As a rider who spends a lot of time exercising my mare on the roads, being seen and standing out whilst we're hacking is something I feel quite passionate about. After coming across a few different conversations in regards to reflective wear in passing, it is quite apparent that although riders are more aware of the importance of being seen and less worried about the old fashioned stigmatism of not looking "cool" they are missing some major factors that need to be taken into consideration when choosing the appropriate reflective wear. Below are a few key points I would like to share with you.
If you own a light grey horse, yellow will be lost on them, pink & orange will stand out better. Apologies to all the geldings who will now be wearing pink!
Covered country lanes, open wide roads, or off road farmland. Wear what will stand out best against the colours you are riding through, weather it be grey roads, or lots of greenery.
If it's sunny, it doesn't make you and your horse easier to spot. If it's a dull day even more reason to be as bright as possible.
In the event of you both parting company, your horse could make his own way home without you. You wan't him to be seen right? It's easy to say, "it won't happen to me" but we are riding along public areas where we are unable to be in full control of our surroundings. 1. You will be seen far more easily if emergency services or friends are out looking for you. 2. Your horse has a far better chance of getting home safe if he does decide to head back home to his friends without you.
It's great if you can wear as much reflective wear as possible, but it's always good to consider sharing reflective wear with a friend if one of you are a bit sparse on your collection. The lead horse would benefit from a breast plate, front leg wraps, and a nose/browband cover (reflective). The horse behind would benefit from an exercise sheet if the weather permits, as well as leg wraps on the hinds.
I will confess as a young girl, I used to hack out with very little reflective wear, if any at all! Back then it wasn't "cool" or that "important". I loved my pony dearly and I'm ashamed of my attitude looking back. I spent lots of my pocket money on new things for my pony, but reflective wear seemed to take a back seat. I suppose it wasn't something that had a dedicated section to choose from in the local tack shop at the time. They mainly consisted of a flimsy tabard and the odd pair of leg wraps. It wasn't as though my friends were wearing it and I wasn't, none of us were! Never the less that is still no excuse. I find myself often saying to my friends now, "I would feel naked if I didn't have any reflective wear on."
1. Leg wraps, because of the motion of the horse walking they appear to flag up a lot quicker to me as a driver were they are lower down and more of a road users eye level. If the horse is wearing all four, you have total 360 visibility . 2. Reflective breast plate, lots of visible surface area on the horses chest from a front view. 3. Reflective exercise sheet, also great if you are the pair at the back of the ride. 4. Noseband or broadband reflective covers. 5. Reflective stirrup bands - side view. 6. Reflective rein covers. 7. Riders reflective jacket/gilet/tabard. 8. Riders reflective hat band.
Personally I am still adding to my collection of reflective wear for Lizzy and I. Still, I don't feel that we wear enough. I do understand that it can be an expense we put to one side. See it as more of an investment in your safety, and of it being just as important as your riding hat, body protector or air jacket.
If you decide to invest in reflective wear and worried about the cost, you could try spreading the cost by buying what would be your key components to your hi-viz kit. By key components, this is of course different for each individual horse and rider and something that you would need to decide for yourself. I would however, consider something hi-viz for you and your horse as a starting point, even if it's just one item for each of you.
Thank you for taking the time to read what I would call one of my most passionate blogs. I can only hope it has given you ideas and tips on staying bright whilst out hacking. I haven't yet mentioned lights...this is of course something I own. A flashing tabard for me, and a flashing breast plate for Lizzy. This however, is another blog post altogether which I will save for another day!
Safe happy hacking guys! Kirsty xx