Horse riding is an exhilarating experience and one which has been practiced for many centuries. Horses themselves have served us loyally as working animals, pets and even at war. Now, they’re appreciated more for competitive sport where both man and animal display an understanding of one another.
For riders, safety is of paramount importance no matter how experienced they may be. A horse can be exceptionally well-trained but there may be instances where a failure in communication, environmental conditions or health problems can pose a risk to safety.
Similar to the use of helmets in motorcycle riding, horse riding too requires riders to protect their heads from falls and bumps. Even minor jarring can cause injury to the head and brain. Unfortunately, some percentage of riders still avoid wearing helmets on the premise that they’re too ‘hot’ and heavy. This simply isn’t true as modern helmets are very light and are actually up to 80 percent lighter than old models.
As for the lack of ventilation, it couldn’t be further from the truth. Like motorcycle helmets which have undergone huge changes in design, equestrian helmets have also evolved to become very airy and according to studies, you actually feel cooler in a helmet than without one.
When purchasing helmets, look for one that’s FEI or Standards Australia-approved. You’ll come across models that don’t feature a safety standards stamp but have labels like ‘for dress only’ instead. Know that they’re not meant for proper riding. There are cases where consumers have unwittingly bought head gear not designed with safety standards and have ended up paying the ultimate price.
The spine, ribs and inner organs will all take a hard knock if you fall. As bulky and awkward as it feels at first, wearing a safety vest can greatly reduce the risk of serious injury. It’s padded for protection and ventilated to prevent the buildup of excessive heat. For occasional riders who don’t jump or race, vests are not seen as a necessity. However, more pleasure riders are wearing them than before so you should also consider the same.
An appreciated trait of vests is that the bulk doesn’t hinder the body or the arms and some wearers report being able to maintain their posture better when wearing one.
At a higher cost, you can purchase vests that come with air canisters which inflate them if you need to suddenly dismount.
Riding boots are another basic safety gear component as they prevent the feet from sliding through the stirrups. They also protect the feet from chafes caused by the saddle’s leather. Sturdy toes prevent injury in case your horse accidentally steps on your feet, a common occurrence especially with new riders.
Modern boots have heels of not more than an inch which serve just as well as older higher-heeled boots.
There are several styles of footwear with general purpose, dress, field and hunting boots being a few examples. Choose one that caters to your requirement and opt for quality over low price.
Reins can cause burns and blisters to the hands so gloves must be worn even for light riding. Ordinary gloves shouldn’t replace those designed for horse riding as they’re too slippery and don’t hold up well against abrasive action. Choose only those gloves that meet safety standards even if they cost a heftier sum.