Nationwide, some laws exist mandating the use of equestrian safety helmets. New York and Florida have helmet statutes on the books. A small number of municipal governments in Florida, California, and Washington have enacted helmet ordinances.
New York Law
New York’s helmet law took effect in 2000. It requires riders under age 14 to wear approved helmets when riding a horse on highways and/or private roads. New York’s law requires those who hire, rent out horses for riding, or provide training in the riding of horses for consideration to provide helmets at no extra charge to “beginning riders” of any age and riders less than 14 years of age. The law also requires “horse providers” to offer ASTM/SEI standard equestrian helmets to all riders along with “appropriate helmet safety information.”
Florida passed its state-wide equestrian helmet law in 2009. It provides, among other things, that a child under age 16 must wear an ASTM-standard equestrian helmet while riding an equine on a public roadway or right-of-way, public equestrian trail, park, or school site, or public property. Trainers or instructors cannot "knowingly" rent or lease an equine to a child under 16 in violation of this law, and parents or guardians cannot knowingly allow a child to violate the law. Some exceptions exist that make the law inapplicable in certain settings.
Before this law took effect, a few Florida municipalities passed helmet ordinances, including Wellington, Plantation, Davie, and Parkland. All provided, in various ways, that minors must wear ASTM-standard equestrian helmets when riding in public areas. Parkland’s ordinance applied to riders under age 18, while the other Florida ordinances applied to riders under age 16.
Bainbridge Island, Washington, passed a helmet ordinance requiring that people who ride a horse in a public area shall wear a helmet unless the rider has an appropriate note from a Washington-licensed doctor excusing the use of a helmet.
Norco, California passed a helmet ordinance in 2008. It states that those under age 18 who ride horses in public areas must wear properly fitted and secured helmets that are ASTM-standard (or any other nationally recognized helmet standard). The helmet must be worn regardless of whether the rider is controlling the horse.
About the Author
Julie Fershtman is one of the nation’s most experienced Equine Law practitioners. She is a Shareholder with the firm Foster Swift Collins & Smith, PC, and has successfully tried equine cases before juries in 4 states. She has also drafted hundreds of equine industry contracts and is a Fellow of the American College of Equine Attorneys. She has spoken on Equine Law in 27 states, including the nation’s largest equine conventions. For more information,visitwww.fershtmanlaw.com, www.equinelaw.net, or www.fosterswift.com.
Julie Fershtman is the author of two leading Equine Law books, MORE Equine Law & Horse Sense and Equine Law & Horse Sense. These books help people avoid disputes. Order both for $42.90, first class shipping included. To order, call Horses & The Law Publishing at 866-5-EQUINE. Or, send check or money order to Horses & The Law Publishing, P.O. Box 250696, Franklin, MI 48025-0696.
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