CBIZ Sattler Adventure Sports Blog

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Ward, Hayden
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Trail Ride Safety Tips for Outfitters

Horse Trail Ride Safety Tips

Exploring surrounding areas by horse is one of the best ways to get a new perspective and check out the land's most scenic features. To keep fun a part of your group’s day, preventive planning for trail rides is key. When an animal is thrown into the equation, it can be difficult to judge all possible outcomes. Evaluating your gear, warming up the horses and guests, and taking extra precautions before heading out on the trail will provide you with more peace of mind. 

Checkoff These Six Trail Ride Safety Tips 

1. Proper Gear is a Must

When it comes to trail ride safety, proper gear is always needed. Inspect your tack and make sure it is in good working order. Inspecting tack often includes assessing the condition of leather, screws, and other components to assure they are oiled and free of tears or thin areas that may cause equipment failure during a ride. Check all pads and equipment parts that contact horse for anything that may poke or rub on horse causing irritation and bad behavior. 

It is a wise idea to re-inspect half way through the ride as the horses’ gear can loosen or unhinge. Don’t overlook the hooves of your horses. Unwanted objects can build up underneath their hooves causing pain and irritation to the horse.

Just like horses need proper gear, so do humans. Provide your riders with helmets to help limit injury if anything occurs. Advise your guests to come dressed in bright clothing so they are easily identifiable on the trail. Don’t forget to ensure they are also wearing proper shoe attire.

Proper gear also includes trail basics such as a well-stocked first aid kit, a non-digital map in case you lose service, snacks and water. Even if you know the area well, storm damage can make the surrounding area unfamiliar. It’s important to be able to lead your guests back to safety.

2. Check the Trail

Over a short amount of time, major change can occur. It is the leader’s responsibility to check the condition of the trail before taking guests on it. If possible, head out before the day begins to scope out any potential risks. Large branches blocking the trail, new ditches, and extreme currents in water crossings are all scenarios needing evaluation before starting a trail ride.

Though the horses know the terrain, it is best not to play around if any surprises occur. Keep in mind your guests most likely will not know the trail or what to do if the environment provides obstacles.

3. Don’t Forget the Weather

Before heading out on the trail, check the local weather. Do not head out if there is severe rain, snow, or any warning of storms. A sunny, warm day is ideal for a successful trail ride. According to Horse & Rider, “Frigid or especially windy weather can make even calm, well-mannered horses flighty. (Cold air is bracing, and wind makes it hard for prey animals to tell where scents are coming from, causing them to feel extra vulnerable and jittery.)”

4. Warm Up the Horses and Riders

Allow time for the horses to stretch and warm their muscles before heading out. Use this time to get the horses acquainted with the riders. Begin by letting them walk, then trotting and proceeding from there. The colder it is outside, the cooler their muscles will be and the longer it will take to warm them.

If a rider is not connecting well with one horse, this is a good time to switch them. It is key that the horse and rider are comfortable with each other. This is also a good time to make sure the equipment being used by a rider fits and is safe for them to use. Check to see if the footwear of the rider fits properly into the stirrups without hanging up. Don’t forget to make sure the saddle provides movement for horse, and is not sitting where it should not be. If the saddle doesn’t fit correctly it can cause behavioral problems for even broke horses.

5. Identification is Key

Place identification tags on each horse’s saddles or saddle pad. Include your horse’s home location, a phone number to reach you, and an emergency contact number (just in case you are unreachable). You can purchase waterproof pouches at your local hardware store and write down the information on an index card. Check these tags each time before heading out to make sure they are still legible and each horse has one.

Riders should provide their safety information on waivers prior to the trail. Instruct them to carry their cell phones with them at all times in case they become unreachable or lost. Do not let riders place cell phones in or on the saddle. Horses can become spooked by cell phone vibration and sound. If riders do not keep their cellphones on themselves, an issue could arise where their horse leaves them and the rider has no way to get ahold of anyone. Have guests carry their phones in a backpack or attached to their arm to alleviate problems.

6. Rain or Shine Protection

Outfitters have to go beyond basic safety tips before and when they are out on the trail. They are expected to pay attention to their horses and their riders in order to prevent dangerous situations. Leave insuring your business’ safety to us. Get the protection you need today and  request a free CBIZ Sattler Adventure Sport Insurance quote. Adventure more and worry less with the right coverage!

This blog may contain scenarios that are provided as examples only. In an actual claim situation, coverage is subject to the terms, conditions and exclusions of the policy issued. The information provided is general in nature and may be affected by changes in law or the interpretation of such laws. The reader is advised to contact a professional prior to taking any action based upon this information.

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