In the same way that hockey, tennis or an intense session at the gym is personally rewarding, so is horse riding. All of these sports however involve certain risks and it’s important to remember that horses and ponies have minds of their own and will always do what they want – no matter how well trained they are.
Although injuries occasionally happen when riding, there’s a lot you can do to prevent them from occurring. Here are our top tips on staying safe whilst riding.
Understand horse behaviour
Knowing a little about how a horse thinks is a must when riding safely as this will allow you to adjust your own behaviour when training them; thus improving safety as a whole.
Unlike humans who have the ability to judge how far away certain objects are, horses have trouble with this due to the wide spacing of their eyes. Both loud noises and sudden movements can easily scare a horse, especially if these movements and noises occur outside their field of vision.
When riding, always do your best to avoid entering a situation where there is a lot of commotion or the risk of unexpected movements or sounds is high.
Know the warning signs
If a horse is scared or aggravated it may lash out. Bared teeth, pinned back ears, a shaking head, swishing tail and rolling eyes are all signs that a horse is likely to bite or kick so make sure you know what these look like.
To avoid being injured by your horse you should always approach them with caution. Talking to the horse on approach will prevent it from feeling threatened by you and you should also approach a horse from near its lower neck or shoulder and never from behind.
Choose the right match
Just as it’s important to choose the right sized horse riding hats, it’s also important to choose the right size horse. Anything too big will make you feel like you have no control over the animal. Your perfect match should be appropriate for your skills, size and experience.
Invest in the right equipment
Injuries can occur when working around horses and when riding them, which is why it’s always important to wear the correct gear.
Choosing the right horse riding equipment is a must as it will offer you protection if you are ever to fall off your horse. You’ll need to invest in a good helmet and one that meets the required safety standards. Make sure it fits comfortably and securely as head injuries can be particularly dangerous.
In addition to a riding hat or helmet you should also invest in the following items:
- Horse riding jackets: for protection from the weather and falls; always look for all-season options
- Body protector: for additional warmth and protection on your torso
- Riding boots: for stability in the saddle and good grip
- Riding gloves: to ensure a solid grip of reigns and shield hands from damage
- Fluorescent clothes: to increase visibility and safety at night or in difficult riding conditions
You should also use the correct sized stirrups and stirrup irons to ensure safety in the saddle and always ensure that your seat, saddle and reins are fitted correctly and securely to the horse.