Trail Riding Etiquette

Contributed by Kathy Thistlethwaite

Sharing trails with pedestrians, cyclists, landscape crews, city workers, etc...

  • Right-of-way: While the rider has the right-of-way, this courtesy isn't always known, or respected.

  • Start a conversation. Many horses are more relaxed once they identify the "foreign object" as a person.

  • Be respectful of people who are afraid of horses - give them a wide berth to go around, keeping your horse under control ("he won't bite" will never be believed).

  • Be an ambassador to the sport of trail riding - be open to Q & A from other trail users.

  • Those conversations can be great de-sensitizing moments for a bike-wary horse.

  • A friendly conversation can come back later as a future trail rider supporter.

  • Stop and let the kid pet your horse when it's safe to do so.


Cell phone use

  • Hang up and ride! Enjoy the trail and your present company.

  • If you have to make/take a call, pull off to the side of the trail and stop while you attend to business.

  • Condition your horse to the ringtone of your phone.

  • Have emergency numbers easily available.

  • Cell phones should be carried on your person. A loose horse with the cell phone in the saddlebag isn’t helpful in an emergency.


Riding in groups

  • Goal - EVERYONE in the group comes back safe and happy.

  • Ride to the level of the weakest rider/greenest horse (hopefully they're not together).

  • Don't leave a rider behind.

  • Horses are herd animals, cater to that "safety in numbers" philosophy.

  • Horses may panic if they think they are being abandoned by the herd.

  • Facing the last horse can often calm it down while it catches up to a group (a good strategy when waiting for obstacles to be completed in a trail trial).

  • Respect warning signs - any horse, suitably annoyed, can kick or bite.

  • Ride with distance between you (don't tailgate!).

  • Red ribbon in the tail - give extra distance - may be a kicker with excellent aim.