This Article is About
traumatic brain injury
many horses
blind panic
horror stories
stirrup
name of the game
complacency
helmet
Protective Horse Riding Gear - Essential For Equestrian Safety
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Protective Horse Riding Gear   -   Essential for Equestrian Safety

Anyone who sits on a horse for any reason should be wearing appropriate protective horse riding gear. Horses are reactive animals and even the most experienced riders are often caught off guard by their horse’s unexpected reaction to something as benign as a trashcan. He doesn’t know the strange looking canister isn’t out to eat him and if he decides to flee the scene, you’re going with him.

Many riders are injured because they are often lulled into a sense of complacency by a normally calm and docile horse. There are horror stories where people have received traumatic brain injury because they only got up there for “just a minute” to get their picture taken. Pictures abound of injuries to the feet where the horse inadvertently stepped on his rider’s foot while being led around. Injuries like these most commonly occur when we least expect it and being prepared is the name of the game when it comes to riding and being around horses safely.

The proper footgear is the first important aspect of safely handling horses. They are very large animals with no concept of where they are placing their feet and if you are walking around them in sandals, you could end up with a nasty if not crippling injury. Paddock boots with a firm toe and slight heel are best. The heavier leather of these boots is designed to minimize injury should you be stepped on. The slight heel also protects you while you’re riding as it prevents the foot from sliding too far into the stirrup. If your foot is too far in the stirrup, your foot will be caught should you have a fall. When a rider falls from the horse, this often startles him further which causes many horses to bolt. If your foot is caught in the stirrup, it’s a good bet you’ll be dragged as your horse runs in a blind panic.

The next aspect of riding safely is to wear a helmet every time, even if you only plan on being up there for a few minutes. Things with horses happen very quickly and you would do better to be prepared rather than be filled with regret later. You should only use ASTM helmets that are certified for use while riding. These helmets are certified to be constructed in a certain manner and are designed specifically to prevent injury to the head as it relates to horse riding. Many make the mistake of using a bicycle helmet, however, these helmets won’t withstand the blunt force to the head that a fall or kick from a horse might have.

Lastly, equestrian riding vests protect your upper body to minimize the effect of a concussive injury should you fall on an object or get stepped on by your horse in the event of a fall. They aren’t necessarily going to prevent all injuries, but they could mean the difference between cracked ribs or major trauma.

Think of wearing protective horse riding gear to be similar to wearing a seat belt in your car. It isn’t going to prevent injury 100% of the time, however it will provide additional protection to keep injuries at a minimum or at the very least non-life threatening. Riding safely insures not only your physical well-being but also helps you to get more enjoyment out of riding as it helps you feel more safe and secure in the saddle.


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