New York’s Helmet Law:
As the activity around the barn increases this Summer, it is more important than ever to remember that New York State law requires that “no person less than eighteen years of age shall ride a horse unless such person is wearing a helmet meeting or exceeding ASTM F1163 (Safety Equipment Institute certified).” Put more simply: anyone under the age of 18 must be wearing a helmet at all times when horseback riding. If a minor is not wearing a helmet, a $250 fine can be imposed. The fine will not be levied against the minor, but rather, on the parent or legal guardian of the minor.
The change in the law (from age 14 to age 18) was prompted by statistics. Head injuries account for approximately 60% of deaths resulting from equestrian accidents. Horseback riding is the eighth leading cause of emergency room treated, sports and recreation related injuries. Approximately 70,000 people are treated in emergency rooms annually, while thousands more are treated in physicians' offices. Horseback riding has been identified as a higher-risk activity than automobile racing, motorcycle riding, football and skiing. Injuries occur at all ages and experience levels.
In short, failure to comply with the helmet law will result in a hefty fine and a possible court appearance. No matter the rider’s age, wearing a helmet is the smart and safe thing to do when riding a horse.