Horse riding can be a safe
and extremely rewarding hobby when the rider takes steps to minimize
risks. As with any of the most enjoyable activities in life, it is impossible
to eliminate all risks. But, by educating yourself to equestrian safety,
the possibility of injury can be greatly reduced.
Match Horse to Rider
Ability - Throughout our riding careers our skills are constantly
improving. Novice riders need to stick with calmer, more experienced
horses until the necessary riding skills are achieved. If you wonder
that you may be “over mounted,” you probably are. Consult
with a riding instructor BEFORE purchasing a horse. She/he will help
you find a horse that is matched to your current skill level.
- Inexperienced riders should get lessons from a professional. Riding
lessons can be somewhat expensive, but well worth it for increased riding
safety. You can reduce the cost by finding a lesson partner on your
own skill level. Many instructors offer reduced rates for groups of
two or more students.
Always Wear A Helmet
- Always wear a properly fitted ASTM/SEI
certified equestrian riding helmet. Equestrian helmets are different
than bicycle helmets, as they are designed for impact to the back of
the head, as opposed to front or side injuries which bicycle helmets
are designed for. The majority of head injuries from horse riding accidents
are to the back of the head.
Check Your Tack Regularly
- Make it a habit to give your tack a thorough safety check every few
weeks. Look for worn leather and fabric and rust and pay particular
attention to fasteners, such as Chicago screws. This is also a good
time to recheck that the bit is fitting properly. There should be no
space between the bit and the corner of the mouth and no more than two
creases in the corner of the mouth. Bit fit can change as leather expands
and contracts over time.
- Wear a boot with a good heel to keep your foot from slipping through
the stirrups. Not being able to get your foot free during a mishap is
a terrifying experience and can result in the rider being dragged. As
an additional precaution, you can prevent dragging accidents by using
a safety stirrup, such as peacock stirrups, break away stirrups or Toe
Stoppers. Toe Stoppers are a stirrup attachment that prevent the foot
from slipping through that can be fitted to any stirrup style.
- It’s easy when you're plodding along, chatting to your riding
buddies on a beautiful day on the trail to forget you’re supposed
to be actively” riding” your horse. You may become a bit
of a back seat passenger. This can be very dangerous as your reaction
time will be delayed by critical seconds. Stay alert and attentive at
all times while riding. Not tense - but constantly aware of the environment
- your riding surface, your peripheral vision, your distance in relationship
to other riders, your horses responses to your cues -- much as you would
(or should be) while driving.
Trail Riding Safety
- By following a few safety and etiquette rules, trail riding can be
a safe and fun way to see our beautiful country .
Never ride alone. Ride with
someone you know to be experienced and thoughtful.
Take your cell phone.
Wait until all riders are mounted
to move off.
If you could be returning after
dark, wear reflective clothing and take a small flash light.
Horses prone to kicking should
wear a red ribbon on their tails.
Keep at least one horse length
between you and the horse in front.
In larger groups, elect someone
who knows the trails as trail boss. The trail boss knows the trails,
maintains the pace and is considerate of others when increasing speed.
Do not pass the trail boss.
When riding during hunting
season, make lots of noise and wear visible clothing such as a fluorescent
vest. Using rhythm beads on your horse is a good way to alert hunters
that you are NOT a deer.
A pen knife and baling twine
can be very useful for emergency tack repairs.
Take a hoof pick.
Do not leave the trail. Holes
and unsafe surfaces, sharp objects and hornets nests may exist in unknown
areas such as open fields.
Practicing safe riding principles
can mean many years of happy, healthy riding enjoyment for you and your
Have fun and stay safe!