Horseback Riding

Mind Your Trail-Riding Manners

October 3, 2011

Learn to be safer and more polite on the trail, Part 2.

Be more courteous to others in your trail-riding group by following these etiquette tips. Journal photo.

By Essie Rogers of the Kentucky Horse Council

Need to review Part 1 of these trail tips?

Part of good trail etiquette is ensuring that you are respectful of trails and land areas.

This begins with your arrival at the trail head. Ways to become a better land steward include:

  • Park only in designated areas.
  • Keep your muck in the trailer and dispose of it at home or in a designated area.
  • Tie only to your trailer, designated tie areas or using a safe high tie (do not tie directly to trees).
  • Keep your horse moving while he passes manure on the trail.
  • Take out everything that you bring in. Pack it in, pack it out.
  • Stay on the trail – do not create pass arounds.
  • Only enter waterways at designated crossings.
  • Avoid muddy trails. If you have to pass through mud, do so at a walk.
  • Obey all signage. Do not ride in non-horse areas.

In AQHA’s FREE How to Tie a Rope Halter report, expert tack maker Dennis Moreland explains in simple terms how to fasten a rope halter.

  • Abide by all voluntary trail closures.
  • Collect muck and scattered hay from your tie site and dispose of it at home or in a designated area.
  • Fill in any uneven areas created by you or your horse.
  • Follow the Leave No Trace ethics.

Courtesy is another important part of enjoying the great outdoors on horseback. Many trails are open to a variety of users (hikers, mountain bikers, dog walkers, etc.), and it is important that we communicate with others in a productive manner. When you encounter other users on the trail, make it a positive experience by:

  • Talking to them.
  • Asking them to step off the downhill side of the trail while you pass.
  • Sharing the number of riders in your group and asking them how many are with them.
  • Desensitizing your horse at home.

You should be courteous to other members in your riding party by:

  • Waiting for gate openers/closers.
  • Waiting for all horses to drink before leaving a watering area.
  • Moving downstream to allow other horses ample room to drink.
  • Waiting for riders who might be having a hard time crossing water with their horses.
  • Waiting for riders who have dismounted or are off for any reason.
  • Not running up behind or alongside other riders.
  • Passing on the left.

A poorly tied rope halter can put your horse in danger, so it’s worth your time to learn how to properly use it and keep your horse safe with AQHA’s FREE report All Tied Up.

If your horse exhibits behaviors that require special consideration, you should tell all members of the riding party about those issues and place a ribbon of appropriate color in your horse’s tail and mane. The following are common ribbon color codes:

Remember to keep an eye on safety, obey land stewardship rules, be courteous and wear all the right ribbons to have an enjoyable ride every time.

More information on safe trail riding can be found in the Certified Horsemanship Trail Guide Manual.

Additional information on trail-riding etiquette can be found online at http://njaes.rutgers.edu/pubs/publication.asp?pid=FS370 and http://www.kentuckyhorse.org/attachments/wysiwyg/5/Trail_Etiquette_Reminders.pdf.