By Lauren R. Giannini
When it comes to equestrian activities, you can’t live without safety headwear. A helmetless fall from an equine, even at the walk, can result in traumatic brain injury (TBI) and, possibly, death. Variables such as jumps, speed and the flight instinct of startled steeds greatly increase the risk factor. You and your noggin deserve special protection. You want a helmet that fits well and comfortably, and doesn’t leave ugly marks on your forehead or cause your scalp to drown in sweat.
Enter Samshield — where they take your safety very personally. You want bling? Samshield’s Swarovski crystals and a stylish variety of options top off the latest advances in technological design that result in the creation of a protective helmet that fits comfortably and flatters the wearer.
“I really like Samshield helmets — that’s why I started wearing them even before they sponsored me,” said Georgina Bloomberg, who has combined Grand Prix show jumping with motherhood since the birth of her son. She has three Samshield helmets; two are customized, one isn’t. Her black Shadowmatt helmet with red striping reflects her barn colors and personal favorite color. She also has the Shimmer in black.
“I genuinely feel that Samshield helmets are very safe and good protection for my head,” continued Georgina. “I’ve had enough head injuries in my career, and I want my head protected, but I also want to look good in my helmet. They’re very comfortable. Samshield helmets are the perfect combination of all that you could possibly want — a really good fit in every way that counts.”
Samshield headwear is the brainchild of former motocross and supercross professional, Phillippe “Sam” Maloigne, who competed in extreme motorcycle racing from 1980–1990. When Sam began riding in jumping competitions in 2003, he wasn’t at all impressed by the technical failures he discovered in the premium protective headwear available at that time to equestrians. Helmets had been an essential part of his gear during his motorcycle racing years, but a huge gulf existed between the two types of “riding” headwear.
Sam soon discovered that other riders weren’t happy with their helmets either. He wanted to create a helmet that could satisfy his own exacting standards for comfort, quality materials, active and passive protection, stability and esthetics. He achieved his goal with the help of budding designer Olivier Taco (Iguaneye shoes) and input from rising jumper stars Nicolas Delmotte, Simon Delestre and Kevin Staut. Sam also put to good use the time he spent in management at Oakley and followed the genius philosophy of its founder Jim Jannard, who didn’t launch a product until he was certain it would be the best on the market.
Sam took this vision to engineers and created the first line of Samshield protective helmets, the Premium Alcantara, which debuted in 2005 in a show jumping competition in Chantilly, France. Today, the helmets are worn around the world and continue to evolve as Samshield raises the bar of its exacting standards. Any new model is thoroughly rider-tested before it hits the market.
Designed and finished by hand in France, they’re renowned for their exceptional fit and comfort with unique airflow vents that keep riders’ heads cool. Another great feature: the inner liner is removable for easy cleaning. The liners are also replaceable. Fit is state-of-the-art with helmets sold in three basic sizes that are fitted to the rider by variously sized liners that snap into place.
Samshield is the first riding headwear ever to use motorcycle helmet technology. They’re ASTM/SEI certified and meet strict safety standards. Samshield helmets are also trés chic.
Samshield sponsors high-performance riders around the world in show jumping, dressage and three-day eventing. Their North American riders include Heather Blitz (dressage) and show jumpers Georgina Bloomberg, Kent Farrington, Brianne Goutal, Eric Lamaze and McLain Ward. Among Samshield’s young generation of equestrians are Lucy Davis, Lillie Keenan and Reed Kessler.
Riders can choose from an assortment of options and customizations, including five Swarovski crystals and/or 255 crystals, special crystal designs, custom striping and all sorts of fabric from shimmery crystallized to leather — too many to list. Rest assured that Samshield’s bling is both tasteful and the height of helmet fashion, with leather harnesses for jumpers and dressage. The models are Shadowmatt, Premium, XC and the totally customizable My Samshield.
Recent additions to Samshield protective headwear are designed for the oldest team sport in recorded history. The Shadowmatt Polo Helmet and Premium Polo Helmet feature all of Samshield’s high-tech components with a reinforced chin strap for more hit protection around the temples, ears and cheeks and Samshield’s longer “polo visor” (available separately) for greater hit and sun protection. Available in North America in black, blue, grey and brown with customizable options, both polo helmets are safety certified CE-VG1 01.040 2014-12 and ASTM/SEI.
“Our founder, Sam, brought innovative thinking and cutting-edge technology to riding helmet design as well as elegance and greater comfort,” said Julien Lecomte, director of Samshield North America and a rider since age 7. “When I ride, I want to be wearing a Samshield. All of our friends who ride use Samshield. We stand behind these helmets and look forward to serving you.”
For more information, visit www.samshield.com/en
Photos courtesy of Samshield