A special connection
There’s nothing quite like the relationship that a rider has with their horse. A beautiful and elegant creature, a horse isn’t just a ride; it’s a companion, a friend and a source of pride that lives its life under your guidance. Taking your horse on a trail ride fuels this alliance no end, treating each of you to fresh air, new surroundings and shared experiences. Below are our tips for a journey that is enjoyable, productive and, most importantly, safe.
Prepare your horse for all situations
Your planned trail ride could be along anything from a river to a beach, so chances are that it’s relatively quiet and serene. It could be a little-known stretch of farmland or a popular choice for fellow riders, and usually it will have minimal traffic and crowds. Still, before being taken on a trail ride, your horse should be gently and effectively desensitised to various situations. If your horse isn’t used to lone riding, take it to a controlled environment first to increase its confidence, starting with short excursions and building up to longer rides. Once this has been done, your horse should be ready for everything, both natural and manmade.
Respect the etiquette of the trail
If riding with others, make sure to maintain one horse length between horses at all times. In the event of a mixed-levels group, put more experienced riders at the lead and the end to assume control when required. If you plan to trot or canter, check with the group first so that everyone’s on the same page. When it comes to crossing roads and train tracks, do so as a group where possible so that no rider is left behind. This last tip is more for the wellbeing of the horse rather than the rider, as horses feel safer as part of a group when confronting frenetic and loud circumstances.
You obviously know that you need to drink plenty of water on the trail, but it can be easy to forget about the horse. As the old saying goes, you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink; this is something to bear in mind, as some horses take their time to drink when in unfamiliar or busy surroundings. Make them feel safe and give them time, and soon enough they’ll gulp down their fill before you carry on along the trail.
Be firm but fair
In the end, you’re the boss. However, whilst you want to do everything you can to make the ride safe, efficient and enjoyable, it’s good to give your horse a little leeway now and then. Examples are if your horse frequently stops to bite grass: rather than pulling straight back on the reins, instead try pulling to the left or right, encouraging movement as opposed to admonishing errant behaviour. If your ride is in a hurry when you’re not, encourage it to move in a serpentine motion along the trail, as this will both slow and calm it in a natural way.
Even popular trails can prove dangerous. If the weather is wet or frosty, you could encounter anything from slippery paths to buffeting winds. Damp, mossy or uneven areas should be approached with caution, and always remain in the centre of the saddle so that your horse remains balanced throughout. Most of all, keep an eye out for threats and dangers, as it’s your job to keep your horse safe, not the other way around.
Use your Ridersmate
Regardless of how experienced you are at horse riding, accidents can still happen. An alarming statistic is that 50% of people who fall from a horse suffer serious injury, preventing them from getting back to safety or using their phone to call for assistance. This is where Ridersmate comes in, keeping you in contact with people who can help if an emergency should arise. Be cautious, have fun, and always carry Ridersmate.
Image credit: Wikipedia