Be Prepared

You and your horse need to be ready long before you leave town for a trail ride.

You and your horse need to be ready long before you leave town for a trail ride.

Janice Tramel and Ghost One Gray at Yellowstone National Park
Janice Tramel and Ghost One Gray at Yellowstone National Park

A veteran of more than 50 AQHA trail rides, Janice Tramel of Locust Grove, Oklahoma, speaks from experience when she advises trail riders on preparedness.

Long before you leave home, “you need to prepare you and your horse,” Janice says. “You need to ride every day, to get you both physically fit.”

Your horse needs to be fit enough to handle challenging terrain and heat without having a medical emergency, and riders need to be ready for the demands of a long ride.

“If you’re not physically fit, you’re miserable after about the first 45 minutes,” she warns.

As you and your horse are getting legged up for a big trail ride, let your veterinarian in on your plans. Your horse will need a Coggins test and, if you’re crossing state lines, a health certificate. Other states might have different health requirements, so Janice’s vet puts in calls to the agriculture department of each state Janice will be traveling through.

Your vet will also make sure your horse is current on his West Nile vaccination.

Your farrier should also play a role. Your horse needs to be well shod before you hit the road.

Get tips for selecting the right tack for your horse. Buy AQHA’s “Tack Talk” DVD today! AQHA members get a discount!

Consider these items for your saddle bag:

Sharp knife
Lip balm
String or leather for tack repair
Hoof pick
Insect repellent
Rain poncho

Trail Tips

  • Dress in layers.
  • Offer your horse water before starting on the ride and allow your horse to drink on the trail when water is available.
  • Tie a red ribbon in your horse’s tail if he has a tendency kick.
  • Maintain space between you and the next horse.
  • Stay on the designated trail with the group, and do not run past others, which could cause a wreck.
  • Rule of thumb while trailering horses. Stop for 45 minutes every four hours to let your horse stand and rest.

Get AQHA’s “Tack Talk” DVD and become a horse tack expert! Learn how to care for tack and maintain its safety. And learn to choose the best tack options for you and your horse based on your disciplines.

Horse Hotels

These sites can help you plan trips with your horses.

3 thoughts on “Be Prepared”

  1. I also carry a glo stick in my saddle bag just in case dark settles in before we return. just attach it to your breast strap & it will light the way.

  2. My husband and I want to do some overnight camping with our horses. What is the best, i.e. safest, way to tie them overnight so they can sleep and be well rested for the next day’s trail ride?

  3. I like to ride every evening and I live in AZ since I don’t get off work until 5p and by the time I get home it is getting dark I bought glow sticks that work on batteries and I have different colors for each saddle but I put one on the breast collar as Beverly has suggested but I also put them on each corner of my saddle plus I have a blinking bike light I turn on and its attached to the seat of my saddle so that even people coming up behind me can see the blinking lights. Most importantly I try to stay off the road or as close to the edge as I can do to traffic we don’t get a lot but you never know.

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