Trail Riding – By Heather Bashow
Trail Riding Guidelines This set of rules, designed by the Kingston Trail Riding Association covers the basics and encourages a responsible code of conduct for trail riding clubs.
1. Members and guests must be 18 years or older because of liability issues.
2. The host and President of the trail riding association have the authority to enforce all guidelines. Any rider found in consistent violation will be asked to leave.
3. Riders must be mounted and ready to ride at the designated start time, or miss the ride.
4. Members are responsible for seeing that their guests have read and are willing to follow guidelines.
5. No drinking, smoking, or dogs allowed on rides. Smoking may be an exception if the host designates a smoking area. A host may also bring their own dog on their own property, if it is safe around horses, but they are asked to list it as a “hazard” in the ride description since some horses are not used to dogs.
6. Stay on the designated trail, following the pace of the host, and respect the environment. Never litter, and remember to take out all you bring. Riders will ride as a group, and stay behind the host, unless permission is given to pass by the host.
7. Do your best to bring a horse that is in physical and mental condition for the particular ride. If a horse is obviously lame or unsound, the owner will be asked to forego the ride.
8. Present a good image to other trail users. Stopping to talk and answer questions, slowing to a walk, and presenting a neat appearance all help to make you welcome on the trail.
9. Do your trail training with friends as much as possible, or on small rides before joining a large ride. An out-of-control, frightened horse is dangerous to you, and others on the trail. If you find yourself in trouble with your horse, dismount and lead your horse past whatever has frightened it.
10. Respect private property. Ride around the edges of pastures, and close all gates you open to pass through.
11. Many parks and national forests require that you have third-party insurance. Often it is included for everything but showing, within your existing home policy. Check to be sure you are insured.
12. Be sure your tack is in good condition. Check your reins and billets, and on western bridles check that the Chicago screws are tight.
13. If you aren’t positive your horse won’t kick, braid a red or colorful ribbon into his tail.
14. Watch the horses around you on a ride. If the one in front is uncomfortable with you nearby, give it more space. Watch your own horse’s attitude towards other horses, and move to a different position if you sense he is uncomfortable.
15. If you want to pass another rider, let them know, and tell them which side you will pass on.
16. Let the drag rider know if you have to leave the ride early.
17. Be sure to read the ride description so you are not unprepared for something like a bridge or water-crossing that might bother your horse. Be sure your guests are informed of all ride details as well.
18. Ride single file on the edge of main roads, in the direction of traffic. When crossing a road, do it as a group when all can go safely at the same time.
19. Rides are RSVP. Sometimes a larger group can be divided into two rides, and the host will need to plan for a co-host. Also, a change of plans or cancellation is generally only communicated to those known to be attending.
20. Remember to bring all you need for each ride, whether it is sunscreen, lunch, drinks, first-aid equipment for your and your horse, food and water waiting for your horse at your trailer, or extra clothing.
21. Ride responsibly without showing off. Remember that everyone has new horses to start at one time or another, or novice riders joining the ride. Be aware of what is happening around you, and make an effort to keep your horse under control.
22. Clean up after yourself and your horse before you pull out for home.
23. Finally, hug your host! Without them, we would not have the rides.