Keeping You Safe From Head to Toe- How Safety Conscious Are You?

With such a wide range of horse riding safety equipment available we are thoroughly spoilt for choice. It is important to remember that fundamentally when dealing with horses we are dealing with an animal whose first instinct when faced with danger is to run.

Also, try to remember that just as many accidents happen on the ground as they do in the saddle; it is important that we are prepared for all eventualities whether on foot or on board.

Regardless of whether you are a novice or a pro, taking a tumble is inevitable. But the right equipment can lessen the impact and reduce the damage. As equestrians, we are well-known for our tendency to hoard tack and equipment and bring them out for an airing at opportune moments. You know, that riding hat we only wear for special occasions or the body protector we wear occasionally when trying a new horse or when we’re getting back on board for the first time after a winter break.

Or maybe it’s the kids’ hand me downs which are no longer protecting your precious cargo.

Before setting of for the showground or competition, it is worth checking your hats and body protectors meet the safety standards stipulated in the rules of entry – it’s no good relying on old-faithful to get you out of a fix when it’s falling apart and threadbare.

Types of horse riding safety equipment

horse riding safety equipment hats

1. Riding hats

The most overlooked piece of kit and the one most likely to determine the outcome in an accident is your riding hat. It does not matter whether you prefer a riding hat or a skull cap, what matters is that you wear one! More often than not, we lead horses out to pasture or onto the lorry without a hardhat on our heads. If something did go wrong, we are equally as vulnerable on the ground as we are in the saddle.

Skull caps and riding hats have come a long way over the years. Gone are the days of rigid structures, rolled up newspaper to ensure fit and a simple elastic chin strap. These days riding hats offer genuine protection to the brain from trauma in the event of an accident. They are comfortable too: light weight and well-ventilated.

Treat yourself to a new hat as often as you need too, consider it an investment. Once your hat has been involved in an accident you ought to replace it as soon as possible. It is impossible to see the resulting damage on the inside and although the outer shell may look fine, it will not provide the protection you need next time.

horse riding safety equipment gloves

2. Gloves

When it comes to gloves the choices are endless, but it really is worth having 2 pairs. One pair for yard work and another pair for riding.

Rubber coated work gloves are perfect for around the yard when mucking out and they are weather-proof. They will go some way to preventing hands from becoming chapped and blistered; However, riding gloves are preferable when on board as they allow more feel and aid communication between the horse and rider.

Riding gloves are a must-have all year round, they protect your hands from chaffing and increase grip on the reins. Riding gloves, unlike everyday gloves, are grippy in all the right places and have additional grip and reinforcement between the fingers where the reins would sit. All the better for slippery reins during those unexpected rain showers and bitter winds which make our horses eager to jog all the way home.

horse riding safety equipment boots

3. Footwear

Many riders fail to give enough thought to correct footwear, but this becomes more important in the event of an accident. Footwear (such as jodhpur boots and riding boots) designed with riders in mind, is more able to slide loose of the stirrup and lessen the chances of the foot becoming tangled in the stirrup should the rider find themselves in trouble. Boots specifically for riding are not designed to grip and allow for more movement and flexibility whilst riding.

Footwear on the yard is something altogether different. You can’t beat a sturdy pair of boots with good grip and proper ankle support; steel toe caps certainly wouldn’t go amiss either! Like our backs, feet are made up of a phenomenal number of bones and take forever to heal- It’d be a shame to miss precious time in the saddle after having your foot stepped on whilst turning out a fresh horse in wet and boggy conditions!

horse riding safety equipment footwear stirrups

4. Safety Stirrups

Another safety gadget which has evolved significantly over recent years is the safety stirrups – with the initial idea being to help prevent the foot becoming caught in the stirrup in the event of an accident.

Tradition steel stirrups are rigid; safety stirrups have the capacity to flex and often have collapsible structure which will move and give under pressure or strain. As with most items on the equestrian market, you will find something to suit every budget.

Newer stirrups are far lighter than the traditional steel stirrups and you can choose a style to suit you. With safety in mind, they are either hinged or have a replaceable rubber ring. Although they have in-built safety mechanisms, it is still important to check them for wear and tear periodically- rubber is known to perish over long periods of time particularly if left in cold or damp environments. If you check them regularly, you’ll know they are fully functional should you need them.

Listen to your body…

This one seems a little obvious, but we all get carried away and lose ourselves at the yard, don’t we?

It sounds simple but staying hydrated is important- Lack of hydration is known to cloud our judgements. Look after yourself as well as your horse- our reusable hydration bottle is great for ensuring you always have a warm or cold drink to hand.

Keep warm- we can always take layers off but we will struggle to put more on. Our muscles are less prone to damage if they are kept warm and, science tells us that, several thinner layers are more efficient than one thick chunky layer. We can highly recommend these Eco Friendly tops which can be paired with some riding leggings and are bound to keep you warm and toasty on those chilly days.

Riding is certainly considered one of the more dangerous sporting activities. When on board, it makes sense to protect your back and vital organs from impact and injury. Not only is the spine a complex anatomical structure, but it also serves to protect our spinal cord so, regardless of age or experience levels, it is essential that we protect our backs. Once damaged, the pain is prolonged. The complex spinal structure of 33 vertebrae with a cushioning disc between all held together nicely by ligaments- is left a little bit weaker each time we damage it. This can be easily done by simply lifting a wheelbarrow which is a little too heavy, slipping on mud or by parting company with our horse.

Internal organs too take a long time to heal once damaged and sometimes do not recover to pre-accident levels. Given the fragility of our bodies, wearing a body protector seems perfectly logical, right? They are compulsory for all cross-country competitions and many show jumping and schooling venues insist they are worn too. Air Jackets are a relative newcomer to the safety scene and show just how far safety has come. These jackets are designed to inflate when the rider involuntarily leaves the saddle. These not only help to cushion the fall, but they also help to stabilise the neck.