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Hi-viz - wouldn't be seen dead in it?

When out riding, it is strongly recommended that all riders wear fluorescent/reflective clothing (better known as hi-viz). It should be worn at all times when riding out, regardless of the time of day, time of year or prevailing weather conditions.

Wearing hi-viz when riding on the road can give vehicle drivers a valuable THREE seconds extra ‘reaction time’ that could save the life of both you and your horse! To put it into context those three seconds are equivalent to a car, driven at 30 mph, travelling the length of a standard size dressage arena!

There is no law that states riders must wear this equipment, but it is in their best interests to do so – not just because drivers will see them on the road earlier, but also so that they can be seen when they are riding off-road as well. Research by the Ministry of Defence has shown that helicopter pilots can see a rider in hi-viz gear up to half-a-mile sooner and thus avoid flying straight over the top of them. It also means that in the unfortunate event that a rider is thrown from their horse and left in open countryside, the police helicopter or air ambulance will see them much sooner and prevent their injuries from becoming more serious.

Download the 'Don't be a dark horse' poster.

What to choose

There are many types of clothing on the market, at different prices and in different colours. There is something to suit everyone and every pocket. Hi-viz exercise sheets for the horse, jackets/tabards/waistcoats for the riders, hi-viz accessories to add to the bridle, tail, martingale, plus hat covers and hat bands, dabs for the back of the hand – the list is endless and there are new products coming onto the market all the time.

Prices vary from a couple of pounds for a simple tabard purchased from a builder’s merchants, or the supermarket, to a considerable sum for the very best stylish jackets that you would be happy to wear out to do your shopping!

It is up to you how much equipment you choose to wear, however, the BHS would recommend a minimum of a hi-viz jacket or tabard for the rider and leg bands on the horse. A hat band or hat cover is also a useful addition.

Remember when choosing the appropriate colour to wear, that at certain times of the year you will blend into the background or hedgerow wearing certain colours. If you ride in the vicinity of fields of rape when it is in bloom, it is best to avoid wearing yellow! Likewise, if you wear orange, then think whether you will stand out amongst the autumn trees.


Many hi-viz garments now reach BSI approved standards – which shows they have been tested to approved levels for use. These standards are BSEN1150 or EN1150 which is aimed at use by leisure riders – garments to this standard are found in fluorescent yellow, fluorescent pink, fluorescent orange, fluorescent red/orange and fluorescent green and through a spectrum of shades of these particular colours all of which meet the respective BSI standard.

For professional use – such as when the garments are issued by employers for use by their staff when they go out – the standard should be BSEN471 or EN471 and the colours are restricted to fluorescent yellow, fluorescent orange and fluorescent red/orange. If you look at road workers, railtrack workers, postmen and the emergency services, you will see these colours form the bulk of their personal protective equipment.

You can also choose to wear hi-viz accessories such as a lightweight harness, H-harness, hatband, or any other item designed to be worn on your person. These items should be certified to EN13356 standard.

We would always recommend that riders choose clothing to a recognised standard – indeed, anything that is sold as a ‘safety garment’ is required to meet one of these standards, otherwise it is breaking the law. However, wearing anything light and bright is preferable to wearing dark clothing, particularly on a dark horse. BE SEEN and BE SAFER.

There are also many hi-viz products available designed to be worn on your horse or attached to their tack. There is currently no recognised standard for hi-viz horse accessories. It is well worth equipping your horse with some hi-viz items so he / she is still easily seen in the unfortunate event of a rider fall.

Visit the BHS Online Shop to browse a range of hi-viz equipment.

Download BETA Guide to Hi-viz Equipment


Incidentally, some insurance companies will offer better premiums or benefits to riders if wearing hi-viz clothing when they ride out, particularly if involved in an accident. The minimum requirement is usually a tabard for the rider and leg bands on the horse, but you need to check the small print in your policy to confirm this. If there is nothing there, why not ask your insurance company if they will consider offering this? It will do you and other riders a favour!

Riding and Road Safety Test

If you are taking your BHS Riding & Road Safety Test your horse will be required to wear four leg bands – obviously, that is one on each leg positioned between the fetlock joint and the knee or hock. A numbered tabard will be provided for your use on the day of the test, but this is provided as a means of identifying you and not as a hi-viz garment (it does not reach any safety standard) and it must be returned to the organiser at the end of your test. If you are hiring the horse, the person hiring the horse to you may provide the leg bands, but you will need to establish this before the day of the test so that you come prepared. If it is your own horse, then it will rest with you to provide them.