I have ridden horses for 22 years and have had my own for 18 years so I have a vast selection of horse riding equipment. You tend to find out as you go along which brands work for you.
To start with the beginner only needs to worry about what they wear on their feet and head (most riding schools will provide a hat for you though).
Your foot wear should fit well around your heel and instep as if not, it will affect the position of your foot. They should have a slight heel to prevent your foot from slipping through the stirrup. The shoe or boot should also support your ankle. Rubber riding boots can be bought cheaply for about £20 and are available in most horse shops. I personally use wellies for working around the yard and have special boots for riding in. My riding boots are made of leather and have a steel toe cap and reinforced ankles. The ankle support is particularly important to me as a few years ago I got off my pony on a slope and my ankle gave way as I landed. It I didn't have my riding boots on my ankle would have snapped. My boots are made by Mark Todd and set me back £60 but they were on sale from £95. You can also buy shorter jodphur boots if you prefer.
To start with you will be ok riding in material made of course fabric to stop you sliding around in the saddle. You can buy jodphurs from £20 or breeches (shorter jodphurs that finish at the calf and should be worn with long boots) for a bit more. Both items have reinforced patches over the knees to prevent the stirrup leathers from pinching you. These items are not flattering for the even slightly larger figure and as I ride with a western saddle I ride in jeans as I find these the most comfortable.
You should wear a t-shirt or jumper that is comfortable for you and is suitable for the weather conditions. A waterproof coat is very useful too. Jewellery should not be worn for safety purposes. If you wear glasses, make sure they fit properly and don;t move about or need adjusting regularly as this will break your concentration.
If you are under 14, it is illegal to ride without a hat and I personally believe it is very silly to do it anyway. It is so easy to come off even on a quiet horse unexpectidly and who wants brain damage or a fractured skull!! You can choose from a traditional riding hat (normally covered with a velvety material) or a skull cap and silk in the colour of your choice. The strap should always be done up otherwise you might as well not be wearing the hat in the first place. If you are going to buy a riding hat, expect to pay about £50 for a decent one (mine is made by Just Togs and cost £45) and ask a member of staff in the shop you buy it from to make sure it fits. A coloured silk to go over a skull cap will be about £10. There is nothing worse than riding for an hour in a hat that is squeezing your head or moving about. The safest standard for a hat is PAS 015, 1994 & 1998. The other approved standards are BSEN 1384, 1997, EN 1384, 1996 and ASTM F1163, 1998 (American Safety Standard). A new hat should be bought if you fall off or drop your hat as it may be cracked inside even if you can't see it.
You may need a whip depending on your horse. These are used to back up your leg aid not to beat the horse. They range in length from short jumping whips to 48" schooling whips and range in price from £3 to £50. I usually pay about £8 for a decent schooling whip.
If you are going to jump then you need a good body protector in case you fall off. They come in 3 levels of protection:
- Level 1 (black label) provides the lowest level of protection that is only considered appropriate for licensed jockeys while racing.
- Level 2 (brown label) offers a lower than normal level of protection so is considered suitable for low risk situations - not including jumping, riding on theroads, riding young or excitable horses or riding while inexperienced.
- Level 3 (purple label) is considered appropriate for general riding, competitions including eventing and working with horses. Level 3 body protectors should prevent minor bruising that wouldhave produced stiffness and pain, reduce soft tissue injuries and prevent a limited number of rib fractures.
Body protectors come in lots of funky colours these days and are alot more comfortable than the ones I used to compete in that made you feel like you were wearing a turtle shell and restricted your movement. The BETA 2000 and 2009 Body Protector Standard meets all the requirements of the European standard (EN 13158:2000). A revised edition of the BETA 2000 and 2009 standard was published and adopted by BETA in April 2009. The BETA 2000 and 2009 version will continue as a current stanard for the next 2 years. There is a separate BETA Standard for shoulder protectors. Research showed that during 50 falls onto the shoulder during eventing competitions revealed that among the 30 riders not wearing shoulder protection, there were six broken collarbones and two dislocated shoulders, but no fractures among the 20 fallers who were wearing shoulder protectors to BETA Level 3. Expect to pay about £100 for a good body protector but remember it can prevent internal injuries that may kill you.
The horse will need a minimum of a bridle, complete with bit (if one is going to be used) and a saddle. Bridles come in normal or double but a double bridle should only be used by an experienced rider with good, light hands who understands how the use of the bit works with the horse. A good quality leather bridle will set you back about £30 and can go up to over the hundreds depending on the quality of the leather. The horse you ride will depend on what kind of bit you need to use. My pony is ridden in a Myler bit as I believe they are the kindest for her and cost me £50. A normal snaffle will be about £10-15 though. Bits can easily go up to over the hundreds again though. A normal general purpose saddle that is good quality will be about £300 now and you will also need to pay a saddle fitter (about £35) to make sure the saddle fits well. This will need to be checked whenever the horse changes shape or grows, normally twice a year. You can easily pay £3000 for a specialised dressage or jumping saddle if you are compeing at high level though. I ride in a western saddle as my pony is quite round and I find it hard to keep an English saddle in place on her. It cost me £250. Stirrups need to be the right size for your feet so that your foot doesn't get stuck or slip through it in case of a fall. They will cost about £15 as will a decent set of stirrup leathers. Stirrup leathers come in different lengths and attach your stirrups to the saddle. Girths come in many different forms and cost from about £10. I prefer a humane girth which has the 2 straps attached through a D ring so that they move independantly when I am riding in an English saddle as they pinch less. The horse may require a numnah or saddle pad to soak up any sweat from his back. I use a woollen one with my western saddle and they need washing regularly. They cost from as little as £5.
There are numerous boots on the market for the horse that may need to be used depending on what you are doing with the horse. Here are a few examples:
- Brushing boots protect the horse knocking the inside of one leg with the opposite boot
- Tendon boots protect the back on the foreleg from being cut into by the back hoof when the horse is jumping or working at speed.
- Fetlock boots are used on the hind legs to prevent the inside of the fetlock (the joint above the hoof) from being knocked by the opposite hoof.
- Over reach boots prevent the horse standing on the front heels with the hind feet or standing on the front shoes and ripping them off.
You may prefer to use bandages instead but these need to be well fitted as do boots to prevent rubs or pressure sores. Boots start at about £10 and bandages at about £15 for 4. Boots can be made of different materials too which will impact on the cost. I use leather boots on my pony as they are easy to clean. Her open fronted tendon boots cost £60 and her fetlock boots cost £55. They have interchangable linings, one of sheepskin and the other of neoprene so that when one is being washed I can use the other and the sheepskin doesn't have to get wet.
All of your horse's tack should be regularly cleaned and inspected to check for wear and tear or loose stitching. It is worth paying the most you can afford for any horsey item as it will last longer if taken care of.
If you decide to compete then you are looking at yet more money. If you are going to do inhand showing, you will need a Beagler hat and this is over £100, a clean shirt and matching tie (mine cost £60 for the two but hunt around in charity shops), a waistcoat (£40), smart trousers (I got mine for £8 on eBay) and smart shoes (I use my £40 jodhur boots). For ridden showing, you will need a show hat (£100ish again), a shirt and either a tie or stock (depending on the class you enter), a jacket in the correct colour for your class (£50 upwards for a black or navy one and £85 upwards for a decent tweed one), jodphurs or breeches and long boots with spurs and a leather strap around the top for adults or jodphur boots and jodphur clips if under 16 (I use my jodphur boots and leather chaps which cost £110 but a good set of leather riding boots can easily set you back £300). Dressage will require you to wear the same kind of thing as showing as will showjumping (body protector is useful too). If you are going cross country you should wear long boots for protection, jodphurs, a cross country shirt in colours of your choice (about £20), a body protector and a skull cap with a silk to match your shirt. Hunting involes clothes similar to showing too. Wow
I thought maybe I'd wax lyrical on a subject close to my heart - Riding hats and other safety equipment. Why? Because quite simply, in my opinion, if you're going to ride a horse, you need to be properly protected. Not matter how old, young, inexperienced, experienced, wild, brave or trusting of your mount you are, horses are wildly unpredictable animals and even the best can have a good old freak out. Your head is far too important to risk. Bones heal, grey matter doesn't.
Riding helmets have to be worn in most UK riding establishments that are run as a business. I urge you, if you're looking to start out in riding or even if you're an old hand, if you visit a stables and there's someone riding without a hat on - walk away. Likewise, if the horses are in bad condition or you feel the atmosphere is off, just turn around and don't bother going back (obviously, in cases where there is obvious abuse going on, report it first!). They also have to be worn in competition, however the level of protection required varies from type of competition; dressage to a high level allows (nay, expects) you to wear a top hat that is fitted correctly to your head; traditional and presumably your dressage stallion is well enough trained at Grand Prix level not to play around with you! This isn't always the case though, of course. In show jumping or cross country you'll be expected to wear a skull cap and many major shows have regulations on what kite mark and BSN your hat must be at. Pony Club in particular is very hot on the safety level of your hat! Polo players wear hats with protective grills, much like american football helmets.
However, a riding hat is only as good as it's fit - old traditional circles will tell you that if a hat fits properly, it will stay on even if the straps aren't done up and there is a grain of truth in that, however it's not something I'd want to test with my head. To be certain that you've got the right fit with your hat, you should get it fitted in store at a tack shop by a trained hat fitter (yes, there are courses for it!). I really don't mind whether or not you then leave the shop and buy it online cheaper; I'd personally never buy a hat where I couldn't be certain that it hadn't been drop kicked across a delivery floor! To check quickly whether your hat fits, unbuckle it and get someone to lift it slowly off your head. If there's a decent amount of resistance, then it's pretty secure. If you get a headache when wearing it, then it's likely to be too tight - however I've been fitted with hats before that initially gave me a headache the first few times I rode in them, but were 'broken in' essentially afterwards and fitted perfectly.
Fashion wise, you can get a wide range of hats, covers and styles. Personally, I'm a fan of the 'GPA' style vented hat - price here comes into play more than with other hats as the more expensive (most expensive I've seen was just shy of £1000) vented hats tend to vent better, whereas the lower price ones are purely decorational or just don't work. These are commonly seen on showjumpers! For cross country riding and racing, you'll wear a jockey skull cap with a silk cover, normally matching your silk colours/patterns. The simple reason for this is silks don't have a fixed peak and so if your horse over rotates and smashes down on you or cracks you with their neck, your neck and nose are not forced backwards and you're less likely to break them. Silks can be bought cheaply and jockey skulls are the cheapest kind of hat there is.
A few points to remember when hat shopping:
- Always buy new. Don't take chances with your head! Even if you can vouch for every owner that's had that hat.
- Try to buy in store where you can.
- Check the kitemark and BSN number. These are very important; they're the quality tests and safety levels of the hat.
- Price does tend to denote quality, but not always.
- Get it fitted to your head!
It's worth noting that it's not just when riding that you should be wearing a hat. Visit any decently sized livery yard and there will always be at least one person who has a story of someone who didn't wear their hat. Mine is quite simple. A girl at my stables was turning out her trusted steeds one winter evening, when a scrap broke out in the herd in the field. Because she was leading two horses at once, she didn't have a free hand to shoo the offending trouble maker away, and her cob lashed out with his back feet first, and then with his front. Unfortunatly for her, as he reared he caught the top of her head with his front feet and knocked her unconcious. She was found face down in the mud with considerable head injuries that would have been prevented had she been wearing a helmet. There are many other stories of people who have been killed or seriously injured when handling horses without wearing a hat and it's just not worth the risk.
I could go on about how important a well fitting hat is when riding and handling horses, but in all honesty, you'll either wear one or you won't. I hope this review has helped any riding newcomers be more informed when they choose their helmets and maybe provided a little entertainment?!
My daughter has recently taken up horse riding and like any new thing a child starts until you know for certain that they are going to enjoy the activity you don't wish to commit to heavily into buying specialist items. However certain things are a must for safety and necessity - this review consists of reviewing two products only which I have found to be excellent and not too expensive - considering the price levels of some items on the market.
Jodphur boots - on booking the first lesson we were advised that footwear such as trainers would not be acceptable for riding as the solve needed to have a defined heel, walking boots or school shoes (!!!) might be ok whilst we established whether we wished to proceed with lessons. Duly noted we took this on board - but persevered to find some cheap jodphur boots also. Tesco have an equestrian range but at over £22.75 (excluding delivery) for a pair of boots I felt I could find a pair cheaper.
Much googling brought me to the website www.bluepony.co.uk where you can buy a pair of childs Hasley jodphur boots for £15.99. There was a delivery charge of £4.95, bringing the total to £20.94, they were ordered on the Sunday 4th Oct and despatched on the 5th Oct and were in my hands on the 6th October. A fantastic delivery. The boots in question are of great sturdy quality and fit a treat.
My second item is the riding hat. Traditional riding hats come in traditional hat sizes and with a childs head constantly growing having to replace hats can be an expensive game. A solution for this is found with the "design a Polly Hat 4 Kidz". This product provides a riding hat that can fit heads from 48cm to 52cm (it achieves this via an adjustable dial at the back of the hat just like a cycle helmet). The hat is certified to BS EN 1384-1997, and is both modern and lightweight. It also comes with its own blue carry bag and stickers so you can customise the hat if you wish (more aimed at girl riders I felt). Aswell as the dial adjustment there is also a 3 point under-the-chin strap to ensure that the hat also stays on the head. Despite being "plastic" in appearance this hat really does look the part but if it is a concern hat covers can be bought in a range of colours too.
This hat was bought for £19.99. And on the www.pollyproducts.co.uk website there is a document listing all the stockists of their products. There are also other polly hats for juniors and adults that go beyond the size range of this hat.
I bought an appaloosa last september and she had the remains of sweet itch, so as the spring got closer I decided to have a search around for the best rug for her to try and prevent this from happening again. I was a bit worried about buying just a standard fly rug as my other horse wears them once and gets them off in the field and tears them to pieces!!!
After a few recommendations from my instructor and other people on the yard I went for the rambo sweet itch hoody. A little on the pricey side (around £90) I was hoping it would do the job. As with all horseware (rambo) rugs it fits brilliantly and stays in place in the field. The fastenings are very strong and durable and the rugs fits all the way up the neck and over the ears. It has an extra long tail flap and soft fabric around chest and mane area to prevent rubbing.
Even though my horse has ripped the rug in places she still has a mane which hasn't been rubbed out. It is brilliant and it worked to stop her itching and getting irritated by the midges. I would recommend this rug to anyone with a horse that gets irritated by flies and scratches or sweet itch.
This review is slightly different in that the section which describes how this item feels to wear and use is reliant on the experience of my 10 year old son. For me to try the item on would require a slimmer of the year performance, a Tom Hanks Big style transformation and my developing the ability to ride. Not going to happen.
The progression of my son into a jumping class prompted a mad scramble to purchase some protective gear and of the three brands tried on in the shop the Junior body protector made by Just Togs was the best fit and seemed to offer the best protection.
The Just Togs body protector is a lightweight although slightly bulky garment. It is made up of three sections, a back section and two front chest protectors. Each section has a poly cotton covering containing moulded foam sections which provide the protection. The sections are joined by three layers of Velcro, which allows the protector to be adjusted to fit correctly, and also each section can be detached for easy cleaning. On the inside of the protector is a mesh lining to allow the suit to breath and help keep the rider cool. The back section also includes a tail section, which is adjustable to ensure that the lower spin is protected without hindering the rider. In addition to the Velcro there is a front strap with an easy release clip to prevent the protector slipping and a front zip for easy fitting and removal. My one concern about this garment is the zip which does not seem to be very strong, the rest of the garment is extremely robust however from my experience with diving suits the zip is one of the most important parts and often the one most likely to perish, time will tell whether my fears are justified in this instance.
So to the important part how is it in use? At first Nathan was concerned that the bulky feel would hinder his riding however after ten minutes of use he said that he hardly realised it had it on, in his words it felt like it was sticking to his t-shirt, this may be the moulding effect that the literature refers to as the foam layers adjust to the body. I was also concerned that he would get hot wearing the protector, coupled with the fact that the riding lessons now involve a lot more work from rider and horse however again he has not felt hot wearing the item. The ultimate test will come when the protector is put to use in a fall, thankfully that time has yet to arise however it did stand up very well to the crafty punch his sister delivered when he first tried it on.
Importantly this protector is a level 3 garment that meets The British Equestrian Trade Association standards highest level of protection grading.
Getting the right fit is vitally important as is getting the right advice from an experienced rider. The literature with the protector provides additional advice on how it should be worn and fitted.
The junior version comes in five different sizes and in three colours; black, navy, and black watch tartan. It is also machine washable and easy wipe clean.
The retail price on the Just Togs website is £65.00 however we bought it locally for £60.00.
Just Togs website
I ADORE this rug! The fit is amazing, not once have i seen it slip, rub or move in any way even when my boy rolls! I find it has just the right amount of filling (170g) for them cold yet not artic days. It has shoulder gussets which really help him when he's galloping round the field and really good, strong leg straps and surcingles. And all this for the bargain price of... well i bought mine for £60 but im just about to order another one for £48 so I guess around the £50 mark. I really do believe that this is the best medium weight turnout rug in its class and it comes in a really lovely lilac (which i've got!), Black (which im ordering!) and Navy to! Oh and I believe there is a matching neck cover available for about £30, although my cob doesn't really need that. Hope this helps.
This rug has proven excellent with the erratic summer weather we have had and has kept my horse clean and dry. The lightweight version comes in 2 great colours, bright blue and dark blue check, both of which look good and make spotting your horse in the field easier! They retail at about £50 and i think they are value for money. They have 2 straps at the front and velcro fastening that are easy to use, although as my horse has highish withers i could not do up the velcro without it being too tight so i just use the straps. Fine as i use an under bib anyway as he has sensitive skin but other horses this would irritate-i would recommend measuring the lenghth between wither and front of chest and comparing this with the rug before you buy-then again my horse has high withers and a bigger rug would have been too long. It has 2 cross surcingles and leg straps. I found the legs straps a bit fiddly at first to get the right length but then i do with any rug! It also has a tail flap and the rug is seamless along the top which means he really stays dry all over. It has managed to stay in place even when he has obviously rolled around as he has come back covered in mud-or at least the rug did! The only other thing i found was that as the tail flap is quite long on him at least, the leg straps do get covered in horse poo quite a bit! It is a nice sturdy rug which is great for those summer showers especially if your horse is out all night. I think it would be too hot on warm days even if its raining-i think it needs to be a little lighter in material, but he has not sweated excessively in it and he has not got any rubs either Overall i would recommend this rug for the quality and its price compared to others
As the winter approached I decided my horse needed a new turnout rug as the one he was wearing was far too small for him, didn't keep the rain off, rubbed his chest, and was generally falling to bits! One of the problems associated with owning a big and we are talking BIG heavyweight horse is that most standard sized rugs simply do not fit. Just after Christmas I received a Sale Catalogue from Robinson's Country Leisure and came across a turnout rug that might just fit my horse; it was reduced from £85.95 to £70.00 (can't be bad). This was going to be a late Christmas present for him - and I am sure just what he wanted!! The first job was to measure him for his new rug. He had to be measured from the centre of his chest (where the front of the rug is) around his shoulder in a straight line to the point level with the top of his tail. This is easier said than done; imagine the two of us (hubby got the front end, I got the bum end (just me luck!))with a tape measure trying to measure an extremely large and very ticklish horse, who every time he felt the tape measure on his body, jumped all over the stable. One thing I have learned from experience is to keep well away from his hooves - if a Shire treads on your feet, you are limping for days! A winter turnout rug is worn to provide warmth and keep off the worst of the bad weather; it is especially useful to provide protection after a horse has been clipped. Traditional rugs are the New Zealand waterproof canvas rugs for outdoor use; but rugs are available nowadays in many different types of material, and are often lightweight, warm and easy to clean. The rug arrived ten days after placing the order. It is made from "PU-coated ballistic nylon" with a fleecy lining. It is a sea-green in colour and the webbing surcingles (straps that go under the tummy) are maroon as are the two breast straps. It is certainly a good fit - all 7ft 6ins of it, and has should
er gussets to allow freedom of movement. And what does my 15 year old think of his belated Christmas present - he much preferred the apples, carrots, polo mints, horse biscuits and mars bars(!!!!) that he received. The first time he wore the rug he found the only muddy patch in the field and rolled in it. So now it is sea-green with earthy blotches!
The Rambo collection of horse rugs are absolutely excellent and I would recommend these to any busy horse owner. With the Rambo rugs they are designed to be worn both indoor and outdoor. Being breathable the horse will not sweat should the temperature raise while being worn. They are also extremely warm and come in 3 different thicknesses. I use both the standard Rambo rug on my youngster, and the Rambo Wug (with the inbuild neck cover) for my older mare. The lining of the rug is shiny and when placed against the horses coat gives it a lovely shine (cut down on the grooming time too, as well as the changing rug time!!!). These rugs are priced at around £120 to £150 which may seem a lot at first , but when you consider the time they save and you only need one rug instead of 2, I have had my Wug now for 3 years and after being washed and reproofed looks as good as new. The fit lovely and never slip, no rubbed shoulders, they are warm but not heavy to wear for the horse , they are extremely light.