Below are some helpful reminders for preparation for a successful ride. Other than safety considerations, appropriate gear and preparation are the keys to success on the trail. There may be other items you wish to add to this starter list over time. Keep a copy in your tack room or trailer and jot down items to add to the list as you think of them. Some trails will require the use of all of these items while other trails will not require many of them at all.
Water (Clean 5 gallon gas can labeled H2O only works well.)
Hay / Hay cubes / Grain
Grooming supply / Hoof pick
Shoes / protective boots
Fly spray / mask /leg guards
First Aid Kit
Leg wraps / trailer wraps (before and after ride and for emergency)
Health papers / Coggins test
Hay bag / Feed bag
Tie line / ties
Saddle & Headstall
Halter & Rope
Pad / blanket
Cinch / Girth
Extra halter & rope
Extra leather pieces & Leather punch
Protective boots (rider) & Shoes (hiking or driving trailer)
Extra Clothing for Weather changes
Tools / tool belt (Can leave these with the trailer but I carry a multi-tool often.)
First Aid Kit
Fire Starting Kit
Trail Map in plastic covering
Cloth (clean) or diapers (compression wraps)
Duct tape or Sports tape
Eye / wound ointments
Pain reliever / Benadryl
Plastic bag (container or captures water)
General Trail Guidelines / Trail Manners
1) Practice good trail etiquette and common sense. SAFETY IS FIRST!!!!!!
2) In general when using public trails, all others yield to horses, EXCEPT for humans / hikers. Therefore, horses have the right of way. There are some exceptions to this rule and situations where it is beneficial for horses to yield to others. Communication is KEY when using joint trails!
3) If there are pack-strings present, the packed horses have the right of way above all other horses.
4) When riding in steep terrain, horses moving downhill should yield to horses moving uphill.
5) Always carry a trail map and make sure an individual at camp or at home knows where you are riding, your route and when you are expected to return. This is important in emergency situations.
6) Communication is VERY IMPORTANT. If you are the leader, you are responsible to let others know if you are stopping or moving out or changing gate. Consider the safety of the group before you act.
7) Be Prepared - you are responsible for your horse and for obtaining the skills needed to work with that horse. There is nothing more damaging to a ride than participants that are unsafe or those that cannot manage their horse.
8) Horses are herd animals. Be sure to ride with proper spacing and have a plan to stop your horse should it spook.
9) Practice at home. If you have planned a trip, do your research. Know what you will encounter and practice it before your arrival. This will make the trip much more smooth. (tie to a trailer or line, hobble the horse, other) Enlist an instructor or professional if you need help.
10) Match your speed to the terrain. It is physically demanding to go both up and downhill. Do not ask your horse to trot or lope up or down the hill unless necessary. Choose flat, visible surfaces to lope or trot.
11) Horses that kick are a training problem. If they are on the ride, they should be in the back of the line so they do not have the opportunity to practice this poor habit. Warn others by tying a string in the tail. All horses may kick if they feel crowded, practice good spacing to prevent kicking.
12) Help your horse over difficult objects such as logs, deep mud, streams by giving a loose rein and allowing them to pick their way over the objects. (This assumes your horse is trained to cross trail objects.)
13) Know your impact on the land! Always stick to trails in parks, always ask permission to ride on private property and stick to where the owner allows you to ride. Do not destroy preserved areas with excessively large amounts of hoof prints.
14) If you are riding with the group, stick with the group unless you have planned and discussed it with the group in advance. This is considerate and polite.
15) Leave pets at the trailer or at home. We all love the family dog but no matter how well behaved the dog is, it may cause a wreck by moving underneath horses, running off and or getting lost. Having a dog leashed and tied to a horse can also be dangerous for the handler and others.
16) Check with the US forest service, county or state park office or land owner for specific trail rules to that area.
Feel free to add to this list as you learn and grow in your trail experience. Happy Trails!!!