7 Tips for Safe Trail Riding
Exploring the countryside on horseback is enormous fun when you’ve mastered the proper horse riding techniques. Before embarking on your next adventure, you can further increase your safety on the trails with these 7 tips for safe trail riding.
Ride with a Friend
No matter how experienced a rider you are, or how quiet your horse is, it’s safer not to ride alone. If either of you gets into trouble, someone’s there to help.
But if you’re training a horse to go out by himself, tell someone where you’re going and when you’ll be back. That person can then conduct a search if you don’t return on schedule.
Take Your Cell Phone
Have your cell phone on your person. If it’s on the saddle and you fall off, your horse will bolt home with it. A cell phone enables you to call for help or let your barn family know you’ll be back later than expected.
You can get cheap cell phone cases which strap to your arm or leg.
Ride a Sensible, Regularly Exercised Horse
My local trail riding association conducts its annual outing opposite my house, and the riders set off in groups of three – which is very sensible.
However, at least one person takes a horse which hasn’t been ridden for months. Several miles out, the animal dumps his jockey and roars home. These incidents invariably involve a rescue helicopter.
Ride your horse regularly at home before taking him on the trails!
Ride on a Calm Day
Most horses become spooky in strong winds, even in familiar surroundings.
Especially if you’ve not taken your horse trail riding for some time, or if he upsets easily, wait for a calm day before venturing out.
Avoid Steep Hills If….
Hills are useful for muscling up a horse and increasing his stamina. But it’s not smart to ride steep ones, especially:
In wet conditions, as there’s the risk of slipping
If you’re on a hot horse.
Unless you’re an experienced rider who can handle the animal, a steep downward slope is where he’s likely to buck you off.
If you’re not used to riding acute angles.
Read Hill Riding Safety and find some gentle slopes to practice on.
Take a Hoof Pick
When a horse suddenly goes lame on a trail ride, it’s usually from a stone or other sharp object stuck in his hoof.
If you’ve brought a hoof pick, you can dismount, quickly remove the item, remount and be on your way again on a sound horse. This is preferable to walking home!
Practice Unconventional Mounting
In situations like the above you’ll have no mounting block to help you back into the saddle.
At home, practice getting on from unfamiliar objects, and mounting from the right side.
Then it won’t be a problem if you have to mount from a tree stump or from the ‘wrong’ side when you’re out on the trails.
Taking these 7 simple precautions will add to the safety and enjoyment of your trail rides, and improve the quality of time spent with your horse.