5 Tips for Better Trail Rides

With lovely summer weather around the corner, most horseback riders are eagerly planning their trail rides. Trail rides are an excellent way for you and your horse to experience new scenery, get exposed to new things, and have an adventure together. But before you hit the trail this spring/summer, check out these tips for a successful trail ride.

Plan for Your Trail Ride

Choose a Safe Trail

Before heading out to the trail, research as much as possible. You will want to choose a trail that fits your skills and capabilities. Trails vary in distance and difficulty. It is best to start on shorter, easy trails. As you gain experience and your horse gains endurance, you can increase the length and difficulty of the terrain.

Check Your Conditions

Weather and trail conditions change frequently. It is best to check on them before you depart. While rain or snow may not stop you, you can bring the correct equipment to support your ride. Even hot temperatures demand more water for you and your horse. Hazards can develop suddenly on the trail. Check with local reports to ensure you have the most up-to-date information.

Packing Essentials

Collect all the items you will need on the trail. Vital items are:

  • Water
  • Snacks
  • Maps
  • Compass
  • First aid kit
  • Weather-related gear
  • Cell phone or emergency alert device
  • Saddle Bags 

Be Safe on the Trails

Trail conditions can change constantly. You may encounter obstacles such as a fallen tree or a water crossing on the trail. Guide your horse around the obstacle slowly. If you come across rushing water, find a calmer area to cross. If necessary, you may need to dismount so that you can lead your horse around the obstacle. You must always choose safety above all else.

Prepare Your Horse

Condition Your Horse

Trail riding can be an intense exercise for your horse. To increase your horse’s stamina and endurance gradually, mix in different terrain climbs and gait speeds.

Check Your Tack and Adjust

Before leaving for the trail, inspect your tack. You will want to make sure you have all the necessary items for riding. Confirm that your saddle fits correctly and does not cause discomfort to your horse. Additionally, check your bridle for overall condition and fit. If items look damaged, replace them. Broken tack several miles down the trail is not something you want to experience!

Trail Ride Etiquette

Trail etiquette is a way for everyone to enjoy the trails and stay safe. Riders and hikers often use trails. You should yield to the hiker as a rider, as they have the right of way. If you need to pass another rider going in the same direction, pass slowly and announce your intention to do so. Additionally, stay on designated trails and follow all signs for guidance. When using the trail, you want it to be as if you were never there. Do not leave behind belongings or garbage.

Post-Ride Care

Horse Care

Riding on trails is a lot of work on your horse. Before heading home, it is important to cool down your horse. Ensure their temperature and heart rate have returned to normal before turning them out or putting them in a stall. This can help avoid joint and muscle injuries. If your horse is sweaty, a cooler can help wick moisture away from their coat, encouraging them to cool down and dry faster.

Clean Tack

Your riding instructor has paid this a million times, but it is much easier to clean tack right after riding. Complete a quick cleaning of your saddle and bridle. If your saddle pad and wraps are sweaty, spray them down with a hose and hang them out to dry. This will ultimately prolong the life of your equipment.