I f this is an article that you purposefully searched for as opposed to stumbling onto, then it means that you’ve taken on a new hobby: horse riding. We are pleased to be the ones to welcome you into this beautiful community and we will get into the proper equipment you’ll need to ride a horse shortly, but first, here are some of the benefits that will follow if you are consistent and practice this sport with every occasion you have:
- Muscle building (especially in the legs)
- A stronger core
- Better coordination and awareness of one’s surroundings
- Better reaction time
- Improved confidence
- Better posture
These are only a few of the numerous perks that come after engaging in this activity. Studies have also shown that it is beneficial in developing children’s Go/No-Go reactions and lessening autistic children’s irritability. Even simple interactions with horses, like grooming, petting, or walking with them proved to help participants remain calm under pressure and helped them “perceive that they were able to behave more positively after said interactions”. So, as you can see, it brings just as many mental benefits as physical ones.
How important is it to have appropriate protection gear?
Horses are some of the largest domestic animals that man can engage with – and some even reach weights of up to 2,000 pounds – which is why protection is something you should not forego. Although trained and domesticated, horses are still animals and they can react unexpectedly when they are scared or when something takes them by surprise. If you were to have a hoof hit your head, at best you would have a concussion and at worst, well, you wouldn’t have to worry about anything ever again.
As nowadays this activity is done for recreation or sport and not for wars, riders don’t have full-body armor anymore. The part of the protection equipment that has remained is the horseback riding helmet which needs to pass several tests and acquire numerous certifications to be approved for public use. Some of the most common tests are:
- BSI Kitemark – which implies the testing of a random piece out of a large batch
- SEI – which implies repeated testing of a batch over a long period of time
- CE mark – which implies an initial test and subsequent tests for each following upgrade (if any have been made)
What are the main pieces of equipment needed?
Fortunately, you won’t need to spend a fortune in order to have the proper equipment ready before mounting your first horse. There are three main aspects that you should be mindful of, and for those three there are certain pieces that you can take into consideration.
Keep Your Head Safe
As we mentioned earlier, the one thing that has and will always remain is the piece of equipment that will protect your head from blows or if you accidentally fall off your steed. A good helmet will absorb the shocks before they get to your head and keep you from getting a concussion, but this sturdiness is not the only feature that a helmet can come with. Other aspects include:
- Good ventilation – seeing as you’ll most likely sweat under the helmet, especially during summer, ventilation slots can be added to alleviate the discomfort of riding with a wet head
- A liner that can absorb sweat – this one goes hand in hand with the ventilation aspect
- A lightweight construction – a heavy helmet will only get more and more uncomfortable as time passes, therefore most are made to be easy on the neck
- A comfortable padding layer – seeing as it can be worn for hours on end, it should be extra comfortable as well so extra padding is present to accomplish this
- Adjustable components – the chin strap, the harness, and the liner are all parts that can be made to be adjustable to provide a better fit
- A dashing style – this can refer to the color, the shape, or any added decorations that add to the overall aspect
Keep Your Body Safe
When riding for the first time, the variety of apparel might seem a bit too much and too many options can result in a confused reader. That’s why we’ve decided to separate the options based on your experience and the frequency with which you’re planning on riding.
For beginner riders, things are pretty simple. The rules of thumb you’ll have to follow are wearing clothes that are made from breathable fabrics, lightweight, long, and preferably without any seams. A lightweight and breathable fabric will keep you comfortable and sweat-free, and the seamless part will help with preventing any sore spots from repeated pressing. The ‘long’ refers to the length of the garments, especially the pants – because without long pants you will definitely face chafing on the inner sides of your legs.
For the top, you can choose just about anything that will allow free movement and for the bottoms, you could choose jeans, leggings, or other options similar in length. Another element that could add to your comfort is a properly fitted horse saddle that will offer posture support for both you and your steed, but this doesn’t fall under the category of things you will be wearing.
A seasoned rider will have spent more time on a horse, therefore investing in qualitative clothing made especially for riding would be a good idea. The choices are:
- For the top – A short or long-sleeved polo, Specialized sweatshirts, Thermal tops (during winter)
- For the bottom – Breeches, Jodhpurs, Thermal leggings (during winter)
- Optional – Gloves are a detail that you can add if you know that your hands are sensitive
Keep Your Feet Safe
Lastly, the addition of a good pair of horse riding boots will make sure that you are comfortable from head to toe and that your feet are offered the proper support that you need. Although some think that there’s no need to buy footwear specifically for riding, that thought couldn’t be more wrong. There are a few qualities that need to be met, and given the versatility in styles and lengths, you can even get a pair that can be worn during your daily activities.
What you should look into before spending your money are the following details:
- What type do you need? – From paddock to Western and from riding to dressage, the types of boots vary so you need to know the exact activities you’ll be using them for.
- What style do you want? – Whether you want a knee or a calf-length, a tight or a loose fit, laces or zippers, all of these details need to be considered beforehand.
- What material do you prefer? – Genuine leather can be more expensive but it has a higher chance of lasting longer, but lately, some synthetic materials have proven that they can also withstand the test of time while keeping you within your budget as well.
- Is weather resistance necessary? – If the climate you live in only sees sunny days, water-resistance might not be at the top of your priorities but some models are pre-treated to withstand puddles, mud, and so on.
- Is your horse on the wilder side? – For those with horses that tend to react unexpectedly and flail about, some boots come with safety-certified toes to keep your feet as protected as possible.
- Is fashion an issue? – If yes, most boots come in plenty of different styles to help you be fashionable and stand out at all times.
Some optional pieces to add to your ensemble
If you’ve been riding for a while, or you already know that you want to pursue a more professional route, there are more pieces that you can add to your ensemble to make the riding experience more comfortable and more stylish as well. Those are:
- Half chaps – These are add-ons used especially with paddock-type boots. They are a piece of material that can be connected to the sole of the boot and pulled up to create the illusion of a full boot. They do provide warmth and protection but they allow for a freer movement compared to the standard knee-length footwear.
- Waistcoats – Whether they’re used as an accessory or for safety purposes, these vest-like garments can be reflective or can add warmth.
- Show Clothing – These are usually used by those who plan on entering contests or going into dressage. Jackets, breeches, dressage boots – these are just some examples of what you can find on the market.
You can also go different routes depending on the style you prefer, whether it’s a more modern approach, a western one, an English one, etc.
The most important detail to remember when it comes to what you should be wearing is confidence. A confident rider is less likely to make mistakes and fewer mistakes mean a lower risk of falls or accidents. Keep in mind to also have fun and treat your horse with respect at all times.