Helmet Bounty Scheme enhanced to aid concussion management

The British Equestrian Trade Association has teamed up with the British Horseracing Authority to introduce enhancements to the organisation's Helmet Bounty Scheme. The safety initiative – which has been available through the BHA for several years and was successfully rolled out to British Eventing-affiliated events earlier this year – sees jockeys who are concussed during a race provided with a retail voucher that can be redeemed towards the cost of replacing their damaged hat.

“The Helmet Bounty Scheme is effectively a hat amnesty and has been designed to highlight the importance of replacing a hat when it has been involved in an incident,” said BETA executive director Claire Williams. “Taking a fall is something of an occupational hazard in racing, so we hope that the scheme will really help to get the message across.”

The Helmet Bounty Scheme caters for jockeys who have been diagnosed with concussion by the course medical officer during a BHA or Point-to-Point Authority race. If their helmet is returned to BETA, jockeys will receive a voucher worth £80 that can be put towards the cost of a replacement skull helmet when bought from a participating BETA retailer.

The partnership, which replaces the previous system where a cash payment was offered rather than a helmet voucher, allows the scheme to be offered more widely, with helmet collection on the day of injury at the racecourse. It also ensures that any new helmet purchased will be fitted by a BETA-trained retailer. 

British Horseracing Authority chief medical adviser Dr Jerry Hill added: ““British Racing is determined to remain at the forefront of concussion management. To illustrate this, our pioneering concussion assessment and return-to-riding protocols were recently enhanced and we have stated our commitment to a programme of concussion education for our participants.

“The Helmet Bounty Scheme is an important initiative not only because it ensures that damaged helmets are removed from circulation and replaced by fully functioning models, but also because it helps us gather more data on the nature of falls, head injuries and helmet damage, thereby hopefully informing helmet design in the future.”

The Helmet Bounty Scheme is being rolled out across the country for the winter racing season. All hats collected by the trade association will be used to conduct further research into improving riding hat standards.