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15 September 2014

A Small Drama Turns Up Some Interesting Information

By Elaine Wafer


If you are thinking of starting the 2004 ride season with a new riding hat you may find the following story of interest.

My preferred model of hat is the Advanced Tech Helmet made by International Riding Helmets who are an American company.  I purchased it in 2001 it has always been a perfect fit and gives me just the right amount of ventilation I require.

I was wearing said hat on 17th August ’03 while taking part in the pleasure ride at Forest of Deer.  During a section of forestry my ‘sure-footed’ Highland Erne tripped over a large chunk of fresh air and we both crashed to the hardcore road.  Erne’s left shoulder and head touched down first closely followed by my own.  I realized in a flash that the chin strap on my hat hadn’t been done up tight enough, something to check the next time you put your own hat on!, although my hat did stay on, it did slide round my head a bit.

I jumped to my feet needing to check the whereabouts of the half ton Highland who had just crashed within inches of me.  After the little purple lights on the fir trees opposite had gone out, I could see the look of shock on his face and the first thing out of my mouth was ‘Bloody Hell Erne’.  Thankfully there was nothing more than scratches on both of us and we carried on and completed the ride within time.

The next day I realized how hard a knock my hat had took as I had quite a tender ‘egg’ to the left of my brow.  That’s when I decided to replace my hat with another of the same model, better safe than sorry and all that jazz, but that’s when the problems started.

I knew it had come from a mail order catalogue but I had no idea which one and none of the ones I had were stocking it any more. 

Plan B, I phoned all the tack shops in our area (Grampian) to no avail.  The only one which came close was Gilkhorn at Maud.  They had a hat by ‘IRH’, supplied by Weatherbeeta, but not my model which, it turned out, they were unable to get.

Plan C, to the internet.  I found loads of American tack shop sites where I could buy the hat direct from and noticed a snippet in one of them which I found most interesting.  It said that International Riding Helmets ran a Crash Replacement Scheme on all its helmets.  You could send damaged helmet with $40.00 and they would send you a new one.  Bingo, I thought.  If I could only find a contact for ‘IRH’, I’d get my £80ish hat replaced for a fraction of the cost of a new one.  I spent 3 days trying to find a contact for the company.  Q ‘clever clogs’ husband.  He found me the info I needed which was

To my surprise my first e-mail was answered promptly by the president of the company Frank Plastino.  He told me to contact Geff Fieldhouse of Fieldhouse Saddles and he would arrange a replacement in the UK.  Great, results at last!  It’s mid September by now you see.  On contacting them by phone I was shocked to find they knew my first name and were expecting me to ring as Frank had contacted Geff from the USA and Geff had told the office to expect my call.  I was told the hat would be replaced free of charge.  WOW! FREE!!  Am I dreaming here?

Not quite but the free bit turned out to be a mistake by girl in office, she should have asked me to send down £30.00 to them when I sent the damaged hat.  As it was their mistake they would honour it this time.

After all this you can imagine my disappointment when the new hat arrived and turned out to be a bad copy of my hat made under the Just Togs label.  Not wanting to look ungrateful and ruffle the feathers at Fieldhouse, I decided to contact Frank to see if he was aware that the replacement hat was not of the same quality as the one I had.  It turns out that they had to re-model that hat for the UK market some copyright argument I think.

 Anyway, Frank seemed so impressed with my praise of his range of hats he told me to keep the Just Togs one with his compliments and decided to FedEx an Advanced Tech Helmet to me direct from the USA.  That’s service for you Eh!

So in turn for Frank’s kindness to me, I’d like to recommend his range of hats to all you good endurance people in the north east and beyond.  They do classic riding, jumping and endurance styles of hat in lots of colours too, well worth a look.

 Want more info, then contact (I have a brochure).