Riding a horse can be one of the most fun and thrilling pastimes imaginable. It can also be a dangerous one, which is why you need to make sure that you are following the right riding protocol and safety measures at all times.
To that end, let’s take a look at 10 horse riding safety rules every equestrian enthusiast should follow.
- The Importance of Pants
That last bullet point is one of the most often overlooked aspects of riding safety, which is unfortunate given how important it is. Riding a horse can lead to severe chafing and irritation as the inside of your legs rub up against your horse’s hide. Unless you want to dismount with a severe case of irritated reddened legs, you need to make sure to wear proper riding pants. The best riding breeches are designed to be lightweight and breathable while still being thick enough to protect against irritation.
- Maintain a Good Grip
Another reason gloves are so important is because they can help ensure that you are able to maintain a good grip while riding. The last thing you want to do is slip off, especially while your horse is at a full gallop. Just as batting gloves can help a batter maintain a better grip on the bat, so too should you always wear riding gloves while riding a horse.
- Wear Boots While Grooming
Riding boots are the peak of equestrian fashion. That said, they can also be quite hot and snug, so it can be quite tempting to pull them off and let your feet breathe a little when you’re done riding and grooming your horse. You’ll want to resist that urge, however, because all it takes is your horse stepping on your unprotected foot with their hoof once for you to be introduced to a world of pain.
As a rule of thumb, whenever hooves are involved, riding boots should be as well.
- Saddle, Bridle, and Cross Ties Tips
Your horse’s saddle, bridle, and cross ties are important for leading your horse. For your horse’s safety as well as your own, you’ll want to follow a few basic safety tips when using them.
For example, if you are using cross ties, you should never move in front of the horse or duck underneath the lead rope. Doing so could lead to injury if your horse falls forward on top of you.
You also want to make sure that you lead your horse while bridled with their head in a figure 8 position. Do not wrap the reins around your hand, as this can lead to injury for you or the horse.
If you are using an English saddle, you can and should put the irons there when it is not being ridden. This prevents your horse from getting their mouth caught in the irons, and prevents the stirrups from getting stuck on fencing while you lead your horse on foot.
- Proper Dismount Procedure
One of the most important aspects of equestrian safety is proper dismounting. You don’t want to tumble and fall, and that can be all too easy to do if you dismount too quickly and rashly. Your feet may become caught in the stirrups, or you may slide off the horse before you’re ready.
To dismount properly, slide down with your right hip while facing the front of the horse. You should never face the saddle, as this can cause your riding gear to become caught on the saddle horn, causing you to fall.
- Feeding Your Horse
When done right, there is nothing more delightful than feeding time for your horse after a good ride. Even here, however, proper safety protocol is essential for making sure your horse doesn’t accidentally nip your fingers. You should, therefore, always feed your horse treats out of a bucket, rather than straight out of your hand.
- Don’t Force Your Horse
Horse riding is and always should be a joint venture between you and your trusty steed. You should never force your horse beyond its abilities, especially if it is scared or tired. Not only is this unfair toward your horse, but it could lead to them rearing up or otherwise acting suddenly and unexpectedly, which in turn could lead to injury. A tired or scared horse is far harder to control, so do what you can to avoid these conditions, and never force your horse to do something they are uncomfortable with doing.
- Miscellaneous Tips
- Remove all jewelry before riding
- Always check your horse’s condition before riding
- Never force your horse to ride if it is ill
- Make sure you have a first aid kit on you with medicine to treat both yourself and your horse
- It is typically advisable to carry a cellphone with you in case of an accident or other emergency; however, you should never talk or text on your cellphone while riding
- When possible, ride with a partner, and always make sure other people know where you are when you go out riding
- When training, make sure you know your own skill level and don’t try to exceed your abilities
- Keep your feet in the stirrup the entire time you are riding your horse
- Check the weather and terrain in your area before riding
- Last, but not least, you should always make sure that your horse riding equipment as listed above is in prime condition
Horse riding can be one of the most rewarding pastimes, but only if you take the proper precautions and are well-educated and prepared in proper equestrian safety and protocol. With these tips, you’ll be able to ride your horse confidently and safely.