Although it is not legally required to wear hi-vis clothing while riding, it has many benefits. Several studies have shown that wearing high-visibility clothing was associated with lower collision odds.
Thankfully, many horse riders can now purchase clothes that meet the BSI-approved standards of BSEN1150 or EN1150, which will provide both fluorescent and reflective material so that you can stay visible in various weather conditions.
High visibility riding gear is designed to reflect light from sunlight, a car’s headlights, or the moonlight and help riders stand out. The primary reason is to allow motorists and other road users to see horses and riders sooner and faster than if they weren’t wearing hi-vis. This extra time can make all the difference in staying safe on the road or bridleways, especially if conditions are poor.
Many of the most effective equine high visibility riding wear and accessories incorporate fluorescent and reflective materials. Fluorescent material gives the wearer a bright, natural color that stands out in a variety of weather and lighting conditions, while reflective material illuminates when hit by light, such as headlights from passing cars. The best option is to look for items that reach BSI approval standards. This means the garments will have a good level of fluorescent and reflective material for the ultimate visibility.
As well as making the rider and horse visible to road users, wearing hi-vis will allow dog walkers, runners, cyclists, and even helicopter pilots to spot the duo from a greater distance. This helps prevent accidents when the pair part company during a hack in the open countryside and stops any injuries from becoming more serious.
It’s worth remembering that hi-vis isn’t just for riding on roads; if you regularly hack out along miles of bridleways or country lanes, having the proper clothing for yourself and your horse is essential. As the days get shorter and the amount of daylight reduces, it’s essential to be as visible as possible to other road users. Even on sunny daytime rides on a leafy country lane, disaster could happen if you’re not easily seen by traffic.
Unlike reflective material, which reflects light, fluorescent material emits it. This makes it highly visible under certain conditions, such as low light, fog, and rain. It is often used with reflective material to create practical garments under different weather and lighting conditions, which contain fluorescent panels and reflective tape.
While there is no legal requirement for riders to wear hi-vis on the road, it is in their best interests to do so to help ensure their safety. It has been shown that wearing high-visibility clothing gives other road users three seconds to see and react to a rider, which can be the difference between a safe and a dangerous crash.
At a minimum, riders should wear a brightly colored hi-vis coat or tabard, and their horse should have high-visibility leg bands. However, there are several other ways to increase the visibility of yourself and your horse when out riding, including wearing reflective equipment, such as boots and hat covers, and using fluorescent products on the ground to mark the outline of a trampled area.
When choosing a color for your hi-vis, it is essential to consider the types of backgrounds in which you and your horse will be riding. For example, suppose you are a frequent road rider who encounters bridleways and off-road tracks. In that case, yellow is an excellent choice as it is the most easily identifiable shade for motorists to identify riders from a distance.