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Horseback Riding: Sunglasses or No Sunglasses? Best Models

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There is a big debate in the horseback riding community about whether or not you should wear sunglasses while riding. Some people swear by them, while others say they are dangerous and can cause accidents. So, what is the truth? Can you wear sunglasses while horseback riding?

Wearing sunglasses while horseback riding is a great idea. Not only will they protect your eyes from any harsh UV rays, but special sports models also enhance visual perception and clarity so you can stay focused on the task at hand.

In this guide, we will cover the following topics:

And more…

Picture of a man wearing sunglasses while horse riding.
Photo by Amir Kh 

Pros and Cons of Wearing Sunglasses when Riding Horses

Horseback riding is a great way to enjoy the outdoors and bond with your horse. However, there are a few things you should keep in mind when choosing whether or not to wear sunglasses while riding.

Pros – The Benefits of Wearing Sunglasses while Riding

Wearing sunglasses outdoors in the saddle or while working on the ranch offers many benefits.

Filters out harmful rays

Harmful UV rays of the sun can cause damage to delicate eye tissues. These rays have less than 400 nm wavelengths and consist of UVA, UVB, and UVC rays. Long-term exposure to these rays can damage the eye tissues.

Excessive radiation can also result in ‘snow blindness’ – a distressing condition. Even minimal exposure to bright UV rays can result in varying degrees of eye irritation, eye dryness, watering, headaches, etc.

Certain rays of the sun are also responsible for cataracts. While wearing sunglasses won’t guarantee that you won’t develop cataracts, the ideal sunglasses have the power to absorb these harmful wavelengths and prevent them from harming the eyes.

Cuts glare

Sunglasses can reduce the sun’s glare, making it easier to see obstacles in your path while riding. In addition, many riding arenas often use sand which gives off an intense glare. This glare can make it difficult to see properly.

Sunglasses can help protect an equestrian’s eyes from glare and benefit the staff and employees working in the arena.

Improved vision

By wearing sunglasses during the daytime in the saddle, you protect your visual cells from too much visible light – which in turn helps improve night-time vision. Sometimes, this improvement can be as much as tenfold if you use sunglasses with dark lenses during the day.

It gives powerful dust protection.

Sunglasses can help to protect your eyes from dust and debris kicked up by horses’ hooves; this is especially beneficial when following others on a dusty trail. The last thing you want while riding is specks of dust or debris flying into your eyes.

Sunglasses can offer you that protection against these irritants. In addition, they help protect our delicate eyes from sharp objects such as branches, allowing you to maintain focus and ride better.

Cons of Wearing Sunglasses when Riding

Some riding schools and instructors prohibit students from wearing sunglasses because they prevent eye contact, which is vital when learning cues. Sunglasses have many benefits when riding, but sometimes, they can be disadvantageous.

Damage and danger

A loose pair of sunglasses are susceptible to falling and breaking, or they can slip down your nose when you’re sweating, which can be both annoying and dangerous.

Worse, they could fly and hurt you or someone on the ground. They could even spook your horse which can be dangerous for both horse and rider. Naturally, you can take precautions such as securing your sunglasses with a strap behind the head.

These days, sunglasses feature a wraparound design that fits behind the head for a snug fit. Many sunglass manufacturers use hydrophilic rubber grips that prevent them from getting loose when riding.

Errors and distraction

With bad sunglasses, there is always a risk of eye strain, lousy disposition, and seeing errors. Scratches sunglasses are also hazardous and could interfere with visual clarity resulting in falls and serious injuries.

If you wear the wrong sunglasses, it can irritate your face while riding, which could be a distraction, especially for novice riders. 

Care and handling

The upkeep and maintenance of sunglasses could be a bit of a nuisance. However, it is essential if you have spent a lot of money buying them.

Cost

A good pair of riding sunglasses can be expensive. However, the benefits outweigh the cost, and you might save a great deal of money on eye care later.

Picture of sport sunglasses you could wear riding horses.

How to Select the Best Sunglasses for Horseback Riding

If you spend any time outdoors riding your horse, you know how important it is to have a good pair of sunglasses. Not only do they protect your eyes from the harmful UV rays of the sun, but they also help to keep dust and debris out of your eyes.

The best sunglasses for horseback riding are those that offer both UVA and UVB protection. Look for a wrap-around pair; this style will help keep the sun out of your eyes while riding.

In addition, make sure that the glasses fit snugly against your face so that they don’t slip down while you’re in the saddle. With the right pair of sunglasses, you can enjoy horseback riding while keeping your eyes safe from the sun’s harmful rays.

However, an alarming number of inferior sunglasses are on the market, and it is easy to be fooled. Let’s take a closer look at the properties you need in a good pair of equestrian sunglasses.

Lenses

The lenses for outdoor use should be dark – just dark enough but no more. They should absorb 75 to 90% of the light that strikes them. Good sunglass manufacturers will specify how much the lens absorbs white light.

If a sunglass brand does not specify this light transmission factor, then it is evident that the manufacturer does not know or care about this critical specification. Lens density depends on how you plan to use the sunglasses.

If you happen to ride in the snow, desert, or near a water body, you need lenses with an absorption percentage of at least 85 to 90. For riding in forests and deep valleys, you can do with an absorption percentage of 60-75%. For riding in twilight hours or on cloudy days, lenses with 30-50% absorption are adequate.

These days, most manufacturers offer polarized lenses with in-built UV protection. They improve track visibility and cut glare significantly. Many polarized sports and outdoor sunglasses feature TAC technology. TAC lenses come in 7 layers of protection that block 100% of UVA and UVB rays. 

  • The first layer is the polarization layer.
  • 2nd and 3rd layers are bonding layers for durability
  • 4th and 5th layers are UV protective UV absorbing layers
  • The 6th and 7th layers are shatterproof and durable.

Material

  • If your sunglasses are put through a strenuous pace, you can choose them in polycarbonate material which is impact resistant, ultralightweight, and great for adult and kid equestrians.
  • Glass lenses offer excellent visual clarity but are easy to break. 
  • Plastic lenses are cheap but prone to scratching. 
  • You can also choose higher-end polyurethane lenses, which are light and offer excellent visual clarity but are expensive.

Color of lens

  • Green lenses are great for horseriding as they offer glare protection and reduce contrast.
  • Yellow is a good choice if you ride in low-light conditions, early morning or dusk.
  • Blues and purples are not only fashionable but also reduce glare and enhance color differentiation.
  • Gray-colored lenses can reduce fatigue and eye strain. They are ideal for all kinds of weather and provide true color awareness.
  • Pink and red are the ideal choice for riding in the snow. These colors are preferred by alpine racing enthusiasts/competitors as well.

Frames

Material

  • Plastic frames cost less than their metal counterparts. However, precious metal frames are lightweight, sturdy, and can stay in place. 
  • Metal frames made of stainless steel, aluminum, titanium, beryllium, or gold are good choices.
  • These days, nylon and nylon-hybrid frames are also popular. They offer flexibility and are also very light. 

Style

The wraparound style is best suited for sports like horseback riding. Some frames have foamy inserts to offer wind protection. 

Fit

Factor in the fit of the sunglasses. If you wear a riding helmet, the sunglasses should fit easily under the helmet. 

Best Sunglasses for Horseback Riding

Uvex

Uvex sunglasses are well known for their high-quality materials, innovative technologies, and the highest safety standards. 

Their equestrian sunglasses feature variomatic® technology that adapts to all light conditions. Similarly, their Uvex colorvision® lens technology enhances contrast so riders can clearly perceive unevenness, light signals, and obstacles.

Their lenses also guarantee fog-free vision thanks to their supravision® technology. This combines draft-free lens variation/ventilation cutouts at the edge of the lens and antifog coating. 

UVEX UV protective lenses cut out 100% of UVA, UVB, and UVC rays.

Other features like flexible soft nose pads and earpiece ends, pressure-free hold, and a fit designed for equestrian helmets make Uvex equestrian sunglasses the best on the market.

Bex

This American eyewear company was started in 2009, and today it is regarded as the leading brand in eyewear. Their products are affordable and also known for their superior comfort. Their lightweight eyewear generates minimum movement on the user’s face.

Bex equestrian glasses are designed with an active lifestyle in mind. Each pair is lightweight, polarized, and features superior lens technology that offers 100% eye protection in and out of the saddle. Bex sunglass lenses are durable and designed for maximum optical clarity. 

Each pair of Bex equestrian sunglasses also comes with an extra pair of nose pads to replace damaged ones.

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BeaCool

BeaCool sporty sunglasses feature a stylish wraparound design that can prevent them from falling off when riding at high speed. Their 9-layered filtered lenses offer the following benefits:

  • UV 400 protection – 100% blockage of UVA, UVB rays
  • Anti-scratch resistant membrane
  • Back-surface protective coating
  • Ultra string tri acetate membrane
  • True color, high-def visuals
  • Impact resistance
  • Easy to clean

Beacool series of equestrian/active sunglasses are made with German polycarbonate frames that keep them lightweight and durable. They weigh just 24 grams. They also feature soft nose pads with an anti-slip grip.

Tifosi

Tifosi performance eyewear is made with a Grilamid TR-90 nylon frame that is lightweight, durable, and resists UV and chemical damage. Their shatter-proof polycarbonate lenses offer 100% UV protection and a glare guard to reduce eye strain.

The thoughtfully designed activewear sunglasses from the Tifosi brand also feature hydrophilic rubber in the nose pads. This increases grip as you sweat. Similarly, the ear grips also feature hydrophilic rubber to keep the sunglasses secure while riding.

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Nitrogen 

Clean and classy design meets athletic performance to offer you the most reliable pair of sunglasses for horseback riding. Nitrogen Sporty polarized sunglasses are available in a variety of colors. They offer 100% UV protection with true color protection and impact resistance.

Nitrogen also features the 1.1 mm TAC lens, so you can forget the glare. The lenses give rich contrast and image clarity to help you see obstacles and uneven terrain while riding trails.

Duduma

Duduma sporty sunglasses feature seven layers of TAC polarization and durability layers that absorb 100% of harmful UV rays. These sunglasses have been reviewed by over 6,000 Amazon customers and earned 4.3 stars.

The brand is known for its sunglasses having unique design lines that create an aesthetically pleasing appearance.

Duduma’s bendable and flexible frames are break-resistant and can withstand the wear and tear of an active lifestyle. Their lightweight design is perfect for motorcyclists, equestrians, runners, racing, fishing, skiing, trekking, and hiking.

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Hulislem

Hulislem is well-known for its lightweight frames. These sunglasses are designed with the active lifestyle in mind: they are so light that you will forget you’re wearing them. Hulislem frames are made with Swiss technology TR90 thermoplastic material that keeps the sunglasses lightweight, durable, and resistant to impacts.

Available in a wide range of hues and tints, Hulislem sporty sunglasses feature a mirror flash coating on their HD-grade polarized lenses. This limits the amount of light your eyes are exposed to and prevents light wavelengths 400 nanometers and below (UV rays) from entering.

This is also one of the few brands of horseback riding sunglasses that prevent UVA, UVB, UVC, and blue light from hurting your eyes.

The well-designed sunglasses also feature ventilation holes on their frames to prevent sweating. Their linear design looks aesthetically pleasing and offers superior air reduction. 

Conclusion –  Can You Wear Sunglasses While Horseback Riding?

Yes, you can wear sunglasses while horseback riding. However, ensure you choose a lightweight frame that fits snugly and won’t fall off. The frame should not irritate your skin or feel heavy or weigh you down under your riding helmet. Choose sunglasses with lenses that offer UV protection and enhance clarity so you can see obstacles better. 

Many brands of sunglasses are designed for an active lifestyle and are perfect for equestrians. UVEX, BEX, Tifosi, Hulislem, etc., are some reliable names. Their sunglasses offer 100% UV protection and have sleek styles that are aesthetically pleasing and comfortable.

When it gets dark or cloudy, I often place my sunglasses on my cowboy hat; however, you risk stretching them, and they may no longer fit snugly. A better option is to use straps for your sunglasses.

FAQs – Can You Wear Sunglasses While Horseback Riding

What kind of sunglasses does Rip on Yellowstone wear?

Rip is a character on the show Yellowstone who is always seen wearing sunglasses. While the brand of sunglasses Rip wears has not been confirmed, they appear to be a pair of Oliver People Clifton sunglasses.

What are horse sunglasses for?

Horse sunglasses protect your horse from eye injuries. They are designed to provide 360-degree protection and are especially recommended for horses having eye issues, sensitivity, etc.

What are the disadvantages of polarized sunglasses?

Polarized sunglasses often do not have built-in UV protection. They also alter how you perceive what you see. They may even make it difficult to perceive different shades of white.

Do race horses wear goggles?

Racehorses may wear blinders or blinkers to keep their vision focused. The blinders can also protect their eyes from debris.