Here's Your New Equestrian Visibility Fashion
As a British equestrian sport horse rider in Los Angeles, I have always been concerned with the lack of concern for visibility and equestrian road safety here in the US. In the UK, it is drummed into us from an early age to wear bright colors and reflectives when on the lanes and roads. It is also now highly recommended by the British Horse Society that riders wear brightly colored equestrian outfits when riding on trails and cross country. The usual hunter green and English equestrian chic outfit of neutral tones is actually not the most sensible when riding through woods and on country lanes as one tends to blend in with the scenery. Remember, should there be an accident and you fall from your horse you don't want to be camouflaged and unseen by passing cars, or heaven forbid a search party goes looking for you after your trusted steed returns to the stables sans rider and everyone walks past you.
I really became aware of the need for equestrian road safety fashion after a friend here in Los Angeles was riding down a residential road with her daughter when a car crashed into them. She suffered spinal injuries as well as huge mental trauma to them both. The driver claimed he couldn't see them - It was daylight! There have been numerous times that I have shouted after cars that have whizzed by me or raised a flying V salute to them as their car disappears into the distance.
Farah wearing her Equisafety bonnet. I particularly like their range of high viz clothing for horses and jackets for riders. They have partnered with British Dressage Olympic gold medallist Charlotte Dujardin for a more fashion-forward collection.
I also had a serious accident myself 10 years ago riding in the equestrian park called Hansen Dam in greater Los Angeles. My old horse Gracie (the Caballo LOGO and TrailBlazer design horse) threw me and galloped off leaving me to limp after her with a concussion and broken hand. I luckily found her waiting for me at the edge of the woods with reins broken and a nasty gash on her leg. I had heard horror stories of horses getting lost in the thick forest of bamboo for weeks and other horses that had panicked and tried to run home and were badly injured as they ran through residential traffic – another very good reason that not only should our riders be visible, so should our horses!
The seed of Caballo Design was born and I started to design a range of equestrian outfits focused on fashion and visibility rather than having to wear the usual equestrian safety vests. I started with the TrailBlazer collection of bright equestrian fashion designs with road safety slogans on the backs and sleeves, to help drivers see and understand how to drive around horses. The idea is to create a street fashion style for equestrians to look good in as well as be a safety aid. The special fabric is UV Protective and Moisture- wicking and keeps you cool even on extremely hot days. I also found they work really well as base layers in the winter under warm coats as they prevent you from getting sweaty when riding. The fabric is similar to rash-guards so they are ideal for washing your horse or if you are going to get messy as you can easily wash yourself and the horse and dry in 10 minutes. What a win-win!
I tested ALL my designs religiously over the last year and am pleased to report that I am constantly being told how I could be seen from the road and even on the trail from the road or by other riders out on the trail a mile away.
"Yes good", I reply "that is the point!"
On searching the internet for guidelines for road safety I found some good articles for equestrians. ALL had similar commonalities:
1.The NEED for Brightly coloured clothing and reflectives on the road.
Riders giving drivers clear signals to help them in their awareness of how to pass horses
Wearing bright clothing on trails is also highly recommended.
Anyone who rides the roads regularly can tell you stories of careless or rude drivers, and while it's not the norm for every ride, you have to realize it's a real possibility.
Be Seen to Be Safe.
- Wear brightly colored or reflective clothing and a helmet.
- Scout out the road before you ride.
- Choose roads that have a wide shoulder or area where you can escape.
- Train at home, including teaching your horse to spook in place.
- Use hand movements to signal to drivers, where appropriate.
It's hard to imagine that a driver might miss seeing a 1,000-pound animal with a rider, but the reality is that most drivers don't expect to see horses on the road. If a driver is distracted, such as talking with kids in the car or on a cell phone, he's even less likely to see a horse.
The easier you are to see, the more time a driver has to stop or avoid you. Wearing bright or reflective clothing, even in daylight, makes a huge difference in how visible you are. Safety yellow or orange shirts or vests are readily available at discount stores and bicycle shops.
Reflective clothing or tack, such as reflective leg bands on the horse, is helpful in alerting drivers that something is there, but they still may have a hard time recognizing that it's a horse, particularly in low light.
Saddlelights owner Dwayne Russell recommends a personal safety flasher that you can clip on the back of your belt or put in your horse's tail. The flasher can be seen even in daylight, and it won't interfere with your horse's vision the way carrying a flashlight or wearing flashing lights on the front of a jacket or helmet would.
The New POP TrailBlazer UV Moisture-wicking tops are $75, inspired by Andy Warhols colorful paintings available exclusively online at Caballo Design. All Caballo Design clothing is printed on demand to be as sustainable as possible and shipped WORLDWIDE from our print partners around the world to ensure our carbon footprint and costs are as low as possible.