Trail Riding Etiquette

February 20, 2017 3 min read

Trail Riding EtiquetteDepending on where you live, there is a good chance you experienced a warm front this weekend. We saw so many social media posts about how wonderful their weekend riding was. We had one rider share about riding in Michigan where the weather topped 60 degrees! That is unheard of for that part of the country. Many riders took advantage of the beautiful weather by hitting the trails, so we thought it was a great time to share about trail riding etiquette. The rules of riding safely and courteously are simple, but sometimes easy to forget.

We invite you to share this list on social media to remind others of the importance of being courteous on the trails and safe around other horseback riders.

First and foremost, always where a helmet. There are thousands of stories of seasoned horses tripping or spooking that resulted in a rider injury. Those that ride with a helmet greatly reduce the risk of a massive head injury. This seems like a no-brainer, but so many still mount up without protecting themselves. Trail Riding EtiquetteThink of the whole group when embarking on a trail ride. It is smart to make sure as a group you ride at the skill level and speed of the least experienced rider. This helps to make sure everyone has fun and the ride is safe. Before you set out, nominate a trail boss. This is typically someone on a lead horse that knows the terrain or has the map. This person needs to be a great communicator to ensure that the whole group stays on the same page and is aware of things that may come up during the ride. For example, if the group encounters pedestrians with dogs walking on the trail or cyclists using the same trail, it is helpful to make sure everyone knows in the event that there are young or spooky horses on the ride. Carry your cell phone on your person, not in a saddle bag. In the event that you fall off or your horse gets loose, you can call for help if necessary. Also, it is helpful to have a fetlock id band or id collar or bridle tag in the event your horse gets loose. If you have a cranky horse that tends to kick or has other special considerations, it is customary to use colored tail ribbons to help others remember to take care while around your horse. A red tail ribbon indicates a horse that is prone to kick out. A blue or yellow tail ribbon indicates a stallion. A green trail ribbon reminds other riders that this horse or rider is a novice. If you are riding on state land or private land (with prior permission), make sure to stay ON the trail. With state land, typically it is marked well and can also be shared with walkers, cyclists, atvs and even hunters. This is also a great place to mention that if you ride where hunting is allowed, make sure you and your horse wear bright colors and stay off those trails especially during peak hunting times. Last but not least, keep you and your horse as comfortable as possible before, during and after the ride. From poll pads, saddle pads and leg wraps for your horse to elbow and knee braces, scarves, gloves and more for you. You will ride better when you feel better and your horse will perform better to. It's a win win. Oh, and one last bonus tip - HAVE FUN! For many horses hitting the trail is outside of their normal routine, so do it often. It's good for you as a rider and for your horse's mental health as well!


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