Riding your horse in the dark is perfectly safe if you take the right precautions. Your horse has excellent night vision and would look forward to a night time ride. But there are some guidelines to considering when riding in the dark.
• Riding along highways is dangerous at night, so be extra careful about others on the road. Though your eyes may have adjusted to the dark and you can see, you may not be visible to other people. Motorists are not oriented to look for riders - especially in the evening.
• Allow time for the horse's eyes to adjust to the dark. Work at slow speeds and on level terrain. No jumping. Plan to do your faster or more demanding work on the weekends and use the evenings to review familiar lessons.
• Sharp contrasts in light are harder for horses (and people) to deal with than steady low light. Your horse will have a harder time knowing where he's going if there's a spotlight creating shadows or blind spots than a darker area lighted by moonlight alone.
• It's helpful to carry a flashlight in case of emergencies, but realize that the light may startle your horse. If you need to use your flashlight, point it at the ground (though he may shy at it there, too). Use the light sparingly. Your horse can probably see better without the light than with it, since his eyes will likely adjust to the relative darkness.
• To improve your chances of being seen, wear reflective clothing and consider attaching a "glowstick" to your saddle or breastcollar. Glowsticks last for hours, and can help you be spotted, though be aware that driver won't know that they are seeing a horse and rider.
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