I can't decide which helmet would look best for the upcoming show season. My coats are all black, and my favorite has silver piping around the collar and pockets. I want a somewhat traditional look, but also need good ventilation for the hot afternoon summer shows. These are the three that I've been drawn to, but I'm open to other suggestions. I haven't really paid much attention to helmet fashion lately (I've just been happy to see them being worn). I want to make sure I get something that will look respectable. Which helmet would you purchase and why? Also, how do I know if I'm a regular head shape or a long oval?
Do you have a tack shop around you where you can try some different brands on? There will be one that fits you super, and one that you would not wish on your worst enemy, regardless of whether you like the way they look in pictures or on someone else and a whole bunch in the middle....
I have a giant long oval head. I finally have a helmet that I can put on before I ride and it is not the absolute first thing I rip off when my feet hit the ground. I have tried on a TON of helmets over the years trying to find a decent fit that did not make my head look twice as big as it already is....
I have the IRH Air10, I like how it is low profile and it offers good ventilation for those warm summer shows. I show mostly hunters, so it fits in well with the style, but I wouldn't hesitate to show dressage in it too.
I have the IRH Elite EQ (the first one). I've only worn it for two shows, but no complaints so far. It'll be worn again on Easter weekend when it'll probably be close to 80 degrees. I'm expecting it to be warm, but not stifling like my older velvet Troxel show helmet.
As for head shape, I used a flexible curve. Measure the same way you would for helmet size and just mold the flexible curve around your head, just like you would for wither tracings.
I have the Elite Xtreme, which is very close to your first option. Any of those helmets is perfectly acceptable, fashion-wise. I can't comment on the ventilation of the second two, but have found my Elite Xtreme (same as the Eq, just plastic instead of the ultrasuede) to be very well-ventilated. I could FEEL the wind when riding in it outside last fall. But I'd imagine the other two would also have adequate ventilation.
IRH has a little tutorial on sizing that helped me. Regular v. long oval depends on where you tend to feel pressure when you put a helmet on. If you feel it mostly front and back, you (likely) need a long oval. If (saying this from memory) you feel it on the sides, you likely need a regular size.
I'd definitely recommend my Elite Xtreme, and in fact it is spreading like wildfire through my barn (largely coincidence). It's comfortable, good quality, and attractive when wearing it. I imagine that the Elite Eq has the same bones, and simply a different outer material, so I wouldn't hesitate to recommend that helmet as well.
I don't have anywhere convenient to try helmets on, so I was thinking of ordering through Smartpak so that I can do the free returns if I get one and really detest it. I currently ride in an IRH (older ATH model) and love it, so I think I'd be pretty safe with any of these models. I'd love to hear about any other suggestions that people have, or fashion observations from riders who are more observant than myself.