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High visibility and reflective safety wear clothing and equipment for riders when horse riding on the road

Updated on December 15, 2011

As the traffic increases on our roads, horse and rider safety becomes much more important. Every year riders and their horses are killed, along with other road users. This is not always the rider’s fault, nor is it always the fault of the driver of the other vehicle. As a rider using the public highway it is your responsibility to make sure that you are as safe as possible, and in doing so this means making yourself as visible as possible to other road users. As a rider I know how unpredictable a horse can be when confronted by a fast moving vehicle and a slower moving vehicle with his engine revving hard, however, many of the drivers on our roads have never sat on a horse to experience this and as such expect the rider to be in full control or their horse at all times (if only).

be safe on the road

The countryside scenario

You are wearing your best black riding boots and jods and your favourite navy blue hacking jacket or waterproof yard coat.  You tack up your horse with his usual black bridle/saddle and boots and you head out for a well earned and needed hack. You are happily trotting along the country road enjoying the views with the winter sun beating down on your back when the birds suddenly fly out from the hedgerow in front as a car comes round the approaching bend travelling quite fast. It brakes sharply and swerves to avoid a collision, only to end up parking itself in the hedgerow. Your horse is now going down the road sideways threatening to buck and rear (not your favourite choice of manoeuvres) but you manage to half control your horse while shouting various amounts of verbal abuse at the driver for travelling too fast along the country lanes. Eventually horse under control you dismount to find the driver of the car unconscious with a nasty looking cut on his head. You ask yourself “How did this happen?Could it have been prevented?”

Unfortunately this scenario is not uncommon, with drivers frequently being blamed for accidents involving horses and their riders, of which a high percentage could have been prevented had the rider been wearing appropriate clothing.

As a horse rider it is very easy to just tack up your horse, put your riding hat and boots on and head off out for a good hack on the country roads. Unfortunately, most tack and rider clothing is dark in colour, being either black/brown or navy, this makes it very difficult for other traffic uses to notice you. There are lots of ways now that can make you safer on the road when out hacking and having fun.

High visibility clothing for the rider

High visibility safety clothing for riders

When you put your riding clothes on think carefully about where you will be riding and how visible you will need to be to other road users. Remember cars and especially motorbikes travel much faster than you and therefore have much less time to react to situations such as an approaching horse and rider. Here are some ways in which can make yourself as the rider more visible.

  1. Put reflective strips around your riding hat, or invest in a high visibility cover for your skullcap.
  2. Wear a high visibility jacket or waistcoat
  3. LED’s are available for both tabards and riding hats.
  4. Lights can be attached to your riding boots so that cars can see you better in a dull light.

road safety by young rider
road safety by young rider

High visibility tack for horses

It is easy to think that you only need to worry about making yourself more visible, but there are also many ways in which you can make your horse more visible, here are a few ideas.

  1. Instead of putting your usual exercise rug on him, use a high visibility exercise rug/wrap around.
  2. Put high visibility straps on the reins.
  3. High visibility nosebands are a great idea, so that oncoming traffic sees you sooner.
  4. High visibility leg boots
  5. High visibility tail bandages/tail guards
  6. LED’s are available to attach on the saddle, legs and tail guards.

Now that you have all the reflective equipment that you need to be seen and be safe, why not look into attending a road safety course. The BHS (British Horse Society) runs a riding and road safety test which helps educate riders in road safety. The test is available for all riders over the age of 12 and is supported by the department of transport. This test is not compulsory but is advised as it is the only test that may help save not only your life, but that of your horse and other road users.


Reflective horse riding equipment for rider and horse


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    • nasus loops profile image

      nasus loops 6 years ago from Fenland

      Hi Rachel

      Thanks for commenting on my hub. I am pleased you enjoyed it and found the information useful.

    • profile image

      Rachel Harris 6 years ago

      This is a great article. Now that it is summer, I really have wanted to ride my horse outside more. I've been really scared because I don't want to get hit my a motorist. I found this site that has great high visibility clothing: Good luck riding!

    • nasus loops profile image

      nasus loops 6 years ago from Fenland

      Hi Jacmo. thanks for dropping by and reading my hub. I am pleased that you found this good advice.

    • profile image

      Jacmo 6 years ago

      This is a very good point. Most riders are hard to see. We live in a rural area and run across riders now and then and they hardly stand out. Good advice.

    • nasus loops profile image

      nasus loops 7 years ago from Fenland

      Hi Anne.

      Thank you for your comment, I am pleased you liked the advice. As you say the colours of riding apparel are very much earth tones in and I find it strange that these colours have not changed since my time of riding some 10-20 years ago.

    • Anne Coyle profile image

      Anne Coyle 7 years ago from Bronxville, NY

      Sad, but true. Much of the riding apparel we enjoy features earth tones that can be difficult to see out on the road, especially on overcast days. I love your advice about adding reflective strips. They are an inexpensive addition to riding boots, the back of your English saddle, and other equestrian equipment. An ounce of preventative reflective strips is certainly worth the investment.

    • nasus loops profile image

      nasus loops 8 years ago from Fenland

      Hi Carmen

      I am pleased you liked the hub. I hope people will read this hub and use it to make themselves safer on the road.

    • profile image

      Carmen 8 years ago

      GREAT ideas. Very good information. I believe there is always ways to help make us safer. Thanks for the wonderful article :)