This is pure coincidence, but I can clearly recall the first time I saw a KASK helmet, because it stopped me in my tracks.

It was the first day of the Piazza di Siena CSIO5* in Rome, Italy, and the vendors were still setting up. The eye catching KASK helmets were displayed inside glass cases and looked different than any other helmet I’d seen before.

This was in May 2015, and KASK, an Italian brand, was just making its entry into the American market. Its initial equestrian helmet model featured thick side protectors that were reminiscent of an in-helmet sound system. This made some sense, given KASK’s background in creating helmets for cycling and snow sports, but when sponsored rider Nicola Philippaerts became one of the first to debut KASK helmets for equestrians the look really stood out.

Nicola Philippaerts, one of KASK’s first sponsored riders, wearing the early, 2015 version of KASK’s equestrian helmet. Ph. Erin Gilmore for NF

It was those thick side protectors that first caught my eye, but in the two and a half years since, KASK has evolved its equestrian line into a more streamlined look, along with a dozen different helmet models and endless customization options. KASK now sponsors a slew of top riders; everyone from Olympic gold medalist in dressage Carl Hester of Great Britain, gold medalist in show jumping Roger Yves Bost, Daniel Deusser, Lorenzo de Luca, Steffen Peters, and — myself!

Ok, while I don’t quite ride to the same level as those previously mentioned riders, I could very vaguely feel a teeny tiny bit like them when a brand new KASK Star Lady helmet arrived just for me. Due to custom details on the sides, it is at least as flashy as the helmets that those other, slightly more accomplished riders wear. However, due to my globetrotting profession of covering show jumping events, my new helmet had to patiently wait (inside its stylish zip-up helmet bag with carrying handles) until the end of the summer before being put to use, but as soon as I could, I found a horse to ride and took my new helmet for a spin.

KASK sent a helmet that fit me perfectly, and if I need to do some adjusting, the machine washable inner liner can be swapped for different sizes. The updated harness features thin eco-leather straps that are comfortable and don’t move around or get in the way while riding. Here in Wellington, Florida in September, we are riding in 90-degree heat with a heat index that can still reach 100 degrees in the middle of the day, which translates to a perfect environment to test KASK’s venting system and the breathability of the helmet. I rode in the morning, when it was a mere 84 degrees, and my head stayed cooler and sweated less. And while we’re talking about the weather, I was protected by that lovely tropical-strength Florida sun by the Star Lady’s wide sun protection brim.

After 30 years of going helmetless in competition, Steffen Peters wore a helmet for the first time in competition at this year’s FEI World Cup Final. He chose a KASK. Ph. Erin Gilmore for NF

Safety is, of course, a given, and this approved helmet fits my head in such a way that it doesn’t move an inch, while still staying comfortable without a hint of that tight forehead feeling I sometimes would get from helmets past (you know what I’m talking about).

The only thing wrong with this picture might be my failure to put my hair up inside my new helmet, but I’m out of practice and anyway, isn’t this how the Europeans do it? Hair up or down, I love wearing the KASK Star Lady, and since I wear a helmet every time, every ride, this KASK and I have a beautiful future together.

KASK is a proud participant of the Riders4Helmets International Helmet Awareness day, September 16 – 17, 2017. Go here to find your local, participating retailer that carries KASK helmets. On Sept. 16 & 17, helmet purchases are discounted!