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When you are going for a ride, it's important to choose the right basic equipment, the important safety equipment that will protect you should an accident occur. Equestrian sports sometimes involve risks, but there is a lot we can do to limit the risk of accidents and injuries. Learning to handle and understand the horse is one and choosing the right protective equipment is another. You don't need to have the latest equipment or specially adapted clothing and shoes in order to ride – but it is often easier if you use clothes and shoes that the market has developed specifically for the purpose.
We begin closest to the body. Choosing the right underwear can actually contribute to improving the riding session. It is important for women to have a good sports bra, this takes the strain off both the bust and the spine. Briefs and underpants should preferably not have any seams that can rub against you when sitting in the saddle.
It is easy to get warm when riding or working in the stables. This is why you should choose to wear some type of functional clothing closest to the body so that moisture is transported away and you do not become cold. The jumper or jacket you wear over this should also have the ability to wick moisture so that you keep warm and dry. It is good to have clothes that are soft and close-fitting as large and loose clothes are not recommended because you become clumsy in these and it is harder for your instructor to see how you are actually sitting. For jackets equipped with hoods, it is good if these can been easily removed as hoods can cause accidents if they become entangled in branches, for example, when you are out on a ride.
Riding breeches fit well, reduce the risk of blisters and, depending on the material, can also help you to sit better and have more stability in the saddle. Riding breeches are a little tighter in order to prevent unnecessary creases that could result in blisters. The seams on riding breeches are also placed where they will not cause discomfort. Riding breeches can been made from various materials – cotton, polyester, micropolyamide and elastane are commonly used.
Riding breeches can be full seat, knee-patch or completely unpadded. Full seat breeches generally provide a better grip on the saddle, while many people feel that they get deeper into the saddle with unpadded or knee-patch breeches.
Riding breeches are designed to be worn with riding boots, but they are now also used together with riding shoes and short chaps/gaiters. On the other hand, if you have jodhpurs, these are worn with riding shoes. Jodhpurs are somewhat straighter and a little wider at the bottom, many also have a foot strap that is placed under the foot to prevent the trouser leg riding up when you sit on the horse.
There are also various covers to provide protection and keep you clean, dry and warm. Chaps are a practical and simple to pull on over riding breeches, you can also take them off and put them on when you are sitting on the horse. The majority of chaps are made of suede or napa leather, but there are now some made of waterproof nylon and they work brilliantly in rain and foul weather.
Thermal riding breeches are also available for use in winter. These can either be pulled on over riding breeches or simply over thermal leggings, for example. The benefit of thermal riding breeches over normal salopettes is that they are usually equipped with zips that go the full length of the legs, making it easier to get them on and off, and that they normally have a full seat, giving you a better grip on the saddle.
Using gloves when you work with a horse or in the stables is a good way to protect your hands. It is really easy to "burn" your hands on the halter strap if you are leading a horse that is trying to get away. Use gloves that are as smooth as possible. Three-finger gloves are a good choice for winter riding.
You may sometimes need further assistance when riding; spurs and whips are available in various sizes and designs to suit both you and the horse. Neither spurs nor whips are intended to be used to punish the horse, rather they are for reinforcing/clarifying your aids. This is something that we should never forget. If you intend to compete, it is important that you check the competition rules to see what you are allowed to use.
Never leave your protective equipment sitting in the sun, on the parcel shelf in a car, for example, as the sun's rays can affect the material in the equipment.