Nine polo helmet models were tested and evaluated using the ENHAP test and assessment protocols.
In terms of impact management performance there were two distinct groups of helmets: those that employ a modern helmet design with an appropriate energy absorption layer, and those that do not. Those that have a modern design were all certified to one or more of the equestrian helmet standards. Somewhat unsurprisingly, the impact test results differed vastly between the two groups, with the first performing relatively well and the second performing very poorly. The same four helmets that performed well in the impact tests also did so in the crush tests.
With regards to the retention effectiveness tests, the helmets could again be split into two contrasting groups: those helmets with a 3-point harness and those with the traditional single-strap. The 3-point harness hats consistently outperformed their single strap counterparts, particularly in the rear pull-off.
It is the author’s opinion that the polo helmets currently being worn by players in the UK vary significantly in their performance and may not provide the optimal level of protection to their wearers. Those that make use of modern helmet design do well. Those helmets that have alternative construction do not perform well as safety helmets and would provide very limited protection the rider’s head during an impact event. Obviously there are limits to a helmet’s protective capabilities and no helmet can protect against all accidents, but these ENHAP results show that there are some which will perform better than others.
The ENHAP performance of polo helmets has been compared to previous ENHAP studies. The performance of the polo helmets tested was one of the worst observed to date, particularly for impact protection performance.
Helmet performance was inconsistent between the limited range of sizes tested with the same helmet model. Optimal protection can only be afforded by a well fitted helmet and consistency across all sizes would be desirable to prevent any compromise between good helmet fit and star rating at the point of sale.

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