Equestrian Blog

News and thoughts from around the equestrian community

Beginner's Basics

There is an amazing selection of equestrian clothing available now, however if you are a more novice rider how do you know what to buy? I often get asked why can't I buy a cheap second hand hat, why do my legs slide on the saddle as I ride, why can't I ride in wellies they look like riding boots, why do the reins hurt my hands? This and many other questions may seem extremely silly and have an obvious answer to the seasoned horse owner or experienced rider. For someone new to riding though, the equestrian world is daunting and often appears unfriendly. The obvious person to ask for advice is your Instructor, unfortunately it is often the case especially with children, that you are slightly scared of that person who stands in the middle of the school shouting at you at the top of their voice! Don't be, they are only being loud so their instructions are clear and easy to understand. Try speaking to them after your lesson to get any extra tips or advice you feel you need, whatever problem your having, someone else will have had it too. Any good Instructor should be able to give you advice on equipment and clothing that will help your riding. How do you know what to buy when the time comes to get your first full riding kit though? The answer's simple, request a Robinsons catalogue or browse online and buy jodhpurs, boots, and hat. That's all isn't it? If that was the case the Robinsons catalogue would be very small indeed! How on earth then can an enthusiastic new rider know what to select from the huge selection of riding gear on offer. Here's how... THE BASICS Why can't I buy a second hand hat? Riding Hat This is possibly the most important item of kit, but is often one of the last things a new rider will buy. Although jodhpurs and boots can make you look more like a rider I would always advise that the first item of equipment you buy is your own riding hat. When you learn that it is advisable to replace a riding hat after any fall that has involved the rider's hat sustaining any significant impact, you start to realise that a borrowed hat from your riding school is not quite as suitable as you first thought. You don't know anything about how many falls that hat has sustained, it is vitally important that the shell of a hat is not damaged in any way, as this can affect the protection it offers. Invest in your own hat as soon as you possibly can when you take up riding so you know its complete history. Check before buying your hat though to see what level of protection you will need as various organisations have different rules. Any hat you buy should have a three point under the chin harness with NO chin cup, it should meet at least one of the following safety standards; EN1384, PAS015, ASTM F1163/SEI and may also need to have a Kitemark. It is worth knowing that although riding hats are a recognised piece of safety equipment they are still subject to VAT, although interestingly cycling helmets no longer are. The BHS are trying to change this, if you'd like to add your name to this campaign please write to BHS Safety Department, Stoneleigh Deer Park, Kenilworth, Warwickshire, CV8 2XZ, or email S.Hardy@bhs.org.uk with VAT in the subject box. Why do my legs slide on the saddle as I ride? Jodhpurs/Breeches Jodhpurs are designed to be worn with short jodhpur boots, they tend to be long in the leg and have a small turn up at the ankle which stretches over the top of your jodhpur boot. They will also often have an inbuilt elastic underfoot stirrup to help prevent the jodhpurs rising up. Jodhpur clips will also stop the leg of your jodhpurs slipping above your boot, this can be very uncomfortable, often resulting in rubbed and chafed ankles. Breeches are shorter in the leg, normally mid to lower calf length, they should be worn with long riding boots. The shorter length means you don't have excess material around your ankle which can be uncomfortable with long boots. For a more novice rider I'd always recommend that they choose a pair of jods or breeches with a full clarino or 'sticky bum' seat. All this means is the seat area is made from a special material that does not slide on the saddle quite as much as normal material. For someone learning to ride this extra little bit of security in the saddle is invaluable. Why can't I ride in wellies, they look like riding boots? Boots Although wellies and standard boots can look very similar to riding footwear there are some fundamental differences which seriously affect their safety. The main reason why these aren't suitable riding wear is the depth of tread on the sole, riding footwear should have a fairly thin sole, with a small amount of tread to prevent the foot getting caught in the stirrup in the event of a fall. Also avoid any boots with buckles or velcro as the same can happen with these. Although a heel is required on riding boots, it should be no more than about 1/2" in height. You initially need to decide between long riding boots and jodhpur boots, this is mainly your own personal preference. Long boots offer more support to your leg but some people find them uncomfortable and too restrictive. Jodhpur boots allow more ankle movement but you may find you need some extra protection from the stirrup leather. Long riding boots are available in economical rubber or quality leather. Both have advantages and disadvantages, rubber are cheap, hard wearing and waterproof but they can be inflexible and hot. Leather are expensive and high maintenance, but they allow easy flexion of the ankle. Jodhpur boots are particularly useful in summer months as they tend to be cooler than long boots. However the lack of support around the calf and lower leg can result in bruising and pinching from stirrup leathers. This can eased by wearing half chaps or gaiters. Technical stirrup systems have been developed which include the SCS3 system from Mountain Horse, this is a system of grooves built into the sole of the boot and on the SCS3 stirrup tread. When these grooves interact, they prevent the foot slipping forward in the stirrup but allow the rider to pull their foot back easily. Four grooves in the sole give a choice of foot position depending on exactly where you prefer the foot to sit in the stirrup. There are many other items of riding kit available and I'll go into these in more detail in my next blog but I hope this has helped you in your choice of essentials. Remember to always make your equestrian purchases based on the highest protection you can afford rather than the prettiest product. Whilst horse riding is an enjoyable hobby it can also be a high risk sport. �

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