Whenever you ride, it’s important to do everything you can to stay safe and avoid accidents. You might be making simple mistakes that could jeopardise your safety in the saddle. But don’t fret: we’re kicking off the year with 5 safety reminders.
1. Drink enough water
This is advice that usually goes in one ear and out the other. If you’re dehydrated before or during your ride, toxins build up in your muscles, and this can cause headaches, dizziness, constipation and a tight chest. Try to drink at least 1 bottle of water before you ride and another straight after – and even more if it’s hot!
2. Don’t skip meals
If you’re in a rush to get to the stables in the morning or after school, you might skip a meal. You may even choose not to eat at a show because competition nerves are getting the better of you. Not eating results in a lack of energy, which can cause you to feel faint, dizzy and weak. Ideally, you should try to eat a main meal 1 hour before you ride. If you can’t, make sure you at least snack on something smaller throughout the day.
3. Helmet safety
Head injuries are a big threat to riders. You may be in danger if you’re wearing a hat that doesn’t fit properly or one that’s already been in a fall. A hat that is too big for you or doesn’t fit correctly won’t protect you properly. Hats that have been in a fall might have some internal damage that can’t be seen. Make sure that the helmet you wear meets the current safety standards and that its straps are all in working condition.
4. Check your tack
Before you ride, you should always check that there is nothing wrong with your tack. You don’t want to end up in a situation where your bridle comes off or your saddle starts slipping! Make sure to check:
- the stitching on your stirrup leathers
- the girth straps and buckles
- your reins
- the bridle buckles and straps
5. Stretch before you ride
Most of us forget to stretch, and this can cause problems for our muscles! Do some simple stretches before you ride to warm up your muscles so that you don’t feel tense or tight while you ride. Do more stretches after your ride to cool down your muscles correctly as well. Remember, you’re an athlete, too!