This article discusses the importance of horse riding safety gear. We will discuss the use of horse riding helmets, horse riding safety vests, proper horse riding footwear and provide information on where you can research and purchase these items at a great value.
It’s Your Head – Protect It!
Let’s put vanity aside and talk about the startling facts of equine related head injuries. One report of annual equine related injuries stated that ninety-three thousand people showed up at emergency rooms with serious injuries and that head injuries accounted for sixty percent of all equine related deaths. If that one point alone doesn’t answer whether or not you should wear a horse riding helmet here are some more statistics that will strengthen the case for safety.
If you were unfortunate enough to suffer a head injury while riding but survived you may still be faced with other terrible health issues. Some that have suffered head injuries and survived faced permanent personality changes, some suffered permanent intellectual impairment and some developed epilepsy, all of which are life altering to say the least. The financial aspect of treating a head injury is also devastating. One day of treatment for serious head injuries is about twenty-five thousand dollars!
Some other statistics are:
Eighty percent of injuries occur while in the saddle
Injuries (including head injuries) are more common among women
The majority of injuries happen while pleasure riding
Equine related head injuries surpass head injuries related to both football and soccer
So now that we’ve gained perspective, what do you think about the importance of wearing a horse riding helmet? I know back in the day it was considered “not cool” to wear a helmet, but the reality is that to
The short answer is absolutely! Injury statistics show that riding vests can reduce the risk of serious injury by approximately sixty percent! As a long time trainer and clinician I have come to appreciate the value of riding vests. A riding vest coupled with a riding helmet can not only reduce the risk of injury but it can extend the number of years you can ride a horse and enjoy your passion. I had a clinic participant (72 years old) that attended one of my five day clinics that focused on putting a handle on a green horse and she cited her vest and helmet for giving her the confidence to ride knowing she was doing all she could do to lessen the chance of injury should she have an accident. She completed the clinic by the way and her young gelding was on his way to being a willing partner by the end of day five.
I am also convinced that vests have a place in colt starting. As a trainer you often times have to take every opportunity to train that comes your way if you want to make a living and build a business, at least in the beginning. This means that you will be faced with challenges in the form of difficult horses. I can’t tell you how many times in those early years I suffered bruised ribs, whether it was from being bucked off or stepped on afterwards, and had I been wearing a vest those injuries would have been lessened or eliminated altogether. Now in my fifties when starting a colt you can bet I will be wearing a vest.
Vests that are available today are far superior to what they used to be like. They are much lighter, more tailored to allow proper movement and don’t look half bad when worn. I think they should be a part of every equine enthusiasts war bag! Check out some great options on vests here.
Your Riding Boots – Are They Safe?
Riding boots are also something you need to consider when the subject of riding safely is considered.
First and foremost if you are a serious rider and spend any amount of hours in the saddle you need to wear boots that are tall enough to cover your calf. Of course inside of those boots you should be wearing a good quality pair of riding socks that come up completely over your calves and that will stay there.
It may sound like a small detail but your horsemanship and your ability to ride well are directly related to having the right gear that provides comfort, the more comfortable you are when in the saddle the better you will ride. Short boots on a long ride will result in some of the nastiest wounds on your calves that you will experience and can leave terrible scars as well. I recommend at least a thirteen-inch top on western boots and if you’re riding English, then your boots will be sufficiently tall enough. I also suggest that you’re riding boots be purchased at least a half size bigger than your actual shoe size so if you come off and get hung up your foot will come right out, avoiding serious injury.
My last point about boots is this, DO NOT WEAR LACE-UPS! I’m going to share a real life incident that illustrates why I am so against lace-ups when riding. I had an old acquaintance that like myself spent a lot of time riding in the mountains. He always wore lace up riding boots and every time I ran into him I would give him a hard time about riding in them, telling him the danger of getting hung up and maybe killed as a result. He would always just laugh at me in reply and tell me he’s worn them his entire life and never had an issue and of course I told him it would only have to be once to be too many.
Well low and behold I get a call one day from a friend and in conversation he tells me that this guy was in the hospital with serious injuries and that he had a wreck with his horse trail riding in the mountains nearby. What had happened was that he had taken his two sons and his son-in-law on a ride back into one of his favorite trout fishing spots. On the way back, coming down off the mountain, the son-in-law that seldom rode and who was wearing tennis shoes on the ride began to fall off his horse. In an attempt to save his son-in-law this guy tried to grab the reins of his horse as the horse trotted by and in doing so his horse spooked and spun around, he fell off and got hung up. The horse bolted down the steep trail dragging this guy over boulders and rocks, his lace up boot stuck in his stirrup. The only thing that saved him from certain death was that one of his sons was up ahead, heard the commotion, dismounted and as his father was being dragged by he jumped on top of his dad ripping his foot from the stirrup saving his life but his efforts resulted in his father having a compound fracture of his lower leg. All of this could have been avoided by wearing the proper foot gear, his foot would have simply slid out of his boot and all they would have had to do was catch his horse and go home.
So all in all you can see that being safe while riding doesn’t just involve preparing your horse, it involves investing in some safe riding gear! In a perfect world of horsemanship I would love to see every rider wearing head protection, a vest and the proper kind of boots. Horseback riding is inherently dangerous, but we can eliminate much of that danger by first wearing the proper gear and then of course making sure we have properly prepared our horse. Check out all the items mentioned in this article here.
Stay In Touch
I would love to hear your comments about safety concerns when riding and experiences you have had
when riding that highlight the value of safety gear. Please leave your comment here and feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Joe is a lifetime horseman and student of the horse. He spent years as a trainer and as a horsemanship clinician. He is also a real estate professional and a former contractor specializing in residential construction.