After all, all we’re doing is riding. And when it’s just one or two people it really DOESN’T matter. But when we get groups of 4 or more, those trail guidelines become real safety issues. Here’s how:
- Stay behind the trail bosses. Why? Well, they know where they’re going, and are responsible for the group. If a horse bulldozes past and runs ahead, many other horses feel they have to follow–and get very upset when their riders don’t let them.
- Stay on the trail. Why? Sometimes it’s because of protected plants, lurking cactus and other “biting” plants, hidden gopher holes or boggy ground.We don’t always know why, but the managers of our riding areas WANT us to. If we want to continue using these places, we have to follow THEIR rules.
- Be mindful of your horse. Why? Because s/he can really affect (good and bad) ALL the other horses. Is he pinning his ears, moving into the paths of others behind you, running up close (or even bumping or biting) the horses in front? Some horses don’t mind, others REALLY act out. Don’t take a chance, and be respectful of others. Pay attention of how your horse’s actions are affecting others.
- Watch your speed. Why? Too slow and you’re way behind the pack, too fast and you run everybody over. If one horse in the group stops, everybody should stop. If you fall behind, DO NOT run up behind the group. Call out and ask them to stop and wait.
- Speak UP! Nobody else will know if you’re concerned about the speed, length of ride, how your horse is responding to another, or any other issues UNLESS you say something. We encourage people to tell others (nicely?) to keep a reasonable distance, allow passing (announce your intentions), etc.
- Remember that groups must ride to the abilities of the least experienced horse and/or rider. If you want to move out faster than the main group, talk to the trail boss BEFORE the ride begins. You may be asked to leave with the “faster” group 10-15 minutes before the slower group.
We don’t want to seem like fuddy-duddies who rain on other riders’ parades. We DO want everybody to have a great time and all arrive back at the trailers intact, with no scares or “involuntary” dismounts. The key is clear, up front communication. Ride on!