Summer is the perfect time to take your horse on a trail ride. The days are long, it’s all green and beautiful outside, and you’ve probably been working your horse again. However, taking your horse on a trail ride isn’t something you can just up and go do. It’s something that requires preparation. The last thing you want is to get into a situation out on the trails because you weren’t prepared.
Here’s what you need to know about some helpful tips for taking your horse on a trail ride. Stay safe out there!
#1. Ensure Your Horse Is Fit Enough
Since most people just walk their horses on trail rides, you may assume that there’s no need for any sort of conditioning. However, this is not the case. There’s a difference between horses walking around flat arenas, round pens, and pastures versus walking on a trail with varying inclines and terrains.
Trail riding is the equivalent of hiking for your horse, and just like hiking for humans, different trails have different difficulty levels and horses need to be fit enough to safely go on the trail ride. If your horse gets tired and decides that they’re done while you’re out in the middle of nowhere, you’re stuck.
Get your horse used to working again before you take them on a trail ride. If your barn has inclines or hills in an outdoor arena or something, work your horse on them. You want to take a physically fit horse on a trail ride, not a pasture pet that you ride once in a blue moon.
#2. Work With Your Horse
When you’re riding in an arena, you generally want your horse to listen to you. However, when you’re out on the trails, work with your horse. There may be times when you need to give your horse its head and focus on just sitting balanced while your horse figures out the best route for you both. Your horse will be able to sort out its footing and keep you both safer if you work together.
Similarly, while you ride in an arena, you typically want to sit upright. But if you’re going up and down hills, this can change, as you want to keep your horse balanced. If you’re going up a hill, lean forward. If you’re going down a hill, lean back. Depending on how steep the incline is, you may end up leaning very far in one direction or the other – this is ok. You want to stay balanced while also making it as easy as possible for your horse.
If you’re crossing water, this is another instance where you’ll likely need to give your horse its head. In some cases, water can make horses and riders dizzy, in which case, it may be easier to get off and lead your horse across.
#3. Pack Your Bags
No one wants something to happen on the trails, but as the age-old saying goes: better safe than sorry. Pack your saddle bags so that you’re prepared for anything that might happen. Snacks and water are no-brainers, but you also want to pack a first aid kit in case something happens to you or your horse out where there are no doctors or vets. You also want extra reins and a girth, in case any tack breaks.
You never want to tie your horse with a bit in their mouth, because if they pull against it, this can hurt them. As such, bring a halter and lead rope. You also want bug spray, for you and your horse. A jacket or poncho are a good idea in case of inclement weather. Plus, some grooming materials.
Of course, you want to bring your phone, but this isn’t something that you want to pack in your bags. In case your horse runs off, you don’t want to be stranded without a phone. Keep it on your person at all times – you also don’t want to set it down and then your horse accidentally steps on it or something.
Don’t make the mistake of assuming that you only need to pack such things if you’re going on an endurance ride or something. You never know what you may need on the trail.
Ensure Your Horse Is Hydrated Before And After
These are just three of the things that you can do in order to strive for a safe trail riding experience. Watch this space, as our next blog will have further tips for safe trail riding. Before you go on a ride and after, make sure that your horse is hydrated.
Bar Bar A makes it easy to keep your horse hydrated with our automatic horse waterers. They connect right to your water lines so that regardless of the time of year, your horse always has easy access to fresh, temperate water.
Contact us today to learn more about our automatic waterers.