Photo by Gianni EquiMedia

By Nina M. Shaffer

Charles Owen Wellington Professional Helmet**


This is the most important piece of equipment. When parents complain that a helmet costs $250+ my response is, “How much is your child’s head worth?” Ice hockey & Football players are constantly getting new helmets, and Equestrians should be doing the same. I replace my helmet every six months REGARDLESS of falls. Additionally, the helmet must FIT your head. (Keep in mind that the inside foam stretches with use.) Two fingers should be able to go snugly under the chin strap and when you bend forward the helmet should not move down and cover your eyebrows, it should sit tightly just above them.  It’s great if you are wearing a helmet, but if it is not fastened correctly it is not going to serve its actual purpose. Helmets should be replaced immediately if a fall occurs, and often the manufacturer will replace them within two years of their production date. In year three or four of a fall, a discounted rate will generally replace the same helmet model.  The life expectancy of a good helmet is four years, after which they should be replaced whether or not a fall has occurred. My preferred brand is Charles Owen, I wear the Wellington Pro model as it fits my head shape the best. Safety of myself and my students is my number one priority.

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Heavyweight Hair Nets


This piece of equipment goes hand in hand with the helmet component. If you are trying on a helmet to purchase and will be wearing a hairnet underneath it, then you should make sure to have a hairnet on while you are trying on helmets. It is very important to keep in mind that your hair can change the fit of your helmet. If you like to wear your hair down when schooling at home, then I recommend having one helmet for schooling and one for showing. (STYLE NOTE: Messy hair is a no fly zone in my world! Braids should be re-braided if you start seeing flyaway hairs. Men, you don’t know just how lucky you are!) My preferred hairnet brand is the Aerborn heavyweight hairnets. For thicker hair I use two.

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Roeckl® Chester Riding Gloves


Gloves are great for anyone from beginner to professional. They help keep fingers from slipping through the reins and being subject to blisters. My preferred brand is Roeckl Equestrian. They are high quality and comfortable to wear for extended periods of time.

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Cavallo Couture – De Niro Boot Collection


Your boots should be clean and polished for both lessons and shows. My preferred tall boot brand is Cavallo Couture Company designed DeNiro boots with caprice leather. For schooling I love my Ariat Paddock boots paired with my Custom Leather Designs half chaps hand crafted locally in Pennsylvania by Pat Young.

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If your riding breeches have belt loops, a belt should always be worn. I love something traditional that matches my boots and crop. My show belt is handmade by the Amish In Lancaster, PA, but I love to wear my C4 Belts Equestrian custom Welsh Wear belt when schooling at home.

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A well fitted shirt is a must! I try to avoid very large graphic print on the front of shirts. Absolutely no tank tops or any other spaghetti strap type shirts should be worn when riding. Keep those girls under cover, no matter how endowed you may be! In winter, fitted sweatshirts without hoods are great. I like riding in a vest so that my arms are not restricted by a bulky coat.  Too much clothing prevents me from being able to view & correct my students position. You will catch me in my Welsh Wear tees daily. Thank you Welsh Wear for your continued sponsorship!

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