Riding horses is exhilarating and great fun but sometimes you and your equine friend could find yourselves in a risky situation. Heading out in the knowledge you might get caught in a rain shower won’t concern most riders. But what happens if the weather takes a turn for the worse and you get caught in a storm?
Your usually calm horse can become spooked if thunder starts to rumble and the wind begins to pick up. Here are our top tips on how to ride safely when a storm closes in.
Keeping up to date on weather reports and recognising what precautions to take before the storm hits are essential for stress-free rides with your equine companion, as is having the right horse rider insurance.
A storm means different things to different people. While it doesn’t have an official meteorological definition it’s commonly used to describe an area of low pressure with associated strong winds and heavy rain. It can also include thunder, lightning or even hail.
Even if it’s sunny and clear when you head out the yard gate, storms can easily sneak up on you when you're far from home. That’s why it’s always vital to check the weather before heading out. After all it’s much better to change your plans than deal with the potentially dangerous consequences of a storm.
If a storm does develop and you’re close to home then head back immediately and wait for clearer skies. However, if a quick retreat indoors is not an option here’s what to do to keep you and your faithful friend safe from harm.
As the sky darkens, the wind gets stronger and heavy rain begins to pour then do the following:
- Stay out of heavily wooded areas. Storms can knock down trees and cause danger to riders underneath.
- Take shelter near a sturdy building.
- If hail develops then dismount and pull your horse into a shelter, even if it’s just scrubby bushes. Be careful if your horse becomes very upset and reacts in a way that could injure you.
- Heavy sudden rain can make even familiar paths slippery and expose roots or rocks that might not have been there before.
- If your trip takes you across water, be very cautious about wading into a flooded, fast-moving stream. Extreme stormy weather can easily lead to flash floods in normally quiet water courses.
Thunder and lightning can be frightening and dangerous for both horses and riders. If you hear thunder approaching then do the following:
- Dismount and lead your horse. You don’t want to be the highest point around.
- Avoid the tops of hills and ridges and peaks. Try to shelter on the side of any natural forms opposite the approaching storm.
- Do not use a cliff or rocky overhang for shelter. If lightning strikes above, it will travel down the face of the rocks toward the ground.
- Never shelter under an isolated tree, instead seek an area where the trees are similarly sized.
- If you’re in an open field, keep moving until you find something taller than you are.
- Avoid ponds, rivers and even large puddles as water acts as a great conductor for lightning.
- Avoid man-made objects such as barb wire fencing, power lines or metal structures as these can also conduct electricity.
- Do not lay flat on the ground as this increases your exposure to ground current.
- If you are in a group, don’t huddle together. Spread out at least 20 feet apart.
- Be sure that the storm has passed over before remounting.
Indoor riding during a storm
Just because a storm is raging outside, you might think you’re safe riding in an indoor arena. However, this isn't necessarily the case as a storm can still spook your horse inside. The noise of heavy rain on a barn roof, and of course, thunder can make some horses become unsettled and even dangerous.
How technology can help
However short or long you plan your hack to be, all responsible riders will make sure they take their mobile phone with them in case of emergency. Not only can you call for help but there are also a range of apps well worth downloading. When thinking about the threat of stormy weather two apps in particular need to be close at hand.
Met Office weather app
The Met Office weather app gives you world-leading weather forecasts direct from the Met Office. Know what the weather will do with the most accurate forecasts and local weather coverage from one hour to seven days ahead. With interactive radar maps and severe weather warnings available at the touch of a button, you’ll be best prepared to stay ahead of the weather.
Horse Rider SOS
Whether you’re off on a well-trodden hack or an adventurous cross-county route don’t leave home before arranging horse rider insurance and downloading a safety app. This simple and easy-to-use app tracks the progress of your ride. However, if you fall off and stop moving it enters alert mode and messages your emergency contacts with your precise location. An invaluable safety feature for those who love nothing better than riding alone with their equine companion.
Protect yourself with horse rider insurance through Equesure
Getting caught out in the weather is a common hazard for outdoorsy types but whatever your level of experience, a horse rider insurance policy arranged through Equesure will protect you from the financial fallout of an accident.
With over 60 years of experience in the insurance market, our specialist team can offer you a bespoke insurance policy with options tailored for your particular requirements.
We can offer personal accident cover up to £20,000, saddlery and tack cover up to £2,500 and death of horse cover up to £3,250. Policies from our trusted panel of insurers can also cover vets fees up to £1,500.
Get a quick quote for insurance for a horse rider today.
Policy benefits and features offered may very between insurance schemes or cover selected and are subject to underwriting criteria. Information contained within this article is accurate at the time of publishing but may be subject to change.