What to take
A properly fitted riding helmet is the most important piece of equipment and your hat should comply with current EU or British standards, including VG1, PAS 015, ASTM F1163 and the Snell 2001. For added security look for the quality marks of the Kitemark, IC mark or SEI mark which indicates that the manufacturer is monitored for quality and consistency on an ongoing basis. If taking your own hat, check with the riding establishment what their minimum requirements are in terms of hat standards, as they may differ to what your hat is made too. It is always best to take your own riding hat for comfort and fit although many if not all establishments will provide a selection for their riders. BETA offers training to retailers on fitting both riding hats and body protectors and will display a certificate in store identifying the name of the person trained. Be sure to ask for a trained member of staff to fit you when purchasing new equipment. For your nearest trained retailer contact the BETA office. www.beta-uk.org.
For added safety a body protector should also be taken, especially if you are intending to jump. Children should be encouraged to wear body protectors as soon as they start to ride.
A good pair of riding boots designed for riding. If you are trekking or trail riding, there is now a selection of riding shoes/trainers designed for both riding and walking, which if space is tight can be particularly useful. These can be combined with a pair of half leg chaps for comfort and protection of your jodhpurs.
It is a good idea to take two pairs of riding trousers – jodhpurs are best for all except possibly Western saddles. If you do decide to ride in jeans or normal trousers, you may find that the seam on the inside of the leg rubs against the stirrup leather causing painful chafing.
Unguided rides: Take a map case or plastic cover to protect maps en route – not too thick as you will want to fold it to put inside a pocket. A jacket and/or waistcoat with large pockets is useful to carry a hoof pick, torch, pen knife and string (in case of tack breakages) and some emergency food. Consider carrying a sports drink in a pouch or take a drink holder that fastens to the saddle. A mobile phone is also essential to call for help or directions if you get lost. Remember to pack a first aid kit to accompany you. Make sure your horse is equipped with a halter and long lead rope and ask what method of restraint/ tying it is used to. Practise your quick release knots before heading off.
Nice to have extras
Cycling shorts or padded underwear can save the day if you are not used to riding for several hours a day. Check what sort of tack you will be riding in – a seat saver is cheaply bought and can easily be taken with you. Riding gloves are also a useful accessory to protect against the sun, cold and dirt. A lightweight camera on a shoulder strap with a pouch that can be secured to your belt allows you to take pictures without stopping to access your bag and is not inconvenient for faster riding. A plastic bag to wrap the camera for protection from moisture or dust is very useful. A bum bag is handy to keep items such as extra film, spare batteries or sun screen or insect repellent in.
With thanks to Unicorn Trails for the use of excerpts from their holiday guides.