Equestrian Helmets for Cochlear Implant Recipients

June 19th, 2012 by | Tags: | 7 Comments »

Written by Sara Bushong

I have spent the past eleven plus years riding horses and I never really had a problem with a change in how I rode till about two years ago. In 2010 I got my first implant and never really thought about helmets because I still had my other ear to rely on. I purchased a Troxel Legacy Gold helmet that did not allow me to wear my implant. It was a bit snug on the implanted side.  My trainer and audiologist suggested I use moleskin on the side that rubs on the implant. It worked for a good two years and did not have too many problems throughout the time it was being used.  I still have the helmet today for whenever a cousin or friend of mine wants to ride and needs one.

In January 2012, I was told that I would be getting a second cochlear implant, which meant that I would need to look into buying a helmet that will allow me to wear at least one or both processors. I began the long grueling search of an ATSM/SEI certified equestrian helmet. I think I tried on about 30 different helmets, both equestrian certified and non-certified. I decided to be adventurous and drive to Alpharetta, Georgia to a store called Dover Saddlery. I tried on GPA, Charles Owen and IRH helmets with my current processor and brought my back up sound processor to see what helmet would work with both implants (As I didn’t have an implant at the time, I took the spare sound processor and placed it in a general area and had hair in a tight pony tail to help keep in place). Charles Owen AYR 8 had the best comfort fit for me, and it was lightweight, at least in my opinion.

Pictured here with Bon Chance and the Charles Owen AYR 8

I like the Charles Owen AYR 8 helmet that I currently own and use. The AYR 8 has a nice inner shell “vents” and padding to keep it comfortable and cool. It takes a bit of stress of my shoulders to know that with this helmet I can hear my trainer telling me what to do and be aware of what is happening around me. I have jumped, galloped, trot and sit trot, and the helmet never lets my “ears” slip. It’s truly worth the money I spent. My trainer has noticed how much I have improved since day one all thanks to this helmet. If you wanted to be sure it stays in place while you or your child rides, use the snug fit or mic lock for the cochlear implant system, if you have it. If I am doing a new kind of jump, I have the snug fit just to give it some extra support to stay on my head.


Bon Chance and Sara riding into a turn for jumps

Everyone’s head is different from someone else. It’s important that you go to an equestrian store that sells ATSM/SEI certified helmets. There are different brands and models of ATSM/SEI helmets and the staff at the stores are more than willing to help with finding the right fit. Keep in mind that these equestrian helmets are expensive, but I didn’t really mind the price of AYR 8 because I was back in the “game”. The following are English Tack and Saddlery that I usually buy from:

*If you are confused what the difference is between English and western riding and its ok if you are.  What I tell my mom and others: think of western being the wild west, cowboys and English think of the Europeans being proper and pretty. Not what most would say but it gives you the general idea of what each riding is like.
Sara Bushong, a bilateral cochlear implant recipient, shares her experiences in horseback riding and finding the right helmet to allow her to ride with both processors. She is currently in college seeking a degree in Equine Science.





Gary Kirsch

June 20, 2012 at 4:09 am

Emma wears the IRH ATHSSW helmut and loves it.

Leah Demeter

June 21, 2012 at 7:07 am

This is a cool post… I used to show English hunters and jumpers in the ’90s where there was pretty much only one helmet style to choose from. I had one cochlear implant at the time, so my trick was as I put my helmet on, to pull outward on my implanted side so that it would slide over my implant without it falling off.

I’m thinking of taking up riding again, so I’ll have to look into these helmet recommendations.

Leah Demeter

June 21, 2012 at 7:17 am

PS – I am digging the cow spots pad. I haven’t seen that one before. Equine fashion has come a long way. :) Where did you find such a funny saddle pad?

June 21, 2012 at 10:52 pm

Hi Sara,

We happend to stumble across your blog post! We would love to send you one of our new Venture helmets that features our new padded CinchFit system. If you’re interested please send an email to me at Kdern@troxelhelmets.com.

Ride Safe,
Marketing Manager

June 22, 2012 at 3:21 am

@ Leah I actually do not know where that pad was purchased from. The tack i was using on Bon Chance was school tack. I can always ask my trainer to see where she got it. Its think but I think it has special technology to help keep the horses cool. But I will let you know! Thank you :)


December 2, 2013 at 12:58 am

hi. im andie a nine year old girl. i ride horses everyday and i always would have to wear on ear and i couldnt hear my trainer! now, that i wear your helmet i can wear both!i just want to say thank you!

Sharon Rukavina

May 19, 2014 at 5:33 am

Hi, My daughter Sarah is 13 and is competing in the Australian National Special Olympics.She has a cochlear implant but can’t wear it under her current helmet.Her riding ability is starting to fall behind her team mates as she can’t hear the coaches instructions. Can you advise where I could get a helmet to fit comfortably over her cochlear implant. Thank You