I have booked DD1 (4 yo) in for a start to ride session at our local stables tomorrow DD2 (2 yo) will also be with me, though not riding yet. Both girls need to have hat and back protector if they are near the ponies, which is quite fair enough and the stables have ones which we can borrow, but if they enjoy it and we decide to make it a regular thing, I'd like them to have their own.
Any tips or things I need to bear in mind? When I rode, many years ago, hats were very much optional so I have no clue!
What kind of prices will we be looking at? Can we buy online? We don't live in the UK, so a website would be great, but is it okay to buy something that DDs can't try on?
They'll need suitable footwear - wellies are fine for starters.
If you decide to get hats and back protectors, they do need to be properly fitted, so ask at the stables for somewhere good locally. All hats fit differently - I spent an hour last week as ds had nearly every hat in the shop tried on him as even the hat that had previously been the right shape was no longer. Hats range in price from £40 to £120ish, back protectors £70 upwards
There are various different safety standards for hats and body protectors which can legally be sold in the UK but some of the standards are higher than others. So don't assume that all hats are as good as each other as that is not the case. Do some research to make sure you get the safest hat - I think PAS 015 2011 is the newest UK safety standard but I may be wrong. Speak to a good tack shop.
I have also heard that European standards are not as high as British so worth investigating.
Body protectors also have different standards. Check out the BETA website for more info.
Make sure hats and body protectors are fitted by a professional.
Air jackets are also becoming more popular check out Hit Air or Point Two although not sure if they are doing them for really little kids but worth researching.
They will also need boots with a heel to prevent feet getting stuck in stirrups and a pair of gloves.
Also don't buy hats or body protectors second hand as if they have been damaged (such as in a fall) they will not be safe. The damage may not be visible to you on inspection. Buy brand new.
You can buy everything else like jodhpurs and boots second hand but hats and body protectors I would always buy brand new.
Also you need to replace hats and body protectors every few years as they deteriorate and also replace after serious fall (or some can be sent back to manufacturer for testing to make sure still safe).
Thanks! Boots have a small heel so that's fine. What kind of gloves are best? We live in Sweden so have plenty of good outdoor kit. I suppose for 'real' riding they need something with some grip, but in the beginning as they're going to be brushing ponies and being led, will they be okay with thinner woollen gloves? It's minus 5 here today so appropriate gloves are essential to prevent frozen fingers!
I would use the riding school kit for as long as possible tbh. Kids grow at a rate of knots, and can outgrow a hat in a year or less. If she's only going once a week, that's not a lot of wear out of a hat which will probably set you back £30. If you must buy a hat, go for the skull cap with silk option, they are usually cheaper and you can reuse the silk on the next hat.
Oh, and I do use second hand hats for my kids - I have a friend whose kids are slightly bigger than mine, she keeps the hats in padded bags and I trust her when she says that they haven't been dropped/damaged. It's like car seats really, if you trust the source then go for it, but I wouldn't buy from random strangers off the Internet iyswim.