Safety in the Sad­dle

Trail Rider - - SPECIAL SECTION -

There’s no such thing as travel in­surance for trail rid­ers, but to­day’s equip­ment can make a huge dif­fer­ence to your safety and vis­i­bil­ity on the trail. • Cell­phone. If you carry your cell­phone on your rides, keep it on you (such as in a waist or an­kle pack) rather than in a sad­dle­bag. Then your phone will stay with you if you and your horse be­come sep­a­rated. Add a whis­tle in case you need to call for help out of sig­nal reach. • Hel­mets/hel­met ac­ces­sories. To­day’s rid­ing hel­mets are light­weight, ven­ti­lated, com­fort­able, and highly pro­tec­tive. Look for ASTM-ap­proved, SEI-cer­ti­fied head­gear. The Amer­i­can So­ci­ety for Test­ing and Ma­te­ri­als (www. astm.org) tests and sets the stan­dards for (www.seinet.org) cer­ti­fies hel­mets that meet the cur­rent safety stan­dards. Hel­met cov­ers in­clude wa­ter­proof, net­ting, and fleece mod­els. You can also add a vi­sor for eye­shade. • Rid­ing gloves. Gloves are es­sen­tial for trail safety, as you’ll likely han­dle branches, wire, and rocks. Well-made rid­ing gloves also al­low you to keep a good, safe, grip on the reins. In hot, sunny weather, gloves pro­tect your hands from burn­ing and blis­ter­ing. In cold weather, gloves help keep your hands warm and your fin­gers flex­i­ble. Po­larfleece gloves will keep your hands warm even if they’re wet. • Stir­rups/stir­rup ac­ces­sories. Wide, padded stir­rups pro­vide com­fort and safety on the trail. In­crease both fac­tors by adding a pair of tapaderos or hoods (to West­ern stir­rups) or toe cages (to English and en­durance-style stir­rups). Tapaderos will help keep your toes warm in win­ter, will pro­tect your stir­rups as well as your boots, and are the bet­ter choice if you’ll be rid­ing through tall grass and brush. Hooded stir­rups and toe cages are de­signed to pre­vent your foot from go­ing all the way through the stir­rup to de- crease the risk of be­ing dragged, should you fall. Break­away stir­rups can also help pre­vent a drag­ging. • Vis­i­bil­ity-en­hanc­ing gear. Re­flec­tive gear en­hances your vis­i­bil­ity to your rid­ing com­pan­ions, other trail users, and any­one who might come look­ing for you if you be­come lost or in­jured. Vis­i­bil­ity is also help­ful when you have to cross or ride on roads. You can in­crease your vis­i­bil­ity by wear­ing re­flec­tive or flu­o­res­cent cloth­ing. You can also hang re­flec­tive de­vices off your breast­col­lar, bri­dle, stir­rups, and even your horse’s tail. Glow sticks pro­vide gen­tle light to help il­lu­mi­nate a dark trail. At­tach glow sticks to your horse’s breast­col­lar and other tack. • Safety vest. If you’d like ad­di­tional body pro­tec­tion on the trail, con­sider an eques­trian safety vest. For com­fort, look for a model that’s flex­i­ble and ad­justable, with min­i­mal side pad­ding. Be­fore you go on a long trail ride, make sure your vest and sad­dle are com­pat­i­ble. A short vest of­fers less pro­tec­tion than a longer one, but be sure that the bot­tom back edge of your vest doesn’t bump an­noy­ingly against your sad­dle’s can­tle.

To­day’s rid­ing hel­mets are light­weight, ven­ti­lated, com­fort­able, and highly pro­tec­tive. Shown is the Equi-Lite Hel­met by In­ter­na­tional Hel­mets, avail­able from Tok­lat Orig­i­nals.

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