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Happy Trails

It is a beautiful day, perfect for a trail ride. But before you unload your horse at a nearby trail head or venture off into the open space around your home or barn, there are a few things to keep in mind that will keep you and your horse safe and make your ride more enjoyable.

Trail Riding Tips

  • Before you hit the trail it’s important that you tell someone where you’re going and when you should be expected back. If no one is at the barn or you are home by yourself, either leave a note or a message letting someone know your riding plans. Carry a cell phone with you, set on vibrate so your horse won’t spook if the phone goes off.
  • Bring everything you and your horse need. It is a good idea to have the horse wear a halter with an attached lead rope under your bridle, especially when riding on a long trail ride if you want to tie your horse up during a break. Also, make sure you have any special equipment your horse needs such as hoof boots for rough terrain.
  • If it is a hot summer day bring fly repellant for both you and your horse. An ear net or fly mask and lots of fly spray is usually enough to keep pesky flies at bay.
  • Warm up before you leave for the trail or when you arrive at the trail head. This will allow your horse time to settle in and get him listening to you. If he is acting up when you arrive at the trail, it is better to work through it before you get down the trail when you may not have enough room to move.
  • Practice obstacles that you may encounter on a trail ride while at home. Create puddles with a hose, put logs on the ground, desensitize him to sudden movements and sounds. Expose your horse to all the things he might see on the trail while he is in a comfortable environment first before setting out.
  • During your ride be aware of any hazards that may come up such as mud, fallen trees, or a water crossing. Be aware of what your horse can handle and take him on a trail that fits his ability level.
  • When riding with others, make sure you allow enough space between horses and keep horses that don’t get along separated. Be sure never to leave a rider behind. Horses do not like being left behind and this could result in a horse panicking and bolting.
  • Stay at a pace that all riders in the group are comfortable with. If you are increasing your pace faster than a walk make sure all riders are aware of the gait change and can easily control their horse at that speed.
  • On the way home it is best if you walk your horse back to the barn or trailer. Going any faster can result in horses getting too anxious and becoming out of control. Walking is also a great opportunity to cool out.
  • After your ride, finish cooling the horse out, groom him, give him plenty of water, and check his feet for any rocks he may have picked up on the trail.