in doubt, it’s best to find a new helmet! Better safe than sorry. I remember having to replace a helmet during my teenage years because my horse stepped on it. The hoof put a small crack in it, but there was almost certainly additional damage from getting stepped on by a half ton animal. 


You need to replace your helmet every five years. Under the hard plastic outer layer of your helmet, there’s a foam layer that helps cushion your head and protect it from impact. This foam layer, however, can deteriorate over time. So even if your five year old helmet still looks okay, you still need to replace it since you can’t see the inside. 

Structural Damage from Impact

You should replace your helmet after every fall or accident where the helmet suffers from an impact. An example could be hitting the ground, or falling off your horse and hitting your head on a jump or fence.

Extreme Temperatures 

There are a few other things that can impact your helmet too. These include extreme heat, extreme cold, and exposure to chemicals

Have you ever left your helmet out in the sun, or left it in a car overnight in freezing temperatures? Even if you’ve ridden on hot days or cold days, these temperatures can slowly wear down the lining over time. This is why it’s so important to replace your helmet every five years, even if you can’t see any damage with the naked eye. 

What to Do With Your Old Riding Helmet After Buying a New One

So you’ve replaced your old helmet after five years or any impact. What do you do with your previous riding helmet? 

Unfortunately, most of the time you’ll have to throw out your helmet in the trash. It’s too risky to donate something in poor repair. Sometimes local municipalities offer helmet recycling programs, so try calling around to see if you can do something to keep your helmet out of the landfill.