Trail riding on horseback has become quite popular over the years, making it a family fun activity for everyone to enjoy. Winter, Spring, Fall or Summer makes horseback riding enjoyable because the weather is usually mild. And what better place to participate in this activity then Virginia! With beautiful mountain views, rolling hills, meandering creeks, and a plethora of wooded areas, trail riding in Virginia can be easily accessed. But before you saddle up your horse (or rent one), here are some guidelines that should be followed to keep you and your loved ones safe.
- Be familiar with your surroundings and the trail you are riding, making sure it wouldn’t be easy to get lost.
- Master basic skills such as getting the horse to go, stop, turning and having control.
- Make sure your horse is desensitized to louder noises and traffic of all sorts (people, vehicles, other horses) and making sure you can control the horse if they become spooked.
- Maintain one horse length between other horses on the trail. Horses will kick if something is too close to its rear.
- Before you take off in a trot or canter, check with others in your group. Horses tend to follow other horses and some riders may not be experienced for this skill.
- When you have a mixed group of riders make sure experienced rider is in front and one in back.
- Horses feel safest in a group and some may panic if they feel deserted. Keep all riders in your group together, although experienced horses and riders may be fine venturing off alone.
- At water stops, wait until all horses are done drinking before leaving the watering place. Some horses won’t drink if they are distracted by the fear of being left behind.
- Make sure to wear a helmet and adequate riding gear for the environment.
Above are just some guidelines recommended by Horse Talk Magazine to keep in mind while enjoying the trails with your family. Most important is to keep in mind your own level and skill, don’t push yourself or family into something that is not safe. Trail riding can be a fun and exciting activity for everyone but one scary ride or incident can ruin the experience. Most of all enjoy the great outdoors with your family, take plenty of pictures and have fun. Happy Riding!