Knowing the correct equipment to purchase and use can be the difference between surviving a fall or falling prey to injury. While even the most safely outfitted of equestrians can succumb to injury during a fall, knowing how to attire will help stave off unnecessary injury. A combination of equipment, fit, function and knowledge is key to protecting a body in a fall from a horse.
Utilizing quality equipment should be a top priority for any avid equestrian, professional or amateur, novice and skilled alike. With a seemingly unending supply of comparable safety products available on the market, consumers need to be educated and informed prior to shopping. As with all products, brands vary markedly in their quality, durability and general usefulness. For consumers looking to make equipment purchases to protect the body in the case of a fall, a properly fit helmet, boots and possibly a safety vest are the only requirements. Adding gloves to one’s attire might also be beneficial in the case of an untimely unseating. Quality is imperative when rider safety is at risk. Utilizing subpar equipment can lead to malfunction or further injury. Whenever possible, purchasing the highest quality equipment should be of the utmost importance.
One of the most important aspects in protecting oneself while riding is utilizing properly fit equipment. Riders who make purchases based on price versus fit are gambling with their own safety and well-being. Skilled sales professionals or seasoned equestrians should be consulted regarding fit, prior to purchase or use of equipment. A well fit helmet, pair of heeled boots and a safety vest can afford ample protection against injury in case of a fall.
Equipment function is another point of consideration when outfitting an equestrian. While street clothes may seem sport appropriate to the uneducated eye, horse people know better. A properly fitted boot offers stability, safety against the occasional unintentional step-on by a horse and most importantly, a suitable heel. Riders require square heels, approximately one inch in height, to help keep the foot from slipping through the stirrup iron in the event of a fall. A comparable street boot may become tangled if the heel is too thin. Functional equipment is critical to promoting rider safety. Riders should take care to always utilize an equestrian helmet. A comparable sports helmet has not been designed to withstand the rigors, impact or falls similar to those found in horseback riding.
Riders should be knowledgeable in how to properly utilize safety equipment. Improper use of equipment can lead to unnecessary injury or the potential for jury. In addition to proper fit, all equipment comes with guideless for use. Most important is helmet use and safety. Riders should avoid unnecessarily dropping their helmet on hard surfaces. Additionally, keeping this important safety device out of prolonged and direct sunlight, when not in use, can extend its lifespan. In the unfortunate instance of a rider fall, with head impact, the helmet should be replaced. Oftentimes, damage is invisible but the structural soundness has been compromised. An investment in a helmet is an investment in safety.
Locating safety equipment can be a challenging and intimidating process for the novice equestrian. Local tack shops are usually the best source for purchases. Here, consumers can try on or be fit for purchases. Plenty of mail order companies exist, however, proper fit can become more challenging when purchasing from afar. Both environments should be staffed with experienced staff willing to share their brand preferences, experiences and helpful hints to avoid injury.
With equipment in hand, it is time to saddle up and enjoy time on the back of a favorite mount. By using such standard items as a safety approved helmet, boots, gloves and even a safety vest, a rider can protect their body in the case of a fall. The helmet will work to prevent head and neck injuries. Boots will protect against the potential of a foot errantly sliding through a stirrup which could lead to dragging in a serious fall. Gloves can prevent scrapes and cuts in a minor spill from a horse. Safety vests are designed to provide protection against back injuries. Unfortunately, no level of preparedness or equipment provides guarantee against injury. Instead, riders should attire to acceptable safety standards, follow recommended guidelines and enjoy the world from the back of a horse.