When you go out of town with the family, you eat in local restaurants, shop in local stores and go horseback riding at local stables. Most tourist towns have trail riding opportunities where you “rent” a horse for an hour on a guided tour along the river or through the woods. This can be a great experience for adults and children alike if you know some trail riding safety.
Look Around the Stable
It is never a good idea to go trail riding on vacation at a stable where the horses aren’t properly cared for. When you see piles of manure all over the ground, moldy hay, dirty horses and lots of mud, you might want to find another stable for your horseback riding experience. A stable that doesn’t take care of their horses probably doesn’t take very good care of their customers, either.
When you go to a horse stable on vacation, the wranglers will ask you about your experience with horses. Usually, you can respond by categorizing your abilities as novice, intermediate or advanced, or some variation thereof. Whatever you do, however, don’t lie about your experience level. They ask you this question to determine what type of horse you can handle, if you claim to be more capable than you are, you might be over-horsed. Obviously, this is a big safety consideration, so make sure you are honest when trail riding.
Wait for Directions
At most trail riding stables, there will be horses tied up down a line and you will be pointed toward the horse you are expected to ride. For safety reasons, don’t mount your horse or even approach him until you’re given the go-ahead by a stable employee. You don’t know those horses and they don’t know you, so don’t start your vacation with a broken leg because you couldn’t follow directions.
Get in Line
The stable employees will put the entire group in a line according to riding ability and with consideration for horses that may or may not get along. When you are asked to fall into line, make sure you follow these directions explicitly. If you wind up behind a horse that doesn’t like yours, your safety is compromised and you might wind up getting kicked.
Very little steering is required on the part of the rider at trail riding stables because the horses know the path they’re supposed to take. But don’t encourage your horse to venture off the trail to examine a beautiful plant or just to be adventurous. For your safety, it’s important that you remain on the trail in the order in which you started the ride. If you need to stop for any reason, call ahead to the trail leader for permission.
Hold Your Reins
The most important thing to remember while trail riding on vacation is that your reins are your friend. Make sure to keep ahold of them at all times or you could be jeopardizing your safety. If the reins fall to the ground and your horse steps on them, he could snap the reins (at best) or break a leg (at worst). If necessary, hold the reins in both hands to keep a steady grip.