So, you have ridden for one month now and, of course, you need to start getting your own, personalised equipment. That makes sense, but allow your pocket to raise some money for the time when your decision that horseback riding is for you becomes final. The items below are the ones I bought after my first month, and I strongly recommend them. Of course, you can buy more items, or even less than that. But this list should be considered, because it has been made having safety, comfort and budget in consideration:
1. Helmet: Many people avoid wearing a helmet, either because they feel it like a trouble, or they think that they look hot without it. And they feel safe enough to do it. Well, this is not hot at all; due to the unpredictability of a horse’s attitude, you should never consider yourself safe while riding. Even the toughest riders have fallen off the horse at least once in their lives and quite many champions have been killed as well. The helmet actually prevents severe brain injuries and people with experience in falling can confirm this. When a horse tried to toss me four times within half an hour (once on a very narrow pavement with cars passing by fast), I felt quite lucky and safe thanks to my quite expensive helmet.
Anyways keep in mind that you get what you pay for when it comes to helmets and also that cycling or motorbike helmets are not suitable for horseback riding, as horseback riding can cause you different -and more severe- injuries, and the sensitive back of your head is within the radius. So, you will need a certified horse riding helmet, with adjustable strings, fitting your head, ears and chin. And, of course, it must cover as much as possible the back of your head. It is indispensable to buy a brand-new one and avoid lending it to others. That’s because helmets sometimes break or crack during a fall and these breaks or cracks are not always visible. In such a case the helmet is transformed from a tool of safety into a means of injury and, if you don’t have your own that you only use, you can’t be sure that it’s safe to wear it.
2. Boots: You should be aware by now that boots are necessary, as they keep your legs in place while you mount and unmount, prevent friction with the horse’s stomach from affecting your legs, and prevent you from slipping when you step on mud. You might have found so far your wellies or fashion boots convenient. But after your first month, it’s time to consider buying specialised riding boots. At this point, they don’t have to be posh or expensive like the ones you see on shows; all you need them for is training and learning about stable work anyway. What you need is a pair of rubber riding boots; their specialised soles will keep your foot inside the stirup and their material will permit you to keep your feet dry at all times, whatever you do. Also, they are specially designed for your feet to get in and out easily, as well as prevent any odours. What is more, they still have this special equestrian design (taller on the outer side, shorter on the inner one), which ensures comfort and efficiency when you ride. My rubber boots cost me just 55 euros, so they didn’t break my budget really and I can feel the difference when I trot.
3. Breeches: At least one pair of riding breeches must exist in your wardrobe. Breeches keep you confortable and stable on the saddle, while their strong, elastic fabric ensures that they won’t tear apart once you mount on the horse (unlike jeans, for example). There are several designs and prices in the market, just prefer full-seated pairs.
4. Gloves: OK, this might not be as necessary as a helmet, but I found my gloves quite useful. When I ride, they help me keep my grip on the reins (or the saddle if I need it). Also, when I take tourists and children on walks, they help me control the horse from the reins when my animal friend has a different opinion about where we should head to.
5. Whip: This is even less important than gloves at this point, but by now you should probably know how to use a whip. It is a very good idea to have yours. It doesn’t need to be too expensive and it’s not urgent to buy it -as your instructor probably has a few of them- but it is a good thought to remember to buy your own on a sale day.
I hope this helps. For questions or suggestions, please use the comments’ area below.