If you’re thinking of taking up horse riding, you need to find somewhere suitable to learn and then consider what specialist equipment you may need.

There is a wide range of horse rider equipment available to keep you safe and comfortable when riding. Using the correct equipment is important not only for your wellbeing, but also for that of the horse.

Starting out - what do you need?

Safety is a key criteria when riding and being around horses. A riding hat and safe footwear are a minimum.

Most riding schools will be able to provide a helmet and advise on suitable footwear and other clothing.

Until you’re sure that riding is for you, there’s no real reason to go out and buy specialist equestrian boots - shoes or boots with a small heel are perfectly adequate. The heel is important in order to stop your foot sliding straight through the stirrup - which can be highly dangerous should you lose balance or your horse suddenly move.

Flat soled trainers and sandals can therefore be disregarded for riding – as can high heels and any form of open-toed shoe. Your toes should always be protected around horses as their hooves could stand on your feet and cause significant injury.

One other item of equipment you may want to consider investing in is a pair of riding gloves. Riding gloves are one of riding’s cheaper accessories and will help you grip the reins more comfortably.

Now you're a horse rider - what equipment should you buy?

Once you are a more seasoned horse rider, equipment takes on more importance. It is a good idea to invest in proper riding boots, either long riding boots or jodhpur boots which can be worn with half chaps to give more protection to your lower leg. Also once the bug has bitten your own hat is a good idea, go to a reputable saddler who can ensure the fit is good.

Jodhpurs may be more comfortable and come in a whole host of colours and styles. As your ability, confidence and aspirations increase, you may get the opportunity to compete, in which case clothing appropriate for the discipline would be required eg. a riding jacket, shirt and tie (or stock) together with some cream or white jodhpurs for showing or dressage.