10 Tips For A Safe Trail Riding Experience
Is there any equestrian who doesn’t like trail rides on a warm summer day with friends and favorite four-hooved companion? Everyone loves riding to a new landscape and enjoying the unique nature on horseback. Trail rides can help you strengthen your bond with your horse, and summer is, of course, the best season to enjoy every second of it without worrying about the rain or a storm! If you are planning to hit the trails before the summer ends, you should take a look at our tips to ensure your safety and the fun time you will have.
Keep In Mind
Trail riding on horseback sounds quite easy but when you are not ready for it, it can easily turn into a nightmare! There are many things you should keep in mind to have a safe ride for you, your horse, and your trail buddies.
1.) Have at least one friend to ride with
Riding in the wild can bring dangers to both horses and riders. The horse can run away after spooking at a random animal or a small puddle and buck you off. Some riders get lost in this situation and cannot be found for several days. Having a horse enthusiast buddy to ride together can save your life or maybe you can save their life in a terrible moment.
2.) Make sure that your horse behaves in a group
You should never consider riding a trail alone. Hence, you should make sure that your horse is comfortable with being in a group with other horses. Some horses prefer to go in front of the herd and lead them whereas some horses prefer to stay back and follow the others. To understand how your horse behaves in a group, you can try to ride with your friends in the arena where it is safer. Once you are sure that your horse can get on well with the other members of the herd, you can hit the trails together!
3.) Fitness of your horse
Trail rides require a lot of strength and stamina. Your horse should have enough endurance to walk a long distance in hot or cold weather. He should have the power to climb up to the hills, pass rivers, or jump the obstacles you will encounter on the trail. If your horse is not fit enough for a challenging trail, he might give up on the way and you might face serious problems miles away from the nearest help. You can check your horse’s fitness around the barn by riding him towards some mild inclines and trying to jump different cross country obstacles. You can also check our blog post to learn HOW TO MAKE YOUR HORSE STRONGER.
4.) Know the territory and check the weather
When you are heading out to a trail, you should know some details about the place. For example, if there are big obstacles, cliffs, rivers, dense forests, you should know their places and set your route according to the territory. Besides, checking the weather beforehand is vital to prepare for any possible incident. If there will be a rainstorm, you might want to postpone the ride. If it is going to rain slightly, you can consider taking a poncho and saddle cover with you. In addition to that, extra heat can cause fatigue and sunburn in both humans and horses. Choose the time and weather wisely!
5.) Trail Etiquette
Learning the trail etiquette is another essential element to have a safe trail ride. Keep in mind that you may not be the only one using the trail. Hikers and a bike rider can be out enjoying the same trail as you. As many of them don’t know about horses, you should be aware of the danger and keep an eye on them to comfort your horse. When bikers come behind you, your horse can get aggressive and start bucking. Whenever you recognize that someone is coming behind you, you can simply pull your horse off the trail and turn him on your left or right to make sure he can see what is coming behind. You can let them pass and continue your trail in peace.
Before You Set-Off
Riding to different trails without proper preparation can be quite dangerous for both riders and horses. Being in nature can bring many surprises and some can be bad like a wild animal coming out of the blue and terrifying your horse or a torn out leather when you are far away from the barn. Therefore, preparation is important to have a safe ride. Here are the things you need to check before setting off:
6.) Pack your bags
When you are on the trail, you never know what you will need. We recommend making a list of the most important things you should take with you. This list should include a first aid kit, extra reins, and girth - can come in handy when any tack breaks -, extra clothes, jacket or poncho, a halter, lead rope, bug spray, knife, some grooming kit like a brush or hoof pick, etc. In case of a horse injury, you can also use the first aid kit for the horse until you get professional help.
7.) Food and water
Depending on how long you will be gone, you should pack food and water for yourself as well as your horse. You should check if there are water resources where you can water the horses and if there is enough grass around for them. If not, you should take enough food for them and if you cannot provide enough water for your horse, you should keep the trail short.
8.) Check your tack
Always double check your tack before you start the trail. Make sure that all the pieces are durable enough for a long ride and there is not a loose piece. A broken tack can cause a catastrophe and ruin your day when you are out to enjoy the time with your friends. Also, we advise checking your tack at each stop. When you stop to take some rest and walk, check the reins and girth before mounting again. Some horses can lose some air from their girth as you ride and get rid of their bloating. If the girth looks loose, tighten it before you continue.
Throughout The Trail Ride
If you are ready to hit the tacks, here are some extra tips, you should remember during your ride:
9.) Don’t leash the horse with the reins
During a trail ride, you will need to dismount many times, and sometimes you will need to leash your horse somewhere. Don’t ever leash your horse with the reins because if the horse spooks at something, he will try to pull his head to escape. At this point, bits can severely hurt his oral cavity. You can take a halter and a lead rope with you to leash the horse when you need it.
10.) Respect everyone
If you are in a group with different riders from different levels, respect them and their horses. Even if you know them or not, you all are together on this trail to have fun and enjoy the landscape on horseback. Don’t push anyone to do something they don’t want to or their horse isn’t capable of. When planning the trail, ask everyone about their riding level and make the plans suitable for everyone. Focus on beautiful things and try to help each other. Be the one who makes others’ day!