Trail Riding Etiquette

Contributed by Kathy Thistlethwaite

Sharing trails with pedestrians, cyclists, landscape crews, city workers, etc...
  • Right-of-way: While the rider has the right-of-way, this courtesy isn't always known, or respected.
  • Start a conversation. Many horses are more relaxed once they identify the "foreign object" as a person.
  • Be respectful of people who are afraid of horses - give them a wide berth to go around, keeping your horse under control ("he won't bite" will never be believed).
  • Be an ambassador to the sport of trail riding - be open to Q & A from other trail users.
  • Those conversations can be great de-sensitizing moments for a bike-wary horse.
  • A friendly conversation can come back later as a future trail rider supporter.
  • Stop and let the kid pet your horse when it's safe to do so.

Cell phone use
  • Hang up and ride! Enjoy the trail and your present company.
  • If you have to make/take a call, pull off to the side of the trail and stop while you attend to business.
  • Condition your horse to the ringtone of your phone.
  • Have emergency numbers easily available.
  • Cell phones should be carried on your person. A loose horse with the cell phone in the saddlebag isn’t helpful in an emergency.

Riding in groups
  • Goal - EVERYONE in the group comes back safe and happy.
  • Ride to the level of the weakest rider/greenest horse (hopefully they're not together).
  • Don't leave a rider behind.
  • Horses are herd animals, cater to that "safety in numbers" philosophy.
  • Horses may panic if they think they are being abandoned by the herd.
  • Facing the last horse can often calm it down while it catches up to a group (a good strategy when waiting for obstacles to be completed in a trail trial).
  • Respect warning signs - any horse, suitably annoyed, can kick or bite.
  • Ride with distance between you (don't tailgate!).
  • Red ribbon in the tail - give extra distance - may be a kicker with excellent aim.
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