Trail riding is an activity that gets you out in nature, lets you bond with your horse, and leave the arena, but it also comes with risks. When you’re out on the trail alone, those risks can be heightened. However, that should not keep you from experiencing the freedom and peace that comes with riding solo.
Here are five tips to ensure a safe and fun horseback trail ride when riding alone.
1. Plan Your Route
Before heading out on your solo trail ride, make sure you plan your route carefully. Choose a well-known trail that is familiar to you and let someone know where you’ll be going. This way, in the event of an emergency or accident, help can easily find you. Avoid trails with difficult or unfamiliar terrain, especially if you’re riding alone.
2. Bring a Map and a Phone
Even if you’re familiar with the trail, it’s always a good idea to have a map handy in case you get lost. Make sure to also bring your phone fully charged in case of emergencies. If possible, download offline maps before your ride, as phone signals can be unreliable in remote areas. Carry a satellite phone if you’ll be in the backcountry and truly out of cell service. It’s great to disconnect from technology, but give yourself the option to call for help if needed.
3. Ride with Caution
When riding alone, it’s even more important to stay alert and aware of your surroundings. Keep a safe distance from other riders or hikers you may encounter. Always be prepared for unexpected obstacles such as fallen trees or sudden changes in terrain. Be smart, and think ahead through every situation. It might be fun to take that side trail you’ve never been on, but consider how far in you’ve already ridden. Is there enough daylight to get back before dark? Are you confident in your horse’s abilities and training to go off trail?
4. Carry Essential Safety Equipment
Make sure to pack essential safety equipment, such as a first aid kit. Carry saddlebags, and be prepared for common situations that might arise. Have a hoofpick handy, water, snacks, and basic equine first aid supplies. These items can come in handy in case of an emergency or if your horse experiences any issues on the trail.
5. Know Your Limits
It’s important to know your limits when riding alone. If you’re not confident about tackling a certain trail or obstacle, it’s better to err on the side of caution and turn back. Remember, the safety of you and your horse is always the top priority. This applies to knowing your horse’s limits as well. If he doesn’t like to cross water, work on that before hitting the trail solo. Is he in good enough condition for a long ride in rough country? Do you know how he handles when he spooks at something? Be prepared before heading out alone, by introducing him to scenarios at home, first.
Riding solo can be a thrilling experience, but it’s essential to take precautions for a safe and fun ride. By following these tips, you can enjoy the freedom and serenity of horseback riding while minimizing the risks. So saddle up, hit the trail, and enjoy your ride!