Wouldn't be seen dead in it?
The BHS always recommends wearing hi-viz clothing when riding out, on or off the road, but we realise it is a matter of personal choice. It should be worn at all times when riding out, regardless of the time of day, season or weather conditions.
Wearing hi-viz when riding on the road can give vehicle drivers a valuable three seconds of extra reaction time that could save the life of both you and your horse. To put it into context, those three seconds are equivalent to a car, driven at 30 mph, travelling the length of a standard size dressage arena. There is no law that states riders must wear this equipment, but it is in their best interests to do so – not just because drivers will see them on the road earlier, but also so that they can be seen when they are riding off-road as well.
Research by the Ministry of Defence has shown that helicopter pilots can see a rider in hi-viz gear up to half a mile sooner so they can avoid flying straight over the top of them. It also means that in the unfortunate event that a rider is thrown from their horse and left in open countryside, the police helicopter or air ambulance will see them much sooner and hopefully prevent their injuries from becoming more serious.
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What to choose
The price of the equipment and clothing can vary, but there are some stylish jackets available or more simple tabards. It is a matter for you to choose how much clothing or equipment you and your horse wear. The BHS recommends as a minimum, a hi-viz jacket or tabard for the rider and leg bands on the horse. A hat band or hat cover is a useful addition. When choosing what colour to wear, think about the background you will be riding against. At certain times of the year, you could blend into the background or hedgerow wearing a certain colours. If you ride near fields of rape in bloom, it is best to avoid wearing yellow. Likewise, if you wear orange in autumn, then think whether you would stand out among the trees and hedges.
Many hi-viz garments now reach BSI approved standards, which shows they have been tested to approved levels for use. These standards are BSEN1150 or EN1150, aimed at use by leisure riders. Garments to this standard are available in fluorescent yellow, fluorescent pink, fluorescent orange, fluorescent red/orange, fluorescent green and through a spectrum of shades of these particular colours, all of which meet the respective BSI standard.
For professional use – such as when kit is issued by employers for use by their staff when they go out – the standard should be EN ISO 20471 (2013) and the colours are restricted to fluorescent yellow, fluorescent orange and fluorescent red/orange. If you look at road workers, railtrack workers, postmen and the emergency services, you will see these colours in the bulk of their personal protective equipment (PPE).
You can also choose to wear hi-viz accessories such as a lightweight harness, H-harness, hatband, or any other item designed to be worn on your person. These items should be certified to BS EN 13356 (2001) standard.
We would always recommend choosing clothing to a recognised standard.
Anything that is sold as a ‘safety garment’ is required to meet one of these standards, otherwise it is breaking the law. However, wearing anything light and bright is preferable to wearing dark clothing, particularly on a dark horse.
Be seen and be safer.
There are also many hi-viz products available designed to be worn on your horse or attached to their tack. There is currently no recognised standard for hi-viz horse accessories. It is well worth equipping your horse with some hi-viz items so he is still easily seen in the unfortunate event of a rider fall.
Some insurance companies will offer better premiums or benefits to riders if wearing hi-viz clothing when they ride out, particularly if involved in an accident. The minimum requirement is usually a tabard for the rider and leg bands on the horse, but you need to check the small print in your policy to confirm this. If there is nothing there, why not ask your insurance company if they will consider offering this? It will do you and other riders a favour.
Riding and Road Safety Test
If you're taking your BHS Riding and Road Safety Test, your horse will be required to wear a leg band on every leg, positioned between the fetlock joint and the knee or hock. A numbered tabard will be provided for you to use on the day of the test, but this is provided as a means of identifying you and not as a hi-viz garment (it does not reach any safety standard) and must be returned to the organiser at the end of your test. If you are hiring the horse, the person hiring the horse to you may provide the leg bands, but remember to check this before the day of the test so that you come prepared. If it is your own horse, it’s your responsibility to provide the leg bands.
For more information, download the BETA Guide to Rider Safety Equipment (pdf) or contact the BHS Safety Team on 02476 840516 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit the BHS shop to browse a range of hi-viz equipment.