There are many considerations to keep in mind as you prepare to hit the trails
Trail riding is a popular way to spend time outdoors enjoying nature, friendship, and your horse. Safety is first and foremost and should always be considered when riding on the trails. There are many considerations to keep in mind as you prepare to hit the trails.
- Have you checked your tack, equipment, and horse?
- Do you have a safety plan?
- If you are riding alone, did you tell someone where you were going, and when to expect your return?
These are a few of the many considerations and steps to take to ensure a safe and enjoyable ride for you and your horse.
Make a Plan
Plan your ride and route in advance. Make sure the area and trails allow horses. It is best to not ride alone; if you do, let someone know where you are going and when to expect you back. Even if you are riding with a group, it is good practice to let someone know where you are riding and when to expect the group back. Be aware of the wildlife you may encounter in the area and plan accordingly.
Check your Tack and Equipment
Riding equipment should be clean and in good working condition, free of rot and frays. The saddle should fit you and your horse properly. It should not pinch the horse’s withers, shoulders, back or loin, and the girth should not pinch behind the horse’s elbow. Now is also a good time to make sure your stirrups are adjusted properly: the bottom of the stirrup should reach the ankle bone of the rider when the foot is out of the stirrup.
Other General Guidelines for Riding Safely on the Trail
- Wear a properly fitted riding helmet.
- Stay alert and be aware of your surroundings and watch for other horses acting up or situations that may frighten your horse.
- Always ride at the speed that is comfortable and safe for the least experienced rider in the group.
- Avoid riding away from other horses in the group, especially from a horse that has a buddy.
- Depending on temperament and experience of horses and riders in your group, you may ride abreast (shoulder to shoulder).
- Try to avoid horses that do not like your horse or vice versa.
- Wear bright colors during hunting seasons. A blaze-orange hunting vest, some are reversible, so you can wear a softer color other times of the year.
Items to Consider Packing
- Cell phone
- Health papers/Coggins Test
- Easy Boot *Good to have in case your horse has lost a shoe. No Easy Boot? No problem, a diaper, vet wrap and tape can be used.
- Map, compass, other GPS tracking
- Horse and human first aid kits
- Whistle *Less effort to use in an emergency.
- Halter/lead rope *Good to have in case bridle, reins, or bit breaks.
- Rain gear
- Hoof pick
Whether you are taking a short ride or a weekend trip, keep these safety guidelines in mind before you hit the trails.
Basic safety procedures and practices are essential in providing a safe and enjoyable experience for both you, your riding group, and your horse.
Courtesy of Penn State Extension