In autumn and winter it gets dark early. If you plan to take your horse for a ride in the evening or go for a walk with your horse in the dark, there are a few things to keep in mind. For example, you should be specially equipped so that third parties recognize you faster in the dark. In our guide, we show you what is important when riding in the dark.
Horseback riding in the dark – This is why horses see well at night.
Horses see in the dark. In fact, they see better than humans. This is due to the special properties of the horse’s eye. The animals possess the tapetum lucidum. This is a reflective layer of the retina. Nocturnal animals such as cats, but also dogs, cattle and horses, are thus able to make optimum use of the incident light. The light enters via the retina, is reflected via the tapetum lucidum and passes the retina once again. Nevertheless, riders often do not dare to saddle their horse at a late hour and ride through the night. However, riding at night in summer and winter offers fun, variety and new impressions. A special experience is, for example, the ride through a full moon night.
Risks and dangers of riding out in the dark
In the dark, however, there are several situations that can become a danger during your ride. This is mainly due to the following reasons:
nervousness of the rider, which is transferred to the horse
Inexperience of rider and horse
Poor visibility of rider and horse for third parties
Lack of suitable equipment for rider and horse
Lack of visibility is a danger
Unlike the horse’s eye, the human eye has limited night vision. Car drivers, but also pedestrians or cyclists do not perceive you as a rider in the dark or only at a short distance. Therefore it is necessary that you and your horse wear special clothing or protective and light elements. Other road users will recognize you faster, adjust their speed and overtake you at an appropriate distance.
What do the road traffic regulations say about riding in the dark?
On all public paths and roads, the Road Traffic Regulations (StVO) also apply to you as a rider. Among other things, this means that you and your horse must be clearly visible to other road users at all times. As soon as dusk begins, some measures are necessary. You and your horse must be sufficiently illuminated during twilight, in darkness and when visibility is poor, such as in fog, snow or rain.
when driving livestock, a non-blinding light with white light in the front and a light with red light at the end,
when leading even one large animal or livestock, a non-dazzling lamp with white light, which must be carried on the left side to the front and rear clearly visible.
If you are riding in a larger group of riders, this forms a group.
It all comes down to the right equipment
The safety of horse and rider stands and falls with the right equipment during the ride. Normal riding clothes are hardly noticeable in the dark. The following safety items for riding in the dark increase your visibility and that of your horse:
Light for riders: helmet and boot light.
Reflectors horse and rider in general
Reflective riding jacket
Reflective riding rug
Luminous strips for horse legs
Front and rear light
As a rider, you should pay attention to reflective vests and bright clothing, especially in the dark.
Use lamps for riding helmet and arms
For riders there are special lamps that you can quickly and easily attach to the riding helmet by means of an elastic band. As modern variants for lighting riders are available LEDs, which are powerful and at the same time score with low energy consumption.
In addition, there are practical LED reflector bracelets that glow red. The bright lights recognize third parties from a distance. Such bracelets are not available for riders specifically. Rather, you can also use the practical LED lights for running, cycling or walking your dog. Many models have two modes. These include permanent glow and flashing.
Important features of reflectors for you and your horse
Reflectors are essential for riding in the dark. They ensure that other road users can better recognize you and your horse even from a greater distance. The safety element reflects the light that comes, for example, from the car headlights of an oncoming person.
Quality of the reflectors
Make sure that the reflectors are of good quality. We recommend reflectors that are visible over a distance of about 120 meters. This way you will be noticed early. Drivers coming towards you or driving behind you will recognize you in time. Non-quality reflectors are often only visible at a distance of 30 meters or less. Drivers cannot brake in time or estimate the correct distance when overtaking.
Size of the reflectors
The size of the reflectors is also crucial for their visibility. The wider the reflectors, the greater the visual distance at which other road users register you and your horse.
Attach reflectors so they are clearly visible
Reflectors develop their full effectiveness when you attach them so that they are clearly visible. Reflective articles are offered for horses as well as for their riders. There are several possibilities as reflectors for horses:
Legs: reflective gaiters and hoof bells
Head and neck: reflective breastplate, halter, fly cap
Body: reflective riding blanket
Rear area: reflective tail protector
As a rider, you also benefit from reflectors, which you can use as follows:
Body: reflective vest or riding jacket, glow-in-the-dark tags, flashing tags
Arms: reflective tapes
Legs: riding breeches with reflective stripes
Feet: riding boots with reflectors, shoe clip
Care of the reflectors
When buying reflectors, make sure that they can be cleaned easily and are also hard-wearing. High-quality reflectors offer the same reflector quality as at the beginning, even after more than 60 wash cycles.
The individual riding behavior
All protective measures in the dark will not work properly if you have the wrong riding behavior. Get your horse used to early dawn after a long summer. In addition, if you want to ride out with your horse in the dark, it is worthwhile to participate in group rides at the beginning. The focus here is on a lead horse that is calm and experienced, increasing the other horses’ sense of security. If your horse has not had any experience on the road, you should also allow him to get used to it.
Enjoy your rides in the dark hours of the evening or night without neglecting safety. In our online store you will find reflective riding rugs, halters, helmet lamps and much more for you and your horse. We answer your questions about riding in the dark and advise you very gladly.
My name is Mark and the senior editor
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