Trail riding is a great way to see the countryside, spend time with your horse and get some exercise. Proper preparation — for yourself and your horse — can make the day even more enjoyable.
Set your expectation according to the level of experience and ability of both yourself and your horse. Start slowly and close to home for your first few rides. Then, as you gain more experience, you can go for longer rides and find new places to ride.
Before beginning the ride, make sure your horse is accustomed to all the equipment you will be using, such as saddlebags or anything else hanging off your saddle. If you are going to wear a hat or big jacket, make sure you have introduced your horse to that apparel as well. Horses can freak out and take off bucking for all sorts of reasons.
Things to always have with you:
- Rain jacket
- Cell phone
- First-aid kit
- Emergency contact information
- Hoof pick
Season Specific things
- Hunters vest during hunting season
- Extra food
- Rubber “Easy Boots” which slip over a horse’s hoof to protect it from rocks and wear.
- Rattlesnake kit
- Compass or GPS
- Gun or rifle, in case an injured horse must be dispatched on the trail.
Other good ideas:
- Let someone who is not accompanying you know where you are going.
- Give that person an expected time of return.
- Provide your contact information.
- Make sure he or she knows who to contact in case you do not return.
- Do not ride by yourself.
- Have fun!
These tips apply to day rides. Overnight rides have different packing requirements and are for advanced riders only.
Some great places to ride locally include:
- Lory State Park
- The Poudre Canyon on the Roosevelt National Forest
- Horsetooth Mountain Park
- Eagles Nest Open Space
- Red Mountain and Soapstone Prairie Open Space
- Devils Backbone
There are several local riding groups on Meetup.com and if you are at CSU check out the Mountain Riders Horse Club.
For more tips, check out the free handbook from the American Quarter Horse Association.