Wearing of gloves when riding or handling horses can benefit our ability to be able to maintain a consistent contact or hold of the reins and improve our grip on a lead rope or lunge line, should a horse become overly strong and try to pull away from us.
Gloves are made from many differing materials and it is important that whichever material you chose, they must be a comfortable fit. Your hands need to remain at the correct temperature to help you to grip effectively in all conditions. Wet weather can affect our grip ability depending upon the task. This can cause problems, for example, riding a horse with wet non-grip reins and no gloves may present control problems due to inability to maintain the correct rein length. A horse becoming sweaty on it’s neck may have the same effect on ability to hold the reins. Hot weather can cause hands to sweat, so a material that is also breathable would be a wise choice to minimise this.
Gloves should offer protection but like all equipment, they will get dirty and it is worth buying a pair that can withstand washing to keep them clean.
It is especially important that the gloves enhance your ability to grip the reins, but are not too cumbersome in either their size or the material they are made from. If the material is too thick or the palm side is slippery then this may prohibit your grip and ability to ‘feel’ the rein’. Professional riders will often choose bespoke riding gloves that compliment the reins they use, for example, some will prefer thin leather gloves with slightly thicker leather across areas where the reins rest and others may prefer a pair that have a palm sided surface that provides additional grip.
As with riding, it is important that you are able to grip and that the material will allow you to make small adjustments to equipment without hindering your safety, for example, being able to quickly undo or adjust a buckle is more difficult to do with an over thick pair of gloves on. Wearing gloves when leading, lungeing or handling horses outside of a stabled environment will help with your ability to maintain control, minimise the risk of rope burns and hopefully avoid a horse becoming unintentionally loose. Wearing of gloves when grooming or undertaking health checks, such as checking for heat or swellings on a horse may prohibit your ability to ‘feel’ the skin as well as you can when not wearing a pair.
When first learning to ride
Be prepared to take an inexpensive pair of close fitting gloves with you for your lessons as this will help you in learning how to correctly hold the reins and protect your fingers if you have not held reins or ridden before. Many types are available, but generally ones that may stretch to fit, with small pimples to aid grip on the palm side maybe the most economical initial choice. The centre, or the coach providing the lesson will be able to further advise you re their suitability.
When participating in British Horse Society assessments
Gloves are required for all assessments although they should be removed for tasks such as grooming, fitting tack etc.
When participating in competitions
Gloves are commonly worn when competing across the differing disciplines with some disciplines stating their use as compulsory with restrictions upon colour – always check the relevant rule book before the day of your competition!