Trail riding is a great way to take a break from the arena or training and spend quality time with your horse. Although going on a trail ride is the perfect opportunity for you and your horse to unwind, it is important to make sure you’re prepared for your adventure. We sat down with Kim, Jeffers Equine Specialist, to find out the must haves for a safe trail ride. Follow along as we outline the top safety essentials to pack when taking your horse trail riding.
Protecting your melon may seem like a no-brainer when competing or training, but it’s important to wear a helmet anytime you ride a horse. Even the most trained horse can be spooked or trip over a root and go down, potentially taking you with them. As scary as it sounds, accidents can happen anytime, especially when we are comfortable and let our guard down.
Luckily, there are several brands and styles of both english and western riding helmets, so you can choose the helmet that suits you best. Before riding, ensure your helmet fits properly, hasn’t been dropped or damaged, and is less than five years old. Remember, it’s essential to ensure you are both prepared and as safe as possible to avoid any potentially dangerous situations.
As always, when spending time outdoors away from the pasture or barn, make sure both you and your horse have plenty of food and water. Check with the riding facilities beforehand to see if there are any available water sources and pack accordingly. Since it is common for horses to be “put off” by water they are not used to, be sure to bring plenty of your own just in case. Products like the Horse Hydrator, a portable filtration system, help remove chemicals, minerals, bad tastes, and smells to help encourage horses to drink more away from home. Also, be sure to bring feed and hay your horse is used to eating, and don’t forget to pack a hay bag and water bucket.
If you’re going on a day trip, bring snacks and a lunch if you’re going to be out all day. If you’re camping, obviously, you’ll have to bring a lot more water and food than you would if you were going for a quick day ride. There are also trail riding accessories such as insulated water bottles you can attach to your saddle for easy access when riding.
Protecting your skin from the sun’s harmful UV waves is essential when trail riding or anytime you are out with your horse in the sun. Wearing sunscreen on your skin, an SPF lip balm, and even UV clothing helps you have fun in the sun while remaining protected. If your horse has white on their face or nose or pink skin, which can sunburn easily, sunscreens like Sunflower Suncoat Spray can help their skin remain protected from the sun too.
Also, make sure you are both protected from flies and other pesky insects you may run across on the trails. Fly sprays and repellents, such as Pyranha Wipe N’ Spray Fly Spray, helps make sure your horse is protected while riding. Spraying an insect repellent on your skin before riding, like No Natz Bug Repellent and No Mosquitoz helps keep you protected from pesky insects too.
Just like when you’re going hiking, it’s important to keep your phone on you in case of an emergency. Bringing a battery backup for your phone helps keep your phone charged in case you don’t have access to a charging source. Keeping your phone charged is essential so you can call for help if there’s an accident or you become stranded.
Also, make sure your phone is on you and not in the saddle bag. This ensures that you will have the phone with you if you are separated from your horse. Phone holders that wrap around the arm or leg like The Horse Holster are great options to help you comfortably store your phone on you while riding. If the trail has a map, make sure to take a copy with you just in case. If not, you can use a tracking app to outline your steps in case you get lost or turned around.
Even if you decide not to take your entire grooming kit, it’s important to always bring a hoof pick with you on trail rides. You never know what your horse can pick up on a trail. With a hoof pick, you can easily remove unwanted debris, such as rocks, from your horse’s hooves. If your horse is shod, make sure you bring a hoof boot, such as The Natural Hoof Shoe, in case they throw a shoe.
Before you hit the trails, it’s essential to pack a basic first aid kit for both you and your horse. This kit should include emergency items such as flexible cohesive bandages, antiseptic ointment or solution, gauze pads, scissors, blood stop powder, and hydrogen peroxide. Remember to pack band-aids and any other first aid materials specific to your needs, such as medications, too. Make sure to put all of the emergency supplies in a separate bag that will fit into your saddle bag.
As we mentioned before, horses are very sensitive to the smell and taste of water. This can cause them to not drink as much water when they are away from home. As always, ensure the water is clean and fresh, and give it to them slowly at first. If they are drinking enough to quench their thirst, allow them to drink freely.
Just in case they are not drinking enough water, be sure to bring along some electrolytes to help them replace the fluids lost from sweating. Not only do electrolytes help replace lost fluids, but they also encourage horses to drink more water, making them an essential item to bring on your adventure.
Perfect for keeping all of your trail riding accessories in one place, saddle bags are great to have when you hit the trails. Before riding, make sure your horse is used to carrying a saddle bag with things in it. This helps make sure they are familiar with the feeling before you hit the trails. There are several different types of saddle bags to choose from, including pommel bags, which sit in the front of a saddle, and cantle bags, which sit behind you. Whichever type works best for you, saddle bags are great for carrying emergency items and essentials when trail riding.
When you’re exploring the trails, the temperature or weather can change at a moment’s notice. Make sure you bring a horse blanket or sheet to help protect your horse from the elements, especially if you are camping overnight. It’s also a good idea to pack rain gear, such as a waterproof turnout sheet for your horse and protective clothing for you, in case the weather takes a turn for the worse.
It’s important to bring an extra halter and lead when taking your horse trail riding in case one snaps or breaks. If you are camping, be sure to pack a comfortable halter for your horse to wear during the night. You may want to bring some baling twine with you too, which is useful many situations, including making an emergency halter or lead if one breaks. Also, if you are keeping your horse tied to the trailer at any point, using a safety tie ring helps make sure they can break away safely in case of an emergency.
Lastly, you may want to bring a grooming kit or a few grooming tools such as a curry comb to help remove dirt from your horse’s coat after riding. It is also important to inspect your horse’s tack for damage and ensure it fits properly beforehand. Also, it’s always a good idea to let someone close to you know where you’ll be riding, and don’t forget to check the weather before the trip so you can plan accordingly.
You may have heard a family member or friend say they are bringing an item “just in case” when packing for a trip. “Just in case” packing is a good mindset to have when preparing to take your horse trail riding. Since you are exploring an area away from home, it’s important for you to have the items you may need. A good example of a “just in case” item to bring is the Trailer Aid. This product is perfect in the event of an emergency because it is a quick and easy way to safely change a flat tire on a trailer. So, if you see something and think that might be good to pack, bring it if you can.
Trail riding is a fun and rewarding experience for you and your horse. Preparing for the trip helps you focus more on relaxing, enjoying the adventure, and bonding with your horse.
For more information on preparing your horse for a trail ride, check out Jeffers’ blog Fall Trail Riding: Preparing Your Horse.
Searching for more riding essentials? Check out Jeffers’ full line of horse supplies for a large selection of riding supplies for both english and western riders.