For many people, horseback riding is an immensely enjoyable experience. Unlike many activities, it allows the rider to engage into a partnership with their mount, working as a team to get the most out of every minute in the saddle. Due to the capabilities of many horses, horseback riding allows for exploration of remote or less traveled areas that may be difficult or impossible for a person to access on foot. Many horses are specifically bred for their hardiness and bravery, making them perfect choices for a long or short term journey. However, there are several things that a rider must be mindful of in order to ensure a happy and safe experience overall.
The choice to wear appropriate safety gear is perhaps one of the most important decisions any rider can make. Although some riders may feel awkward when first wearing a riding helmet or body protector, most should become used to the sensation in a very short amount of time, and the peace of mind that such equipment brings is invaluable. There are certain types of helmets and body protectors for different riding styles, so users who specialize in a particular type of riding will want to shop around for items that offer both comfort, and suitability for specific uses.
Sunglasses are of particular importance for anyone who plans to embark on all-day trail rides. For users who have sensitive eyes or wear contact lenses, it would be well worth investigating special types of sunglasses that are intended for use with motor sports. Although these sunglasses can often cost over a hundred dollars, such an item may be a wise investment, especially for riders who are frequently bothered by dusty conditions, as commonly seen out on the trail. These sunglasses usually feature a foam seal around the eye area, which allows the eyes to breathe, while offering protection from debris. Since a horse relies on their rider to help them be aware of changes in terrain such as holes or muddy areas, it is important for riders to ensure that their vision is unhindered at all times.
Before heading out, riders should take care to inspect their riding gear, including their saddle, bridle and halter. Stirrup leathers and girth straps should be checked especially well since these items would be hard to repair if they were to suddenly break during a trail ride. Riders who use safety stirrups which include a breakaway elastic component to prevent a rider’s ankle from becoming trapped within the stirrup should stash a few extra elastics in their saddlebags, to stay prepared in the event that an elastic band should suddenly break. Since this part of the stirrup receives a lot of pressure from the rider’s foot applying constant resistance, these elastic bands should be replaced every few months, even if they still seem to be in working order.
Riders should be keenly aware of both their own capabilities and that of their mounts. When possible, riders should carry a cell phone if they will be riding in an area where cell phone reception is available. If they will be traveling through a remote area, they should plan to tell at least one other person of their intended route, as well as their expected travel time, in case of an emergency. Riders should be aware of any limitations that may be present within their mounts and take care not to push their horses too hard, especially in harsh weather conditions.
Riders should always bring an excess of food and water for both themselves and their horses, so that they will be well prepared for whatever lies ahead. A hoofpick and a spare halter are both essential tools to ensure a horse’s comfort and safety throughout the trip. If a horse picks up a stone in their hoof and it causes lameness, it could spoil the entire trip. Therefore, users should carefully check their horse’s hooves during each rest break or when stopping to camp for the night.
Long distance trail riding can be a rewarding and unforgettable experience. However, it is important to exercise common sense and keep the above tips in mind to ensure a comfortable trip for both horse and rider.