What are YOU Packin’?
Chances are, if you’re reading this article, you’re a horse person. And, being a horse person, you’ve probably seen your share of warning signs posted at your local barn, citing the dangers commonly associated with being around horses and/or horseback riding—and with good reason! We riders of these 1200 (avg) pound animals, take all of these concerns to heart and STILL choose to climb into the saddle. But, no matter how many signs you see, how many articles you read, or how many stories you hear, you MUST prepare yourself for emergencies BEFORE they occur, as we also know that it’s not a question of IF you’ll have to deal with an emergent situation; it’s WHEN! And, the safety precautions don’t end at the barn gate; they get adapted for the trail!
In this article, I draw from my lifetime of riding; my years of managing a horse boarding facility; and, various horror stories I’ve heard along the way, to share my favorite and most effective safety tips for preparedness on the trail—for both equines AND their humans.
Because preparation is KEY here, you’ll find two checklists I’ve prepared and posted on this blog for you to utilize in creating your own first aid kits for the trail: the First Aid Kit for Mounts, and the First Aid Kit for Riders. Both include tips on using the items.
NOTE: Turn your cell phone on Airplane Mode while riding. Keep your eyes and ears on the trail! Eyes between their ears.
Dawn’s Tips for Safety and Preparedness on the Trail:
Designate an area—be sure to create a specific area in your saddle bag, or attach a First Aid bag to your saddle, in which to keep your safety and first aid needs easily accessible. You may even wish to put a red cross on that section, should someone else need to locate it.
Water— It’s LIFE! Pack it; drink it; repeat.
Helmet—Wear one! Your brain will thank you.
Cell Phone—you NEED a cell phone for so many reasons these days (such as utilizing the GPS tracking system for tracking your mileage), but in safety terms, for phoning and providing specifics on your location, should you require emergency personnel.
Identification—Carry identification on yourself, AND a way of identifying your horse as yours, should you two get separated. I created laminated cards: one for me, and one for Layla, and I keep one in my boot, and the other in Layla’s saddle bag.
Sunblock—The higher the SPF, the better! Can also be used on your horses’ blaze!
Tube of Lip Balm—no matter where you live, if you’re going to be out in the sun, wind or snow, you don’t want your lips getting chapped and cracked. Keep one in your riding pants.
Duct Tape—Indeed, there is little this invention can’t do, but on the trail, it acts better than any tape you’ll find in your first aid kit. I had to use this on my beloved Conquistador (TTH Winner, Jan. 2016), when he broke his lower leg as we cantered home on the trail one night. Although he ultimately lost the war (bless his gigantic heart), I WAS able to create a boot with duct tape and get him back to the barn a quarter mile away .
Sunglasses—Don’t burn out those retinas! Give your eyes a break while you’re riding, and invest in a good pair of shades.
Knife (or a multi-tool with a knife)—be sure you’ve got a knife and/or multi-tool on hand that can be used to remove any rocks from a foot, or possibly even remove a loose shoe – a common problem if your trails are rocky; also useful with first aid supplies.
Lighter/Windproof Matches—In case you need to create a fire; but be certain you fully extinguish it before you leave the site.
Meltproof snacks—Keep a few oat granola bars or salty snacks on hand (without chocolate in the summer) to keep your energy up without creating a melty mess in your bag.
Altho, no amount of preparation can save you and your horse in EVERY situation, and this is by NO means an all-encompassing list of all the tips out there, I hope I’ve helped you create and/or maintain a safety protocol that will keep you and your horse healthy and happy on the trail.
RIDE ON, Top Trail Horse competitors!!! I’ll see YOU on the trail!!!!
Challenges—Ways to win with Top Trail Horse
Top Trail Horse Challenge
Leaderboard is monthly, based on total mileage for the month, has three divisions, awards given
Top Trail Rider Challenge
Leaderboard is quarterly, based on total mileage for the quarter, has three divisions, awards given
Trail Master GPS Rider Challenge
Based on the number of rides logged by the rider for the quarter, has three divisions, awards given