Rider Safety: Always in Fashion

Whether you’re hitting the trail or riding in the ring, outfit yourself head to toe in smart and safe riding gear.

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Many riders understand the importance of wearing a helmet. You might not be willing to risk a traumatic brain injury to avoid helmet head, but what about the rest of your ensemble? Regardless of your riding discipline, safety starts at the head and continues all the way down to the toes.

Give Improper Footwear the Boot

Choose a riding boot with an appropriately sized heel; save your pumps and wedge heels for other scenarios. A moment of imbalance is all it takes for a foot to slide through the stirrup creating the potential for a nasty accident. Being dragged by the ankle rarely ends well for the rider. Wearing an appropriate boot with ankle support significantly reduces your chances of dangling upside down from an animal that flees danger first and asks questions later.

Also consider the types of sole and tread available. Avoid extra heavy or wafflelike treads commonly found on hiking and generic winter boots; these can become jammed in the stirrup.

Axe the Accessories

Bling is popular in the horse world these days. You can find it at every show, from rhinestone brow bands to helmets adorned with gems. There are many ways to stand out, but steer clear of jewelry that dangles. Necklaces, bracelets, and hanging earrings are all accessories that can become snagged. Keep your look streamlined by braiding or pulling back long hair.

Get a Grip

Gloves are highly recommended when you are riding or leading a horse. They provide protection against friction burns, calluses, blisters, not to mention the weather. They should be a snug fit and non-slip.

Dress Smart for any Season

An old adage says there is no bad weather, just the wrong clothes. So no matter the weather, be prepared to ride your horse safely and comfortably.

Vests are quite popular when the temperature starts to drop as they allow riders to maintain mobility and comfort. Some companies also offer jackets designed for riding. Remember that large, bulky clothing can be caught on equipment or objects. Riding apparel is close-fitting for a reason.

Chaps, half chaps, and breeches are designed to provide grip and protect the rider from friction sores. They come in a wide variety of materials for all seasons so dress for the weather.

Body protectors are available to help protect your torso if you fall, and they’re not just for three-day eventers anymore. Riders of many disciplines are making use of these protective devices in a variety of scenarios.

And finally, if you’re hitting the trails or roads, consider wearing high visibility clothing. Brightly colored safety vests and other gear help ensure you are seen and send a clear message that you should be given a wide berth. Before you head out on the trails, remember to tell a responsible party where you are going and your estimated time of return, carry a cell phone, and bring your health insurance card and identifying information.

Whether you are hitting the trail, going cross-country, or riding in the ring, outfit yourself head to toe in smart, safe riding gear. Maximize your enjoyment of riding while reducing your risk of injury.


Written by:

Equine Guelph is the horse owners’ and caretakers’ center at the University of Guelph, supported and overseen by equine industry groups, and dedicated to improving the health and well-being of horses.

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