Hacking out in the winter time can be exhilarating. Picturesque views combined with frost coated leaves glistening on trees, makes for a beautiful ride. It is so important to remember that even though it may appear bright and light out there, drivers and other road users may still not always see you immediately.
In the United Kingdom, the weather is notorious for changing quickly. What starts as a sunny visible hack, can change very swiftly into a grey skied, rain clouded storm. Our country roads can be dark and narrow with overhanging trees and overgrown hedges. Because of this, we always recommend that when you ride out you wear several colours for hacking. Dark horses especially can blend into the background and surrounding vegetation, making it very hard for a driver or other road user to see them.
The British Horse Society states…”The British Horse Society always recommends wearing hi-viz clothing when riding or carriage driving, regardless of whether you ride or drive on or off the road, the time of day, season or weather conditions. We would not recommend going out at night or in poor visibility, in accordance with Rule 51 of the Highway Code”.
There are two types of reflective clothing – fluorescent and reflective. Fluorescent is the bright, “day-glow” colour which can come in green, orange or pink. They are the best colours to wear in the day time as the sun’s ultra-violet light reacts with them so they appear to glow. Reflective clothing is best at night or when natural light is dim and dark. The lights from the cars and glow from street lighting bounces off the grey/silver parts back towards road users, making them aware of you in both size, shape and distance away.
What to wear…
Make yourself stand out with high visibility clothing for both you and your horse. You can see from the image here that it can make a huge difference to you being seen!
There are many companies out there that now stock horse and rider wear for hacking, such as Equisafety. If your horse is clipped they will benefit from an exercise sheet in the colder weather and there are many bright high viz ones available to buy like this one from Naylors. These are quite often waterproof as well.
Leg bands and tail straps are also available to make you stand out to fellow road users. Don’t forget you can also now buy bridle accessories and hat bands too. Tabards, jackets and gloves are also useful. It is all about making you as visible as possible, as quickly as possible. Do not listen to people who tell you “…if they cannot see half a ton of horse, they should not be driving anyway…” or “My horse is grey so he stands out…”. This is not a sensible view to take on your or your horses safety, notwithstanding the safety of your other road users.
Take advantage of the beautiful winter weather, keep your horses fitness up and make the most of the time off over the festive break. Have fun this winter hacking out but remember #besafe #beseen