One of our absolute favorite things to do with our horses is trail ride. We have two thoroughbreds and two draft horses. They all have special characteristics that we know we need to watch for when riding. But ultimately we can only control our horse the best we can – we need to prepare for our surroundings and environment which is even less predictable. I wish I could say our horses are predictable but they are just like people – good days and bad days.
So how can we best prepare for our trail rides to be as safe as possible?
- Always wear a helmet. Don’t get me wrong, I hate messing up my hair just as much as the next person. But I have also seen so many people get hurt pretty bad even with a helmet on. Why tempt fate by not wearing a helmet? The helmet should also be an equestrian helmet due to their special features. However, in the absence of an equestrian helmet I feel strongly that any helmet is better than none!
- Wear brightly colored or reflective clothing. We always wear brightly colored clothing when on the trails, especially when we ride during hunting seasons. However, it is entirely appropriate to wear brightly colored or reflective clothing at all times because when you are on the road to and/or from your trail, you want drivers to see you so they can adapt their driving to horses and riders being on the road.
- Know the roadway before you ride. It is important to know where the road is wider, narrower, heavy traffic, dead ends etc… If the road is not very wide you will need to know exactly where you have space to step off the road, out of the way of a careless driver.
- Gravitate towards roads that are wide and/or have areas to escape. Although we all want drivers to be conscientious, they are not always. In fact many times they are reckless and careless.
- Always work on groundwork before taking to the trails and roads. Horses spook – but teach them if they need to spook, they need to spook in place. You don’t want to be thrown off or have a horse take off on you. Groundwork is critical – it builds a safe place for your horse to learn to respect and trust you – and vice versa.
- Learn hand movements to signal drivers
- Ride with traffic as far to the right as possible.
Now you know the safety rules for horseback riders but what about car, truck and motorcycle riders? You will encounter those that love to scream out a window, speed by, blow a horn etc… Anything to be disruptive. When stuff like that happens you hope and pray your horse can deal with the disruption. But many cannot resulting in a rider falling, being thrown or worse. This can result in serious injury up to and including death. If this happens you may need to search for a personal injury attorney in Tampa to help take care of what you need so you can focus on healing and moving forward.