Trail riding – it is certainly one of my favorite equine-related activities, especially in the fall! Honestly, nothing beats a Saturday morning ride in October: crisp air, colorful trees, leaves crunching beneath the horse’s feet, and the dew on the grass.
And although for equestrians, this may be a favorite time to ride, for hunters, this is also a favorite time to, well, hunt. So before you tack up and ride out, keep in mind these few safety tips:
Dress your horse brightly
– even though the hunter/jumper world is often about conservative colors, fall trail riding should be the exception to this rule. Choose brightly colored saddle pads
and protective boots
to dress your horse. Quarter sheets
often come in brighter colors, and can be useful on cooler days as well. You can even add a colorful ribbon to their tails.
Choose your outfit wisely
– your brown insulated jacket or vest will certainly keep you warm, but it will not keep you visible. Swap out your super conservative schooling attire for something bright
! If you don’t have another option, you may even consider purchasing a reflective, pull-over vest, specifically for trail riding.
Keep a calendar
– ask your barn manager to post a calendar of the dates hunting season runs in your area. There is likely a safe day of the week (usually Sunday) or time of the day for riders to head out.
Stay on marked trails
– as fun as it is to go “trail-blazing,” fall is not the time to do it. Stay on cleared trails that you are familiar with. This lessens your chance of running across a hunter in a tree-stand who will likely be less than thrilled you are there. In addition, and this should go without saying, watch for signage. If an area of your woods is clearly marked “No Trespassing,” avoid it.
– if the property around your barn is not trail-friendly, or your concern during hunting season is heightened, consider hauling out to a local park where hunting is not permitted. This is a great way to enjoy the weather and your colorful surroundings safely.
Ride smart. Ride safe. Fall is a wonderful season that we as horse owners need to soak up, because it only means the dreaded winter is around the corner. Take advantage of all the fall riding activities around you; hunter paces, fox hunting, trail riding, and more!