Hacking tips to keep both you and your horse safe on UK Roads and Bridle Ways
With sunny days right around the corner, most of us are imagining views between our horse's ears and putting some miles under our belts. With the British Horse Society reporting alarming statistics of 68 horses losing their lives last year and two being killed this year already, horse riding safety in the UK has never been more critical.
Hi-Vis Clothing: Be Safe, Be Seen
Hi-vis is a relatively inexpensive way to ensure other people can see you. Be it on the road or across the countryside; it is a must-have to ensure both you and your horse’s safety.
Not limited to road users, hi-vis also allows low-flying aircraft to see you and take evasive manoeuvres to ensure your safety, and should you ever need help, it also helps emergency services to find you.
Hi-Vis Essentials for Ultimate Safety on the Road
When riding on UK's roads and bridleways, making sure you and your horse are visible is paramount. Here are some top hi-vis essentials that every rider should consider:
- Exercise Sheet: Perfect for those cooler days, a hi-vis exercise sheet keeps your horse warm and ensures motorists easily see them.
- Ear Bonnet: Combining functionality with visibility, a hi-vis ear bonnet protects your horse from pesky flies and enhances visibility.
- Rider Safety Vest and Hat Band: A hi-vis safety vest and hat band are non-negotiables for the rider. Ensure you're seen from a distance, whether you're on a country lane or a busy road.
Best on a Budget
Safety and style can go hand in hand; make sure you and your horse are geared up with the best!
Planning Your Route for a Safe Ride
Sometimes it is nice to discover a new trail ad-hoc, but having an idea of your route ahead of time will allow you to enjoy your ride fully and avoid pitfalls. Consider having a tag attached to you and your horse with emergency details on, should you find yourselves parting company. Don’t forget your mobile phone - ensure it is charged and has emergency numbers, such as your vet and yard, just in case you need them. Consider carrying a hoof pick and a small first aid kit for both horse and rider.
Communicate Your Riding Plan
If you are hitting the trail solo, it is especially important that you let someone know where you are going - just in case you hit some trouble and don’t have a phone signal, it is a good way to ensure you have backup should things go awry.
Fun with friends
Even better, why not go with some friends?
This can not only help you enjoy your hack more but also give your horse some confidence if they are a little greener when it comes to leaving the yard. Be mindful to stay alert - don’t switch off whilst chatting to your friends. Remember your horse needs you to be present to keep you both safe.
Want to keep a record of how many miles you cover? The AQHA UK ‘Get on and Ride’ initiative rewards participating members for hours spent in the saddle on their nominated horse. You do not have to own a Quarter Horse, but you do have to be an AQHA-UK Member.
Tech Support: Best Apps for Horse Riders
There are a myriad of apps out there that can support you when you need it most. From location apps to ones that track your movements as you ride, and in the event of a fall will assist you in being rescued, it is worth having on your phone just in case. Some smart watches also have fall detection and will initiate a process to alert emergency services should you fall. Check out What3Words, Horse Rider SOS and Saferider for ideas.
Before you go…
As a minimum, every rider should have third-party insurance, and personal accident coverage is never a bad idea. Check out the British Horse Society and other member associations that offer affordable ways to stay insured.
Wear an approved hard hat, and consider a body protector if riding on the road or across hard summer ground.
Say, thank you to other road users who are courteous. A raised hand, a nod, and a smile go a long way to foster relationships between horse riders and the general public.
Remember to stay safe, and have fun!
For further information about the BHS ‘Dead Slow’ campaign, visit www.bhs.org.uk
For more information on the AQHA UK ‘Get on and Ride’ initiative, visit www.aqha-uk.org