Written by: Larissa Cox
Over the next few posts, I’ll be focusing on safety. Hopefully, many of you will find these posts interesting and informative.
For many people, trail riding is the only way to ride! But if you’re anything like me as your main objective the show arena, trail riding can provide that welcome break on routine for both you and your horse. However, before you go out onto the trail, here are a few suggestions.
Before you leave the yard, tell someone where you plan to go and about how long you will be. Check the weather and dress accordingly. If you’re planning for an afternoon trail ride, pack snacks and drinks. This isn’t a safety issue, but I always enjoy munching when I’m riding. Also make sure that your horse has been offered water before hitting the trail.
Wear your helmet and proper boots. Know your horse! Your horse should be calm and safe around traffic and should be reasonably well schooled and obedient. The more familiar you are with your horse and his body language, the better you’ll be to recognize trouble signs, such as pinned ears and tensed muscles.
Your tack should be looked at and sturdy. Replace any tack that is suspect. If you plan to tie your horse during your trail ride, take along a halter that can be put over the bridle and a lead rope. Remember never to tie your horse by the reins.
It is recommended that you take a hoof pick, a pocket knife, cell phone and a small first aid kit with you during your ride.
Be aware of your surrounds so that you can anticipate any potential trouble spots. Any situation can be a trouble spot on the trail from riding around that bend where a dog charges the fence and barks up a storm, to a bird taking flight across the trail. Your horse might be initially spooked, but if he knows that you are aware of the problem and have dismissed it as a non-threat, more than likely your horse will relax. Remember that an alert rider predicts threats and reassures their horse upon exposure to a threat, whereas a nervous rider predicts threats and only makes matters worse.
If you come across another group of horses, know that the tail ribbons are not meant for decoration but have meaning. There are basically four colors of ribbons that you might see on the horse’s tail: red, green, blue and white.
Red ribbons signify that the horse is a kicker, so don’t crowd from behind. A green ribbon means that the horse in inexperienced and more than likely will misbehave so approach with caution. A blue ribbon indicates that the horse is a stallion. This is very important especially if you are riding a mare. A white ribbon signifies that the horse is for sale and is likely not to be seen on a trail.
Enjoy the ride, Larissa.