Are you in need of an upgrade post-lockdown? Join Kathryn Jaquet of RB Equestrian for her step-by-step guide to safe hat fitting following the Covid-19 pandemic to ensure you can continue having fun in the saddle
One of the most frequently asked questions tack shops and equestrian retailers received during lockdown was – when are you going to be able to fit hats and body protectors again?
In part, this was due to the normal need to replace a hat after a fall, but for a high proportion of customers the Covid-19 pandemic, and the subsequent pressure placed on the NHS, made people re-assess their safety equipment. How old really was the hat they wore every day? Had they looked after it as well as they should have? Did they want to rely on a body protector with a BETA 2000 label on it given that it’s now 2020?
As members of the British Equestrian Trade Association (BETA), their advice and guidance during lockdown was crucial. As soon as they released their guidelines regarding fitting safety equipment, retailers were able to begin organising the safe resumption of hat and body protector fitting.
Following a risk assessment and an appropriate easing-in period that enabled quick procedure adaptations, socially distanced hat fittings are underway. Some of the precautions fitters are taking include…
- fitting hats in front of a mirror, so we no longer require any face to face contact
- using PPE, which has been made easier since the use of facemasks in shops became
- hand sanitiser being readily available for customers
- frequent hand washing and sanitising for team members
- careful control and quarantine of any hats that have been tried on but not purchased
It might be tempting to turn to the internet to buy your next hat or body protector but now, more than ever, I can’t stress enough the importance of getting your safety equipment fitted professionally. Here are a few ways to make your trip to the tack shop easier…
- leave plenty of time – it’s not unusual for hat fittings to take up to an hour
- check whether your retailer is making appointments for hat and body protector fittings
- go with a good idea of what you want, even if it’s just a clear budget. If everyone’s trying to limit the transmission of the virus then there’s no point in trying something on if you know there’s no chance you’ll buy it
- don’t be offended if your retailer checks whether you genuinely intend to buy – nobody wants to breach social distancing guidelines at the moment unless they have to
- if you’ already have a hat or body protector that’s a great fit – or a terrible one – take it with you. It might help your fitter get a better idea of what will be suitable before you even try anything on
- talk to your fitter about any issues you have with your current equipment before you start. For example, let them know if your hat always gives you a headache or slips forwards or if your body protector squashes your chest.
- think about your comfort and make sure you’re clear with whoever’s fitting your hat. Your fitter can tell you whether a hat or body protector is a good fit – but they can’t tell if it’s comfortable. Safety equipment is unlikely to be returnable unless it’s faulty, particularly at the moment, so this is extra important
- remember that hat fitting in particular is not a science. We’re trying to fit your unique head into a symmetrical hat and sometimes that might mean compromises. We have several hundreds of hats in stock at anyone one time, but occasionally we have to tell a customer we just don’t have anything that’s a good enough fit
- don’t feel pressured to buy something you’re not completely happy with – even if the person fitting the hat is delighted with the fit, don’t buy it unless you are, too. Your retailer might be disappointed – particularly when they think they’ve found a fabulous fit – but they’d prefer a happy customer singing their praises than an unhappy one doing the opposite!
- be open-minded. You might have your heart set on a particular hat or body protector, but if it’s not a great fit then it’s not worth the compromise