This week, the very best horsewoman I know got injured by a horse on the ground. It just hit home to me what a dangerous game we all play in the horse world. There is still a massive stigma around wearing safety equipment and I just don’t get it. So here we go, here’s what I think and here’s what I use.
These days generally you’re frowned upon if you don’t wear a proper hat whilst riding but there are still Pateys worn out hunting and top hats worn in dressage. I was shocked to read in Charlotte Dujardin’s book that she only started wearing a crash hat after a bad incident. When you think about high profile accidents like Jonty Evans’ fall it doesn’t bear thinking of what would have happened if he wasn’t wearing a hat.
What I want to preach but don’t necessarily practise is that really you should wear a hat when doing ANYTHING with horses. Leading in and out from the field can be dangerous enough let alone administering first aid.
Obviously a hat only does a good job if it is fitted correctly, up to standard, undamaged and done up (whoops to my picture). Noone wants to have to buy a new one too often but if you drop it or fall on your head you really should.
There is a reason all jockeys have to wear body protectors to race and eventers must wear them in the cross country phase! Anything that reduces the risk of serious injury sounds good to me!
I go through phases with whether I wear mine or not. I always use one when I’m jumping and on fun rides but I don’t do much of that anymore. Sometimes I wear mine when hacking, particularly if things are likely to get exciting or if Pea is feeling a bit fresh. My body protector sometimes acts as a safety blanket too, if I am feeling nervous about riding, for whatever reason, I feel more confident when wearing it.
I am the only adult at my yard who wears one but I don’t care. Lots of people say they aren’t comfortable but they are a lot more comfortable than being in hospital, take it from me! Again, a body protector will only do its job if it is correctly fitted to you.
I have an old Racesafe and would thoroughly recommend one to anyone because all the foam pieces mould to your body and are much more comfortable than some other designs. I will certainly need to upgrade to a new one for when I’ve built up enough stamina for going on fun rides and potentially riding other horses!
‘Be safe, be seen’ is quite a widely adopted hacking adage these days but you still see riders out on the road without it. I just don’t understand it! A high vis tabard is not expensive, nor is it particularly fashionable (although you can certainly get more fashionable ones) but it if it saves the life of you, your horse and others then it is a million percent worth wearing as a minimum!
I like to go to town with high vis (even though I never hack out in limited visibility and I’m always back at the yard before dark). I have pink and yellow Equisafety waistcoats (which have massively useful zip pockets) as standard. I also have a fantastic pink coat which I was given so I’m not sure where it came from which is great for the winter (and school trips). My flashing LED breastplate also came from Equisafety – although I don’t use it often, it is quite a fun but functional addition to Pea’s hacking wardrobe.
So there we go. A lecture from Poppy. But seriously, safe IS cool.