Image: Copyright © David Lewis http://www.flickr.com/photos/highwayoflife/4858110740/lightbox/
It’s a beautiful day, you and your horse are feeling great so why not head out on a trail? Trail riding is a great activity for any style of rider, and any horse. Here are some tips to stay safe while you are out on the trail:
- Wear a helmet- Even if you are riding an old lesson horse than never spooks, wear a helmet. Anything could go wrong at any time, and a helmet can be your lifesaver. Never head down a trail without a safe, well-fitted, helmet on your head.
- Do a little warm up- Before heading out on the trail do a little arena warm up to make sure your horse is responsive. You should easily be able to stop, turn, and have control at all gaits before trail riding. If your horse is not responding, take it back a few steps and work on these things before heading out.
- Check your tack- Make sure you are using well-fitted good quality tack that is not going to break. There is nothing worse than tack breaking out on the trail.
- Make sure you and your horse are in shape- If you have not ridden your horse in a month, chances are he is not capable of a 20 mile trail ride. Make sure the ride you choose is within both you and your horses current fitness level.
- Wear bug and sun protection- You don’t wait to get stuck on the trail with sunburn and bug bites. Make sure you and your light colored horse have on sunscreen and insect repellant. Wear light colored, long sleeve shirts for best protection. If flies are really bad, consider putting a fly bonnet on your horse.
- Check the weather before you ride- Never head out if there is a big chance for a thunderstorm, or other threatening weather.
- Take a friend with you- never trail ride alone and always tell a third person where you are going and when you plan on coming back.
- Stay a safe distance- when riding with other people it is important to stay a safe distance apart. When walking, stay 1 horse distance apart, 2 when trotting, and 3 when cantering.
- Think things through- Before crossing any obstacles make sure to think it through. Are me and my horses physically fit enough to handle that, is my horse calm enough to cross that, is it safe if we cross that. never put you or your horse in a dangerous situation.
- Pay attention to your horse- Be prepared for anything. although chatting with friends down a trail is fun, make sure you are in tune with your horse.
- Do a proper warm up and cool down- Before heading out on a trail warm your horse up a little with light riding or longing. When you get back cool your horse off and let him relax a bit.
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