As the days get shorter, you might find yourself chasing the light to ride in the evenings. Stress to finish up before the sun goes down, or you can embrace the time change with a night ride! To get a feel for this endeavor, we asked some of our most experienced trail riders for tips on riding in the dark. Read on to hear what they had to say!
Tip #1: Plan ahead
When embarking on your first night ride, you should tackle a trail that you and your horse are familiar with. If possible, ride in open country with good footing. Plan out your gear ahead of time and be sure to carry a flashlight with full batteries. Tell a friend where you plan to ride before you take off and if you are hauling out, be sure your horse is used to loading in the dark.
It's good practice for your horse to know how to load no matter the lighting.
Tip #2: Try to avoid artificial light
While a headlamp is great to have along, you should try to avoid using it while riding. The light can mess with your horse’s eyes, making it difficult for him to navigate the trail. If you don’t feel comfortable riding completely in the dark, you can tape glowsticks to your breast collar or try the Illumiseen LED Breastplate for a little extra light. It’s always a good idea to plan your night ride during a full moon for natural visibility!
Crew member Charnelle demonstrates how bright the Illumiseen Breastplate is!
Tip #3: Be wary of low-hanging branches
In addition to protecting you in case of a fall, helmets will ward off bumps and bruises from encroaching branches. You can also use glasses with clear lenses for extra safety. Those pesky branches have a tendency to nab headlamps, so duct tape it to your helmet to be sure you have light when you reach up to turn it on.
Tip #4: Make yourself seen
If you are riding somewhere with potential traffic, it’s important to be visible. Wear light colors and use as much reflective gear as possible. We carry jackets, vests, tights, and horse gear that can help you be seen. Check out our selection of reflective gear here.
Reflective gear ensures oncoming traffic sees you.
Tip #5: Trust your horse
Horses see better in the dark than humans, so trust your steed to take the best path. Your horse should also trust you, in case he is spooked by sounds or shadows. Night riding requires a good connection between horse and rider, so make sure you are familiar with your mount before taking off into the darkness.
Sanoma Blakeley enjoying a night ride with her trusty steed.
Follow these tips and night riding can be a great way to detach from the world while enjoying the company of your best friend on four hooves. Happy riding!
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