Safety when Riding

There are inherent risks involved in horse riding. The best behaved horse can be unpredictable at times and all manner of situations can frighten them. Accidents can happen at any time including within the riding centre. In our experience the following will help minimise accidents and injury.

Be honest about your riding ability

We rely on the information you provide us to match you with the right holiday so it is very important that you are open and honest about your riding. The description of your riding experience will be forwarded to the ride operator when we confirm your holiday.

But it is still your responsibility to ensure that the person who allocates your horse to you is aware of your riding ability and experience, particularly if you are less experienced.

If you have any doubt that your riding skills or fitness are not of the level required for your chosen holiday you should contact us immediately and if you are already on holiday then speak directly to the ride operator or guide. Your safety is paramount.

Get fit for your Holiday

Riding is a strenuous activity and some riding holidays are particularly strenuous involving many hours on horseback, in extreme temperatures and in remote locations. Many falls from horses are because the rider has become tired or too hot.

You should do as much riding as you can before your holiday to ensure you are fully fit. If for whatever reason you are not able to put in hours of riding, then we recommend other strenuous exercise such as hill walking, cycling or swimming. All of this will help your core strength and keep you safer when riding.

When on holiday it is your responsibility to drink plenty of water, with rehydration salts as necessary, to ensure you don't become dehydrated.

Wear a Riding Helmet

You must wear a hard hat/riding helmet when riding or around horses. We recommend for your own safety that you wear a hard hat that meets current safety standards. You should always replace your hat if you have had a fall and if you haven't had a fall, it is recommended that you replace your hat every 5 years.

Here are some links for more information:
Safety Standards Explained
Safety & Your Head
Guide to Riding Helmets

On some rides there may be hats to hire locally but you must not rely on these hats and you should always take your own. It is important that your hat fits properly. Some riders choose to wear a lightweight endurance style hat, such as made by Uvex, Troxel or Champion. Alternatively, wide brimmed covers in a range of materials which are designed to fit over a skull cap are available to purchase in the UK from Hatrick.

Consider wearing a Body Protector

If you wear a body protector when riding at home, then we recommend you take it with you on holiday where you will be riding a strange horse and perhaps over hard or stony ground.

Body protectors, and air jackets, are becoming more and more comfortable for many hours in the saddle. If you are an older rider, then a fall could have more serious implications for you which might be reduced by wearing a body protector.

For a full range of body protectors we recommend Treehouse.

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The following notes are reminders of best practice around horses, which we hope are helpful to all, including those who have been riding many years. Horses can be unpredictable and accidents can happen.  However, if safety precautions and common sense are used then serious mishaps can be prevented.

Basic Safety Guidelines for Handling Horses

  1. Always approach the horse from the side and speak to let him know you are there.  (The horse has two ‘blind’ spots – directly in front and behind him).
  2. Don’t make loud noises or sudden movements around horses.
  3. When walking round the back of the horse leave plenty of room.
  4. When working around the horse (ie grooming or tacking up) stay close to the horse so that, in the unlikely event that the horse kicks, you will not receive the full impact.
  5. Never wrap the lead rope or reins around your hand.
  6. When leading the horse into a stable, always turn the horse towards you at the door before taking the headcollar off.
  7. When turning a horse out in a field or paddock, always turn the horse’s head towards the fence before taking the headcollar off.  If more than one horse is being turned out, leave plenty of room between each horse and ensure everyone removes the headcollars at the same time.
  8. If you are not happy working around the horse (ie picking up feet), or are unsure of what has been asked of you (ie tacking up or untacking), ask for help.
  9. Always wear sensible footwear around horses.
  10. Remember that jewellery (especially earrings, rings and necklaces) can get caught and could cause injury.
  11. Always make sure loose clothing is buttoned / zipped up and cannot flap and frighten your horse.

Basic Riding Safety and Etiquette

Riding safety and etiquette is a combination of common sense, good manners and respecting the horses and riders around you.

  1. You must wear a hard hat/riding helmet (even if the guide or other riders are not wearing one). Your hat should meet current international safety standards.
  2. When you are riding you are more than a passenger.  Be aware of your horse, what you are doing and where you are riding at all times.
  3. Always listen to the guide’s instructions and obey them.  They are for your safety.
  4. Never pass the guide, unless he/she has said you may do so.  Stay at the pace set by the guide.
  5. When riding in a group, be aware of the other riders. Never ride off until all riders are mounted and ready.
  6. Do not allow your horse to get too close to the horse in front or you might get kicked.
  7. Do not suddenly cut in front of other horses, especially when cantering and jumping, or pass them at speed.
  8. As a courtesy to others, give verbal warnings for dangers (ie holes, low branches) and pass back messages clearly that the guide may have given.
  9. If you feel unsafe with the horse you have been provided with you must tell the guide at the earliest opportunity.
  10. Another your horse to use you or another horse as a rubbing post may result in a horse kicking out and causing injury.
  11. Horses can be startled by sudden movements.  Ensure saddle bags and coats are securely tied onto the saddle. Don’t throw things such as hats, coats and cameras to or from a horse.  Always dismount to remove or put on coats and jumpers etc.
  12. Horse riding is a physical activity.  The fitter you are, the less tired you will become and the more you will enjoy your holiday.
  13. If you are taking photographs or filming from horseback, always keep one hand on the reins. Taking photographs or filming when cantering can lead to accidents.