Trail riding this time of year is a treat for both you and your horse. Cooler temps and beautiful fall colors, followed by a winter wonderland. But don’t take for granted that your “bombproof” horse will stay bombproof. Consider taking these steps for a safer trail ride.
- Always wear a helmet. You might also want to consider wearing a safety vest.
- Always ride with a partner or let someone know where you are going and when you expect to be back.
- Carry a cell phone or GPS. Carry them with you. If you and your horse are separated, your cell phone may go galloping down the trail without you.
- Always wear proper riding apparel and foot wear. They can help prevent injury from branches or falls. Proper boots will keep your foot securely and safely in your stirrup.
- Pack a rain coat or light sweater – weather can change in an instant.
- If you will possibly be riding after dark, wear reflective clothing and take a small flash light. Reflective items for your horse are another good idea.
- If riding during hunting season, even if you are not riding in a hunting area, wear highly visible clothes (orange or fluorescent).
- Have your horse wear a halter under his bridle and bring a lead rope in case you have to tie your horse on the trail.
- Bring a small first aid kit
- If you ride during bug season, use a fly mask and fly spray on you horse, and bug repellent for you.
- Think long and hard before going on a trail ride bareback. Then think again. There are a lot of things on the trail that can cause your horse to spook and having a saddle can help you stay secure and control your horse.
- Keep at least one horse length between you and the horse in front. If your horse might be prone to kick a too close horse, make sure everyone knows it or tie a red ribbon to your horse’s tail.
- Stay alert. While it’s natural to get lost in the fun and beauty of a trail ride, remember that you are still riding and must stay alert to potential problems. If you see a potential problem (like a hole), make sure you notify the other riders.
- Always go at the pace that’s most comfortable for the least experienced rider or greenest horse. If your group decides to move at a faster pace, especially canter, make sure everyone in the group agrees or don’t canter. Horses are herd animals and will want to stay together and a beginner trail rider may not yet be comfortable at the faster pace.
- Stay on the designated trail. Not only will this keep you from getting lost, but can also be a safer route. Off the trail there may be holes, poison ivy etc.
- Know what to do in case of emergencies. These include an emergency stop, how to deal with a barking dog or wild animal on the trail and knowing some basic self-defense moves to keep YOU safe from attackers.
Follow these same rules next spring and summer to stay safe year-round!
Courtesy of Classic Equine Equipment