If you've recently decided to take up horseback riding, you're probably thrilled and a little nervous at the same time. Riding horses is great fun, but the activity is not without its risks. Fortunately, strategies exist for minimizing the chances of being injured while enjoying a pleasant ride. Here are three things that you should know about staying safe around horses:
Approach the Horse at Its Shoulder
Horses have wide-set eyes with both monocular and binocular vision -- their monocular vision allows them to see different objects with each eye at the same time, and their wide-set eyes allow them to have an almost 360-degree field of vision. However, horses also have a blind spot that prevents it from seeing you if you approach it directly from the front. Other blind spots are the areas around their legs and feet and directly behind them, and they also have poor depth perception. Because horses evolved as prey animals, they're hardwired to go into fight-or-flight response in the event they feel threatened. Approaching a horse at the shoulder while speaking in soothing tones lets it know that you aren't a predator.
Wear Protective Clothing Designed for Riding
Always wear protective gear designed for riding, even when going on a short ride. Helmets are particularly important -- most riding injuries involve the head. Remember, if you suddenly fall from the horse, it can't see the area around its feet and may inadvertently end up kicking you in the head. Be sure to wear a helmet any time you are around your horse even when you are not actually riding. You should also wear hard-toed shoes or boots to protect your feet in case the horse steps on them. Safety vests are another essential piece of gear that should be in every equestrian's closet -- these can help protect your torso in the event of a fall. Wearing a mouth guard minimizes chances of injury to the teeth, and a good pair of riding gloves helps keep riders safe by promoting a better grip on the reins.
Ride With a Friend
It's never a good idea for even experienced equestrians to go trail riding on their own, so be sure to rid. with a friend. If none of your friends ride, look around for local equestrian clubs that you can join. Even if you confine your riding to your home paddock, it's always a good idea to have someone else around.
Talk to a company that sells horse riding protective clothing for more information and assistance.