Whether you’re an avid trail rider or just enjoy the trails once in a while, it’s important you know what to expect. Riding in the wilderness without the confines of a fenced arena can be an exhilarating adventure, but also very challenging. Get prepared by following these top ten pieces of advice! It’ll change your entire experience.
1) Condition your horse ahead of time: Make sure your horse is fit enough for the demands of the trail you expect to complete. Prepare him in the weeks before by slowly increasing the length of your rides. Even shorter rides can be exhausting when they include unlevel terrain and unique obstacles like logs and rocks.
2) Know the route: Choose trails that are easy to follow and marked clearly. Plan ahead and know the length of the trail.
3) Check your tack: Don’t risk it with broken or very worn tack. Trail bags are perfect for rides because you can store a hoof pick, water, cell phone, and other miscellaneous items.
4) Find a friend to ride with: Choose a fellow barn mate to hit the trails with. It’s safer to ride in a group, especially in the event of an emergency.
5) Set a good pace: Don’t rush through the ride and exhaust your horse halfway through. You also should be considerate of less experienced riders and never push them until they’re uncomfortable.
6) Practice obstacles ahead of time: It’s a great idea to bombproof your horse and work on some of the things he might encounter. Depending on the location, dogs, bikes, and loud children could be possible. Other times, bridges, thick logs, steep cliffs, and narrow passages might be prevalent.
7) Be a good steward of the land: Follow the rules of the park or area where you’re trail riding. Ride on horse trails only, park your trailer in the designated areas, pick up after yourself and your horse, avoid the rainy/muddy season, stay on the trail, and be considerate of other non-horse people.
8) Know trail etiquette: Be respectful of the other riders. This can include sticking together, not riding extremely close, letting others know if your horse kicks, being patient with less experienced horses and riders, and waiting until everyone gets over the obstacle before moving on.
9) Use the time to train: Yes, trail riding should be relaxing, but don’t let your horse bully you. He shouldn’t race back home or fly up hills. Don’t allow him to push your leg into trees either.
10) Reward your horse: After a long ride, hose him off, if the weather is appropriate, or give him a good grooming.
Try to relax and have fun! Trail riding is one of the most popular riding disciplines out there.