Horseback Riding Safety

Hey, sports fans. Let”s start out with a little quiz. The main reason to wear a safety helmet when riding is:

a) to protect your ears

b) to keep the sun out of your eyes

c) to prevent heat loss through your scalp

d) to protect from TBI

If the answer wasn”t obvious, then you”ve probably never used the acronym TBI: it stands for Traumatic Brain Injury. It”s why motorcyclists wear helmets, and why kids who ride bicycles, skateboards and scooters should. If you don”t know the effects of TBI, you owe it to yourself to read up on it. Besides taking your life, a serious blow to the head can have devastating effects, such as the loss of your job, your academic talent, your memory and your dignity. (By the way, if you answered (a) you might be interested in knowing that ears are among the least injured body parts in equestrian sports.)

Keep Your Boots On!

A boot with a good heel is a must to keep your foot from slipping through the stirrups. Rodeo riders in sports where falling off and being dragged are likely incidents tend to buy boots that are on the large side so their foot will slip out easily.

Tack Safety

Make sure your tack is in excellent condition. You”ll probably crash and burn if a rein snaps in the middle of a jump. Keep leather supple and protected from moisture.

Professional Riding Advice

Get lessons from a professional. You can”t practice horseback riding safety by reading a book and looking at pictures. In a split second, your horse can rip a ligament or break a bone. You owe it to your mount to practice horseback riding safety.

Use Caution in Choosing a Riding Location

Ride in safe areas. Avoid busy roads and blind curves. Horses spook easily when passed by cars, particularly those bearing noisy, irresponsible passengers.

Horse Health

Keep your horse healthy by providing appropriate nutrition, regular medical checkups, and make sure that saddles, bridles, and other tack are appropriately padded and adjusted. Fit is also important as some saddles will not work on some body types. A horse might be put out of commission for weeks if ill fitting tack causes excessive rubbing that can lead to pain and lesions.

Stay Alert When Riding

Strive to stay alert and attentive at all times when riding or working with your horse. Be aware of the environment, the horse”s behavior and your own responses. If you”re tired or if your perception is otherwise impaired, please do not ride or work your horse.

Dogs and Kids

As much as possible, keep dogs and small children away from your horse. Biting, yapping, nipping, lunging and chasing are all things that dogs love to do when they play with other dogs. This type of behavior cannot be tolerated around horses. Horses, dogs and even people have been known to get hurt when a horse is startled by the antics of dogs at play. Small children must be watched carefully. They do not realize that their fingers could be nipped or their toes stepped on if they aren”t careful. Likewise, plopping a baby alone on a saddle for a photo is rarely a good idea.

Protect yourself and your horse with insurance. For more information on equine insurance, contact your regional professional equestrian organization.