What makes you and your horse most visible when hacking out in poor light?

What makes you and your horse most visible when hacking out in poor light?

Hacking out in autumn, and then winter, means that there's a good chance you’ll be riding in very low or poor light, it may even be dark. This means that it’s absolutely vital for all of us that ride out to ensure ourselves and our horses are wearing some form of hi-viz or reflective clothing.

What's the difference between hi-viz and reflective material?  

High-visibility, hi-viz or fluorescent as it’s also known as, is simply clothing made of fluorescent material. Fluorescent material is manufactured with light-converting pigments that are meant to enhance light in the visible spectrum, reflecting additional light from the fabric. Therefore, hi-viz or fluorescent clothing is better used where higher levels of UV light.

The Harry Hall Hi Viz Long Sleeve Top is made from fluorescent fabric.

harry hall hi viz top

Stretch air mesh material; wicking and antibacterial properties for comfort; 3/4 length front zip.

Reflective material works differently as it directs almost all the light falling on the fabric to be reflected back towards the light source.

The HyVIZ Silva Reflective Jacket is made from Mercury which illuminates in direct light.

HyViz Silva Mercury Jacket

Wind resistant to protect from the elements; stretch panels for movement; lightweight for comfort.

So what's better, hi-viz clothing or reflective clothing?

The answer to this question depends on when you ride:   

If you only ride in good daylight, hi-viz clothing will probably be enough without the reflective element as there are likely to be higher levels of UV light are present.

If you ride at dawn or dusk when the light is poor, a combination of both hi-viz and reflective clothing as when there are lower amounts of UV light, fluorescent clothing on its own will not make you as visible as you could be to, say, a car driver.

The Equisafety Air Waistcoat combines fluorescent fabric with reflective strips.

Equisafety air waistcoat

Breathable mesh panels; two zipped pockets; includes warning "please pass wide and slowly".

If you ride in the dark, reflective clothing is the best option.

High-visibility, hi-viz or fluorescent for good light

Remember the following about fluorescent colours:

equus bullet They help you to be seen in the daytime.

equus bullet They work well in dull or rainy weather and when daylight is fading.

equus bullet They look bright because of the way they absorb and emit different kinds of light.

equus bullet Many people don’t realise it but… fluorescent colours don’t show up without daylight and they certainly do not ‘glow in the dark’. To be seen by drivers, you need something reflective.

Reflective for poor light

Remember the following about reflective materials:

equus bullet They work best when it’s darker.

equus bullet They are designed to bounce most of the light back to its source instead of scattering it. The light from a drivers’ headlights will go straight back to the driver who will see the reflective materials REALLY well.

equus bullet They help drivers to see you sooner which could save your life.

equus bullet Many people don’t realise it but… reflective material on your clothing will not reliably help you to be seen in daytime unless it’s also with fluorescent. Although reflective strips can sometimes glint in the sunlight, it doesn’t show up properly to drivers until it gets dark.

Take home message

Both hi-viz and reflective clothing have shown that they improve the rider’s safety when used properly. Combining both together in one garment increases the rider’s safety as the garment is able to improve their visibility regardless of the time of day or the weather conditions. 

Be safe, be seen. Shop our wide selection of hi-viz and reflective clothing for yourself and for your horse. Don't forget, it's free UK delivery on all orders, no minimum spend.

shop hi-viz for you

shop hi-viz for your horse


Kim Horton

Co-Founder of EQUUS and a keen equestrian, when Kim's not at her desk she's with her horse, Waldo.

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