Heading out on the trails is a great way to enjoy a summer day. But in order to keep the experience enjoyable for everyone, there are some common courtesy rules that you should follow. Is your trail riding etiquette up to par?
As more and more open space is developed, it’s important for horseback riders to stay on good terms with landowners and the general public. When you trail ride, only use trails that are designated for horseback riders, and stay on the designated trails. If you have to travel across private property, ask the property owner’s permission first. Then, pick your route carefully to minimize any disturbance to the property.
When you’re trail riding, always carry out anything that you carried in with you. If you travel along neighborhood roads, it’s common courtesy to return with a pitchfork and bucket after your ride to clean up any manure that the horses have left behind. Making these simple efforts can help ensure that you and your horse remain a welcome presence along the trails.
Riding the Trail
When trail riding in a group, leave plenty of space between your horse and the horse in front of him. Coming up quickly behind another horse can cause the horse to spook or speed up, both of which can be unsettling for the rider. Only travel abreast when there is sufficient space to do so safely; you don’t want your horse crowding or fighting with another.
Communication is key in a good group trail riding experience. All riders should indicate when they are going to change gaits so that everyone is prepared. If you’re having difficulty with your horse, let other riders know so that they can keep themselves and their horses out of your way.
It is also common courtesy to only ride at the level that the least experienced rider (or the rider on the least experienced horse) is comfortable at. Discussing each rider’s comfort levels before leaving the barn can help keep the entire group on the same page about what the trail ride will involve. Once on the trail, don’t pressure a rider to do more than they’re comfortable with. Keep your horse with the group and don’t suddenly turn away from the group or decide to go off on your own. Doing so can frustrate the other horses and make the experience unenjoyable for the other riders.
Good trail etiquette can make trail riding fun for everyone involved.
Image Source: flickr.com/photos/kissheartoffl/3704493693