Helmet Use Clarification
Effective October 1, 2009, youth under 16 riding horses on public land (roads, parks, schools, public trails, etc.) are required to wear a helmet according to the state law. It is suggested that everyone read the original bill and be sure to understand its inclusions and exceptions.
You will notice that "shows" are excluded from the requirements in the bill. However, the Florida 4-H Horse Program will continue to require helmets at Area and State Horse Shows just as it has for many years now. And similarly, Counties and local riding organizations may continue with their existing helmet policies, as long as their events fall into the "exceptions" of the law. Of course, if an event fits into what might be included in the State law (maybe fun rides, clinics, trail rides, etc.), then the law dictates that youth should wear helmets. It seems that the biggest effect of the new law is at the family level - the day in and day out riding along roads and/or trails on public land.
As you address helmet use in the County, keep in mind that just because the State law does not require a helmet be worn in a given situation, it does not preclude 4-H or any other organization from continuing to set safety policies which are more strict than what is addressed in the State law.
The Florida 4-H Horse Program's helmet rule for the Area and State 4-H Horse Shows:
All exhibitors are required to wear an SEI or SEI/ASTM approved safety equestrian helmet with fastened chin harness in all classes and all warm-up and make-up areas. Additionally, appropriate footwear and approved helmets must be worn, with harness fastened, at all times when mounted. This pertains to the entire show grounds from the time of arrival until departure. Failure to comply may result in disqualification. (SEI - Safety Equipment Institute, ASTM - American Society of Testing and Measures)
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