7 Tips to Keep Your Horse Safe on the Trail

Horseback riding is a fun and exciting way to explore the great outdoors. Whether you’re a seasoned rider or a novice, it’s important to consider the safety of both you and your horse when you’re out on the trail. Here are seven tips to keep your horse safe on the trail.

First, make sure your horse is in good physical condition. Before taking your horse out on the trail, have a vet check them over to make sure they’re healthy enough for the ride. Also, make sure your horse is adequately shod to protect their feet from the terrain.

Next, check the trail for any potential hazards. Look for areas of uneven ground, rocks, and other obstacles that could be dangerous for your horse to navigate.

Third, bring a first aid kit with you. You never know when your horse might get hurt or suffer an injury. Having a first aid kit on hand can help you quickly address any issues that arise.

Fourth, bring plenty of water and snacks. Make sure your horse stays hydrated and has access to food throughout the ride.

Fifth, use appropriate tack. Make sure your saddle fits your horse properly and that your bridle and reins are in good condition.

Sixth, wear a helmet. A helmet will help protect you if you fall off your horse.

Finally, be aware of your surroundings. Keep an eye out for other animals, people, and vehicles that could pose a danger to you and your horse.

By following these seven tips, you can make sure your horse is safe and secure while out on the trail. Have fun and enjoy the ride!

7 things to teach your trail horse

Make the most of your trail outings this season by revisiting a few basic training exercises now.

For most of us, trail riding is all about relaxation and enjoyment. When you leave behind the rigors and repetition of arena work, you can simply savor the experience of being in the saddle and perhaps getting to know your horse a bit better.

But sometimes a trail outing becomes a test of wills—and your skills. It’s hard to relax on a ride punctuated by successive spooks or interrupted by refusals to cross water or pass “scary” objects. And it’s exhausting trying to control constant jigging or, conversely, squeeze a little momentum out of a sluggish mount. The disappointment is even greater if every other horse on the ride seems to be taking everything in stride. What is it about those horses that makes them so much more fun to ride on the trails?

Finding the answer means looking beyond specific incidents and frustrations and taking a broader view of your horse’s training. To perform well on the trail, a horse must have a good foundation, says trainer and clinician Jonathan Field from British Columbia, Canada. “People don’t equate the same level of prep for trail riding as other disciplines because it seems like such a simple endeavor,” he says. “But the people who are living the dream, they’re the ones who have put in the time to make that horse the best trail horse he can be.”

To set out on that path yourself, you may need to revisit a few basic training exercises. Many of these will involve skills your horse learned long ago but hasn’t had to use very often. Others will focus on gaps in training that can be fudged a bit in the security of the riding ring but become significant issues when you’re away from home. But, mainly, going back to the fundamentals will help you address larger issues of compliance and respect that underlie many trail behavior problems.

Here are the seven things to teach your horse to keep your trail outings as harmonious and enjoyable as possible.

Teach your horse to: “Big red flags go up when I see someone having trouble loading because it tells me about the willingness of the horse and if he has respect for the rider,” says Gary Woods, a frequent trail rider from Gilbert, Arizona, who is also my riding instructor of many years.

Loading into a trailer is basic to trail riding; you won’t get to many far-flung trails without a willing traveler. Although horses tend to be a little claustrophobic by nature, most learn to tolerate hauling, given enough time and patience. But loading problems are usually not just about getting into a trailer. They’re almost always about you and your horse, and where you stand in his estimation of your leadership skills.

I learned this the hard way years ago, when I called Woods to ask if he could help me retrieve my horse, Louie, from a friend’s backyard after he refused to load for two days. Woods said he could help, but that it would take patience, trust and groundwork. He was right. Today, Louie is a consistent loader. He hops into any trailer when asked, and just as important, once we arrive at the trailhead, he’s quiet, confident and a pleasure to ride.

“If the horse is stressed out the whole time he’s in the trailer, and he’s burned up every ounce of confidence he’s ever had, and he’s sweating and scared, how is he ever going to go on that great ride you want?” points out Field. If you take the time to teach your horse to haul safely and confidently, many other issues will resolve themselves in the process, he says. Along with gaining the horse’s trust, exercises such as sending him over tarps and driving him through narrow openings can help prepare him for loading and hauling, according to both Woods and Field.

Teach your horse to: A good trail horse will go willingly over obstacles, around rocks, down canyons and, especially, through water. “At some point you’re going to come to water that you have to cross, and if your horse refuses, you’re going to have a problem,” says Field.

Some horses are willing to cross water and go where you point them, either by training or by nature. Woods says he can tell a lot about a horse’s willingness by his response to pressure. “If I touch his rib cage, I expect the horse to move over. If he doesn’t, that doesn’t mean I can’t teach him to move off of pressure, but a good trail horse will already have that ability,” he says.

An unwilling horse is one of the more common problems for trail riders, but it’s also one of the more fixable ones, given the right training and leadership. Both Woods and Field do leading exercises to get the horse in sync with his handler’s body language. “If I’m not able to control the path on which my horse walks from the barn to the stall, why is he going to pay attention when we get out there and things get a whole lot more interesting?” points out Field, who expects his horses to walk stride for stride with him, just as they would with the herd.

“By having that level of sensitivity to the herd and awareness to every movement, they have no time to focus on anything else. Their focus is locked in on me, the leader,” he explains.

Teach your horse to: A good trail horse will keep a cool head no matter what is happening around him. A mare in season, a barking dog or a small-scale mutiny among the other horses on a ride—any of these situations can turn ugly if your horse overreacts. “I see this happen a lot. A horse in the group becomes animated and starts bossing other horses around, and someone’s horse explodes as a result,” says Field. Some? horses naturally have a calm and willing disposition, yes, but training, leadership and riding with intention can help to defuse any horse and bring him back to neutral in eventful situations.

“So many recreational riders are just going along. They’re not active in their intention, and the horse feels he has to look out for himself as a result,” says Field. Keeping your horse’s mind engaged while in hand or under saddle, and generally riding with purpose can help cooler heads prevail in times of high stress and uncertainty.

Teach your horse to: He has four of them, and he should know where they are and where you want him to put them next, says Woods. This is especially important when your horse is asked to scramble down a steep canyon of loose rock or to scoot around, say, a moving bike or low-hanging branch. I had some time to think about this recently as a small group of us braved a too-narrow mountain pass with a steep drop-off on one side. I remembered my conversation with Woods years ago, at a frustrating time when just about everything needed to be trained in or out of my little brown horse. “Give me one good reason why I should keep him,” I said to Woods, who replied, “Because he is sure-footed.” He was right, of course. Over the years, I’ve spent more than a few anxious moments in the saddle thanking my lucky stars that my horse could keep all fours on the ground during incredible circumstances and on tough terrain.

But what if your otherwise trail-worthy horse trips from time to time and sometimes seems a bit unstable? Woods and Field suggest getting him to pay attention to his feet by asking him to step over cross rails, around poles and through obstacles of all kinds, and the more uneven the ground, the better. “I’m never quite comfortable with a horse who’s raised on the flat because it’s like riding two horses. He’s bound to be out of balance so that if he gets in trouble on the front end, his back end can’t help him. Horses like this get trippy,” observes Field. He likes to back his horses up hills and down hills, and to get them to lift up their feet and round their backs when possible. “I want to see them get worked up and down hills in hand to figure out how to get themselves balanced, so that by the time I get on them, they have a pretty good idea where to put their feet,” he adds.

Teach your horse to: One day you’ll be ambling along the trail and, in the blink of an eye, you’ll come across a bear or deer or, more likely, a bush with fangs. Your horse’s split-second reaction should be to stop, not bolt, and to wait for your cue. “If I can wriggle the rein, and his ear comes around as if to say, ‘Yes, I’m here,’ that’s good. But if I try to wriggle my rein or touch him with my leg and he doesn’t move, that’s not good,” says Field, explaining that a refusal to move is almost as bad as a bolt—and, in fact, is a precursor to a bolt. “Anybody who has started young horses knows that the longer the horse takes to take his first step, the more he is going to come apart when he does because he’s stored up energy,” he explains.

Of course you can’t expect that your trail horse will never spook, but you’ll want to teach him not to overreact when he does. “He is going to spook at some time, so the question is how big is his reaction and how long is it going to be before he’s OK with it?” says Field. Simple observation can tell you a lot about how a horse reacts to new stimuli. Is he explosive without warning? Or does he take things in stride? Does he get worked up slowly and remain in a heightened state of alert for a long period? Or does he snort, approach the object of concern and return to a more relaxed state within no time?

Easygoing horses who quickly recover from surprises make the best mounts for trail riding. But it’s wise to spend time building any horse’s confidence. Trail challenge competitions and play days are great for desensitizing the horse and exposing him to new stimuli in a controlled setting. In addition, Woods suggests establishing a relaxation cue, such as a pat on your horse’s withers or a slight lift of one rein as a “Come back to me” or “It’s OK” cue as one more measure of control should your horse’s world turn upside down while ambling down the trail.

Teach your horse to: If your horse is friendly with his herdmates, that’s fine. But if he’s glued to the tail of the horse in front of him, that’s not. Likewise, if one horse in the group trots, your horse shouldn’t have to trot, too.

Seemingly little issues like these can become dangerous quickly if you’re separated from the group for any reason or if one horse bolts or starts acting out and your horse follows suit. “So often these horses live in small spaces, and they’re not used to horses coming and going. If their riders don’t fundamentally have the leadership to keep these horses with them, they lose control,” says Field.

To find out where your horse falls on the herd-bound spectrum, both trainers suggest watching him interact with his herd or taking him out for a ride alone. Does he call out to other horses or balk when leaving the property alone? Does he feed off the energy of other horses in the pasture? Does he readily back down when challenged by the herd? Or is he overly bossy?

An insecure horse is more likely to be herd-bound than a more confident one, but aggressive horses also exhibit a related behavior—a tendency to be bossy or pushy toward other horses, according to Woods.

He suggests exercises such as gradually lengthening the distance between you and other riders and keeping the horse’s attention on you at all times, which is at the heart of all herd-bound issues. “The reason he’s looking to other horses is because he doesn’t trust you, and that’s the number-one thing you need to develop in a good trail horse,” says Woods.

Teach your horse to: A good trail horse has to be able to go anywhere without issue. He won’t jig, grow anxious, or bolt for the barn at the first sign you’re turning for home.

Barn-sour horses typically lack confidence and have many of the same tendencies as the herd-bound horse, and they may even be attached to their herdmates as well as to familiar surroundings.

Horses who are more curious by nature or have been exposed to different environments early on are more likely to adjust to the novelty of trail riding, while habitually barn-sour horses are more predisposed to be anxious in new settings and situations, according to Field. He says that many horses fall somewhere between these two extremes and simply need more exposure to new and different surroundings before they make confident mounts.

“A lot of horses live in 10- by 10-foot pens, and suddenly they’re put out on the side of a mountain somewhere with little or no preparation whatsoever. You have to be willing to prepare them for trail riding like you would any other activity,” says Field, who advises ponying a young horse with a more experienced, confident horse when possible.

He also suggests slowly expanding the barn-sour horse’s zone of comfort around a familiar trailhead or arena to help him gain confidence and adjust to new environments.

There’s one last thing you’ll want your trail horse to have, but it’s not something you teach with lessons or exercises: It’s a good attitude. A good attitude trumps all other desirable characteristics in a trail horse simply because with the right attitude, he is more inclined to load willingly, get along with other horses, and keep his cool during times of excitement and uncertainty.

A good attitude means he’s confident in his abilities as a trail horse and he’s enjoying the ride to the extent that any horse can.

No doubt, your horse has already let you know his feelings on the matter. If he’s difficult to catch, balks or pins his ears at the merest suggestion that you’ll be saddling up for a trail ride, he could be telling you he doesn’t like his job and it might be time to reconsider his trail prospects. But if he nickers to you when you hook up the trailer, greets you at the gate, and practically puts on his halter himself when you go to catch him, you can be fairly certain he likes to trail ride.

A trail horse with this kind of attitude is worth his weight in gold.

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How to ride a horse for beginners (basics, safety, mistakes)

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Riding a horse for the first time can be equal parts exciting and terrifying. Maybe you’re scared silly (“That animal is HUGE!”), or maybe you feel like it’s going to be a breeze (“Tallyho, Silver!”). After all, the horse is doing all the work, right?

We want you to feel as relaxed as possible about your first rides, but there are some safety rules you should always follow.

Horses are one of the best things in the world – no argument from the Horse Rookie team, here–but they are also tall, heavy, and afraid of things like plastic bags.

Learning to ride a horse can look very complicated, and there is a lot that goes into riding well. But breaking down each element into baby steps helps become proficient equestrians.

One of the coolest things about horses is that they are so tall. One of the scary things about horses is that they are, again, so tall. Yikes! (Don’t even get us started on these …)

How are you supposed to get up there? Good news. With a little practice, mounting a horse is easy:

Here is a helpful video showing how to mount a horse from the ground. This person is using a Western saddle.

You may also use a mounting block, which is a wooden or plastic stepping stool designed to bring you up to the level of the stirrup and make it easier to get on. The mounting process, itself, will be the same.

Here’s a video that shows how to safely use a mounting block. This person is using an .

As fun as your first ride will be, you’ll want to bring your horse to a stop at some point. Just remember — you’ll be slowing down and then stopping. There shouldn’t be any “slamming on the brakes” while you’re in the saddle.

Once you’ve successfully gotten up into the saddle, you’re ready to cue your horse to walk. Remember to relax as much as possible. Tight muscles will make everything more difficult.

Here is a helpful video about how to walk on a horse:

Trotting is similar to jogging for a person. With each stride, your horse will be bouncing up into the air a little–and that means that you’ll be bouncing a little, too.

If walking on a horse feels like the gentle swaying of a boat on the water, trotting is going to feel like the waves are coming up a little higher. (Or, a lot higher, in the beginning.)

It’s a funny sounding term, but “posting” on your horse will make it a easier for you as you learn and improve your riding skills.

Posting involves rising slightly out of the saddle matching your horse’s natural movement and keeps you from bouncing while the horse trots. (English and Western riders can post the trot.)

Here’s a helpful video about how to post on a horse (aka riding trot):

Watching a more experienced rider trot along, without bouncing, may look like magic.

Once you’ve tried trotting for the first time, it’s hard to imagine how they do it. They must have thighs of steel, or velcro on their saddle seat! In actuality, they’ve simply practiced a LOT.

Here are two helpful videos about how to sit the trot without bouncing:

When you’re ready to canter, you’ll find that it’s a little easier to stay seated in the saddle, compared to trotting.

Cantering has three “beats,” or foot falls, and it feels a bit like you’re sitting on a rocking horse. (A really cute, furry rocking horse that nickers.)

It’s essential that you have control of your horse at all lower speeds before you move on to the fastest gait.

It can be difficult to control and stop your horse, and you can both get hurt.

Jumping can be really fun — when you’re ready! You might get to try out small jumps in the riding ring with an instructor or when you’re out on a trail ride.

Here are two helpful videos showing how to jump on a horse:

When you’re ready to dismount, you’ll need to make sure that your horse will not move away as you get off.

Starting your horse riding journey is exciting, and there are a few basic tips that’ll help you have fun and stay safe.

The safest way is to take with a professional instructor, or on an escorted trail ride. Don’t attempt to do it by yourself. Reference the article above for helpful advice along the way.

Riding a horse is a skill, just like riding a bike. And, like riding a bike, you need more experience to try more difficult maneuvers. Riding a bike along a flat sidewalk with no bumps or traffic is something that most people can learn to do.

Riding a mountain bike up and down hills and over obstacles takes a lot of practice and physical training to perform without injuries. It’s the same with horses — riding at a walk is not that hard, but faster and more complicated activities require skill and practice.

Although one can argue that you can continue to learn riding your whole life, you can learn some basic skills and feel after several lessons.

If you’re looking for a skill you can keep perfecting, riding can offer that — or you can learn to enjoy yourself with some basic education that helps you be safe and comfortable on the occasional trail ride.

Seriously, the skills for going faster on a horse are built from learning to ride with balance and coordination, as well as developing your muscle memory and understanding how horses move.

As you improve your riding at a walk and trot, you’ll become ready to canter and gallop.

Start with a grooming session. After all, horses in herds participate in mutual grooming to get the spots they can’t reach. Use a good curry comb and lots of elbow grease. When you’re done, take some time to hand-graze him. This type of laid-back pampering day can work wonders to help you connect.

You also can do some groundwork together and give him treats when he listens. After all, who doesn’t love getting a few sweets?

One of my favorite things to do is take a day off and go for an easy, walking trail ride. It gives you and your horse a chance to unwind and just enjoy some quiet riding time together.

Horses are big animals that have minds of their own. They can easily and accidentally hurt you when they get scared.

Each horse has a unique personality, likes, and dislikes. Just because one horse is fine with loud noises doesn’t mean another will be. Some are good with kids, others are suitable only for advanced equestrians.

Horses are very intelligent and can pick things up quickly (both tricks and bad habits). They can also recognize people. Even if a horse hasn’t seen you in years, if you were kind to him, he’ll remember you.

Finally, even horses that are considered safe can still be dangerous if they are spooked or caught by surprise. Never run up to a horse or approach them directly from in front or behind. A goes a long way.

Relax, don’t grip with your knees, and did we mention RELAX? For additional tips about how to improve your ability to sit at a trot, check out this video:

English riding involves English style tack — saddle, bridle, accessories — and is different from For starters, the rider uses a smaller saddle, doesn’t sit as deeply in the saddle, and uses both reins to guide the horse.

If you’d like to watch a video of a horse having its English tack put on, this is a good one:

Western-style riding is based on how working cowboys needed to ride to perform their work.

You’ll see heavier saddles with a horn to tie a rope to, a deeper riding seat, and longer stirrups that make long hours in the saddle more secure and comfortable. The rider holds the reins in one hand — so that the other can throw a rope.

Here’s a video that shows Western style tack being put on a horse:

To help yourself get fit for riding, focus on strengthening your whole body — it’s really a workout! However, most new riders find that they need work on their legs and core muscles.

Work on walking stairs, strengthening your abductor muscles, sit-ups, and planks. You’ll also find our blog about instructive.

Let your hips move freely, remember that there is a steady three-beat rhythm involved, and don’t interfere with the movement of your horse’s head.

Remember, once you are skilled enough to canter, you will be using smaller and more refined cues to help guide your horse — and the ability to perform them will take time and practice.

Enjoy yourself, remember that you will get dirty, and make sure your clothing and gear fit properly. Even for a short ride, warm up by doing some stretches – you’ll be using some different muscles.

Think in terms of months, not weeks. It will all depend on your natural skills, the amount of time you’re putting in, and your instructor. It’s best to talk to your instructor about what they think the timeline might be after you’ve had a few lessons together.

You can certainly learn to walk on a horse in a week, but riding is a real skill that you’ll need time and practice to develop. Visit a riding school and talk to the instructor about lesson options.

Don’t let that discourage you from trying out a short trail ride on a calm horse, or taking your first introductory riding class. You’ll find out how fun and addictive learning to ride can be!

Also like riding a bike, you’ll always remember the basic skills that riding involves, once you’ve mastered them. Bear in mind though – each horse is different, and there are many different styles of riding out there.

Riding horses well takes years (often decades!) of practice. It can be hard to see progress when you’re just starting out, but hang in there. As with everything in life, practice makes progress (not perfection).

No matter what, you’re dealing with another being that has opinions, feelings, and who also has good and bad days, just as you do. Always thank your mount for their hard work by interacting with them in a positive way — scratches, gentle pats, and carrots are good ways to show your appreciation!

Channing M.

When I’m not using my equine anatomy, physiology, veterinary care background to educate other equestrians, you’ll find me volunteering with retired racehorses or vacationing in the Gulf of Mexico with my hubby and beach-loving lab.

About Horse Rookie

After 25+ years in the saddle, I bought my first horse at 33.

I love practicing dressage, jumping, reining, trail riding, and cow work with my AQHA gelding, Azteca gelding, and Mini Appy in beautiful Montana, USA.

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How Far Can a Horse Travel In a Day? (8 Facts)

As no two horses are the same on the planet, there is no single answer to how far a horse can travel in a day. First, you should know that a horse moves its legs in three different ways, from the slowest gait, faster trot, and the fastest gallop.

Second, many different factors affect how much a horse can cross during the day, including the horse’s breed and age. However, its speed will also depend on the load it carries, terrain configuration, and weather conditions. Let’s take a closer look.

Always keep in mind that people use horses differently these days than hundreds of years ago. It is unnecessary to rely on these animals for long daily journeys, so they have adjusted to the new circumstances.

Unlike horses trained to complete everyday journeys in the past, modern ones are less capable of doing the same, with rare exceptions. While horses traveled about 35 miles (56.5 km) daily in those times, most of them can travel only 25 miles (40 km) a day nowadays.

There are a few crucial factors that will affect your upcoming long journey. The primary things you need to take care of are your and your horse’s fitness and skills.

You both need to be rested, well-fed, and with an adequate amount of water supplies. Additionally, you should check your equipment, terrain, and weather conditions. Let’s take a look.

The mileage that a horse can cover in one day largely depends on horse movement types. The gait pattern depends on the horse you have.

Some naturally have efficient movements so that they can travel faster and further with less energy burning. Plus, they are more comfortable for the rider. You can recognize two gait types, including:

Ambling gait

It is a combination of natural and learned movements, such as cantering and galloping.

Horses can walk or gallop at a certain pace and an average speed per mile. It can vary depending on the horse type, rider skills, terrain, and weather conditions.

As I have already mentioned, a typical horse can walk at a speed of approximately 4 mph (6.5 km/h), trot at about 8 and 12 mph (13.9 – 19.5 km/h), while it can reach at least 25 and 30 mph (40 – 48 km/h) when galloping.

Horse speed

Never believe the famous scenes from movies. Most average horses can travel at the pace of a gallop only 2 miles (3 km) without fatigue and about 20 miles (32 km) at the pace of a trot. You can ride your horse 25 and 35 miles (40 – 56.5 km) without rest when it walks steady.

An average trail horse in decent shape can withstand a journey of 50 miles (80.5 km) in one day, while a fit endurance competitor will be able to travel even 100 miles (161 km) in a day. On the other hand, most of them can’t endure a few consecutive days of riding without a day or two of rest.

A more fit animal can cover more distance when trotting and cantering one part of the way. Be aware that there are no many riders who can sustain that pace. On the other hand, some horses can’t ride for eight hours in one day.

Regular exercise and training keep the horse healthy and excellently fit. However, it is recommended to take your animal to the vet for a detailed checkup before the journey. There are a few factors that will affect the horse’s overall fitness.

For instance, senior horses often have some health issues, like arthritis, and can’t spend hours on the trip and keep up with speed. It is the same with recently injured animals.

Keep in mind that horses tend to follow their team regardless of fatigue and pain. Therefore, you should take care to prevent overload. Tired animals can quickly stumble and are prone to injuries, so you should be careful and responsible.

The best option is to keep a reasonable pace, make frequent stops, and provide adequate riding equipment and enough food and water during the journey. Otherwise, you can face irreparable damage.

Keep in mind that there are a few techniques to improving a horse’s fitness, but it is a long process. It will be easier with a young, energetic, and healthy animal, but you should be less demanding with an older and less hardy horse.

Be aware that a horse can’t maintain the same rhythm of gait throughout the journey, and it often depends on the riding conditions. Every horse will slow down when facing unfamiliar and uncomfortable terrain, prolonging overall travel time.

As you can guess, it is not the same if you travel across the plains or the steep hills. Moving up and down will cause more stress on the horse’s cardiovascular system and limbs, so it can’t go as fast as over flat terrain.

Additionally, the hard, rocky, sandy, muddy, and bumpy ground will negatively impact the horse’s joints and hooves. Therefore, it will slow down the pace to avoid injuries. The best option for long-distance traveling is grassy fields.

Always check weather conditions in advance and avoid taking a trip when the day is too hot or cold. Believe it or not, weather can significantly affect horseback rides, particularly when you plan a full-day trip.

Most horses do the best at the optimal temperatures of 70 and 90 F (21 – 32 C). Rainy days will slow your animal down, primarily because of the slippery ground. Plus, no one horse won’t enjoy getting wet. You can expect your horse to look for shelter after 2 to 7 miles (3 – 11 km) spent on rain.

In most cases, an average horse can travel about 10 to 20 miles (16 – 32 km) when it snows and temperatures are low. After that, they will seek warmth.

Additionally, extreme weather can cause severe horse injuries and illnesses. For instance, dehydration during hot days will cause a low level of electrolytes that is always followed by severe health consequences.

Keep in mind that hot, windy weather with low humidity can cause quick sweat to evaporates. You won’t notice sweating in such a situation because it dries quickly, but be aware that the horse can still lose electrolytes.

On the other hand, traveling during the windy and freezing days without adequate protective gear will probably cause muscles to stiffen, while frozen ground can hurt your horse’s joints and hooves.

Fed and rested horse that got enough water will quickly complete a long ride and recover after that. Always check if you can find adequately arranged and accessible water sources on the trail, offer water to your overheating horse regularly and let it cool down and take a rest as much as it needs.

Properly fitting tack is one of the crucial things you should consider when riding the horse, especially when going on longer journeys. It is the same with the saddle and bridle.

Inappropriately fitting equipment will significantly influence your trip, shorten the distance you can pass during a day, ​and leave you unsatisfied and disappointed.

An additional problem is losing a shoe while traveling over the rocky terrain, making it impossible to continue the journey.

Finally, you have to be sure of your physical fit and capability to go the long distance in one day. For instance, if you are not skillful enough to guide your horse over rocky terrain or puddle, you can find yourself get stuck in the middle of nowhere.

Always check your stamina by traveling a few shorter trails before a long trip. As you have already known, riding a horse for hours is tiring and can be pretty painful. Even the most experienced riders will struggle to handle such an effort.

You can ride an average, healthy and energetic horse for 25 and 35 miles (40 – 56.5 km) in one day in ideal conditions. However, most of them will successfully handle only 15 and 20 miles (24 – 32 km) a day with enough water, food, and rest. Keep in mind that distance traveled also depends on you, weather conditions, terrain, and equipment you use.

Should You Tie a Horse in a Trailer? Pros, Cons & Pro Tips

Most horse owners will have to transport their horse at some point in their life and tying, or not, sounds simple, but it requires essential safety considerations.

The answer, of course, is that it depends – on the personality and training of the horse, the type of trailer, and the internal set-up of the trailer.

I have hauled horses from Colorado to Massachusetts, up and down the East Coast of the US, and around the UK, and the right choice is whatever will be safest for you and the horse on each journey.

The main reason we tie horses in trailers is to prevent them from moving and damaging themselves, the trailer, or you.

They can twist around in the stall, lie down, crawl under the dividers, or over the breast bar, all of which could be extremely dangerous.

If you have more than one horse in your rig, tying also stops them from picking fights with neighboring horses.

It goes without saying that any horse tied up in a trailer already needs to know how to tie safely. Youngstock or unhandled horses should be traveled loose since restraint could panic a horse unfamiliar with it.

A rope is a safety hazard in and of itself, and not tying your horse to the trailer means he can’t get tangled in it.

Additionally, horses who are free to move will find the most (1)

That said, another study found that “balancing ability was not meaningfully affected [by orientation] …”.(2) If you deem it safer to tie, it’s not the end of the world for his balance.

Longer journeys have greater repercussions on respiratory health and stress. An untied horse can easily lower his head, which is necessary for clearing his airways.

On long-haul transport (24 hours or more) showed significantly lower levels of cortisol and other stress indicators in horses left loose than in horses cross-tied in a trailer. (4)

It recommended “allowing horses during long-term transportation to travel loose in small compartments, without elevating their head by cross-tying.”

The trailer should, of course, be large enough for the horse to move about safely and not hit his head on the roof. Check out our

Lastly, in the unfortunate event of an accident, it is easier to rescue a loose horse than one attached to the trailer.

However, if you are transporting an untied horse, you’ll either want a stock trailer, which is designed for it, or one where you can safely secure center dividers, breast bars, and anything he can get caught in or climb over.

I had a slant load trailer that could be configured into a fantastic, airy, loose box, and I occasionally used it to move weanlings and yearlings or to transport my own horse untied.

If you are tying your horse, regardless of trailer type, be it a or another style, you should always use some breakaway tie or horse-safe panic snap.

In the event of the horse panicking, slipping, or having an accident, you don’t want him fixed to the bulkhead.

The cheapest option is a loop of baling twine and a quick-release knot on the lead rope. You can also buy leads with quick-release snaps or tie rings which are designed to break under stress.

Some experts, like trainer Sabrina Damm, recommend both twine and panic snaps.

(5) encourage only using leather or breakaway halters. Although it’s relatively common to the trailer in rope halters, it’s not that safe.

Trainer Julie Goodnight says, “The rope halter is designed to put pressure on the horse’s face, and it will not break. That could be a problem in the event of an emergency.”

When considering the question, ‘should you tie a horse in a trailer?’ The following are essential.

A horse tied up in a trailer needs to be able to move his head and neck to balance himself and blow debris out of his airways, but he should be restrained enough to stay out of trouble.

It’s a myth that horses brace themselves on the rope – . (6) You don’t want his head totally immobilized. A horse could also get injured if tied too high and loses footing.

Another study indicated that the pressure a horse experiences if tied too short, might even cause him to panic and jump the chest bar. (7)

However, the rope should not be overly long. Otherwise, he could get the rope over his head, catch his foot, turn around, or wind up under the center divider or butt bar.

Give him enough slack to hold his head comfortably at wither height but no more.

Most people offer their horses hay whilst in transit. Make sure he can reach the hay without his rope getting caught, and if you are using haynet, tie it high enough so the horse can’t get a foot stuck in it.

Another important factor to consider is your . It needs to be suitable for the size of your horse.

When you unload, do not forget to untie your horse you remove the divider or butt bar. Horses sometimes shoot backward as soon as the door opens and could panic if suddenly caught on the lead rope.

Veterinary studies have shown that after twelve hours of transport, the risks to the horse’s health increase, mainly from respiratory infections.

Study found “a modest occurrence of transport stress related to respiratory disease in horses traveling up to 12 hours. (8) After that, the occurrence of shipping fever rises dramatically and in proportion to the duration of transport.”

However, traveling any distance is hard work for them. Imagine the balance and constant small movements required when you stand on a bus.

Recommends that you stop every four to six hours (or three to four in hot weather) to give him a break and offer him water. (8)

It’s not necessary to unload him. But after eight or nine hours, he will appreciate being taken off the trailer to stretch his legs, and male horses especially will find it easier to urinate.

There may be situations where your horse has to stay on the trailer overnight. Ideally, you want to avoid this, but emergencies happen.

If it does, make sure he has enough hay to last through the night and access to fresh water. You should remove any droppings, put shavings down to soak up urine, and make sure that the trailer is as well-ventilated as possible.

You should tie a horse in a slant load trailer if he is at risk of turning around or going under or over the divider or butt bar. If the trailer’s design makes this unlikely, if he is a good traveler or has not been trained to tie, he can be loose.

It is preferable not to. But in an emergency, you can manage, so long as he has bedding, water, hay, and adequate ventilation.

Yes, so long as your rig can be operated safely without one. Setting up the trailer as a loose box could be preferable for young stock or unhandled horses, who should not be tied and might find the journey less stressful if they have more space.

In a straight-load trailer, the heaviest horse should go on the driver’s side due to the camber of the roads. In a slant load, the heaviest horse should go over the axle.

Transporting horses on the roads is one of the most dangerous activities we do with them. Deciding how should you tie a horse in a trailer is one of the most important pre-travel checks you can make.

There are many ways to make it as safe as possible, and the decision to tie or not tie is important. Your horse can look forward to a pleasant trip with a few considerations and the correct equipment.

Emily is a native of Colorado, currently living in Glasgow, Scotland, working as a freelance writer. She is a long-time horsewoman, having started riding at the age of 6, then competing in dressage around Colorado and Massachusetts, where she finished her undergraduate degree in psychology.

Following a move to the UK and a PhD, she worked for a few years as a freelance horse trainer in Central Scotland. She’s interested in holistic horsemanship, fostering better communication and understanding between horses and humans, riding with lightness and softness, and she’s forever seeking out the newest research into equine behavior and psychology. When not writing, she can be found at the barn with her two equine partners, Foinavon, an ex-feral Highland pony, and Hermosa, a young Andalusian. Follow on and Read her Learn more about


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What provides support and protection to a horse while hauling?

Leg support guarantees that your horse reaches at his destination on . Why should you buy: The wrap adapts to your horse’s legs and has for support, while a vented neoprene outer layer provides for ventilation and heat dispersion…. It is important to protect your horse from the during transportation.

Horse trailers are used to transport horses from one location to another. There are two types of horse trailers: flatbed and box. Both provide support and protection for the horse while transporting him across roads or through . However, not all locations are accessible by road, so horse owners must also consider the need for shelter when choosing how to transport their horses. For example, if the horse is being transported over long distances or through cold weather conditions, then a protective trailer is recommended.

Flatbed horse trailers are generally only suitable for short distance transportation because they are not raised off the ground like box trailers. This means that the horse’s feet remain in contact with the ground which can cause injury if the horse is unshod or has . However, since there is no roof to shield them from the sun or rain, horses transported in flatbeds tend to be hotter or colder than those in a box trailer due to differences in insulation.

Should I wrap my horse’s legs for trailering?

Wrapping is necessary to protect and cover an injured region, to offer warmth to , ligaments, or fetlocks, to limit and movement, and to protect his legs when trailering or hauling. A fingertip should be able to glide between the bandage and your horse’s leg.

There are two methods of wrapping a horse’s legs for transportation: cross-wrap and spiral wrap. Which method is used depends on which parts of the horse need protection most. Cross-wraps provide more coverage for vulnerable areas such as underbelly, back, and head. Spiral wraps are preferred for thicker material that might get in his eyes if wrapped in cross-section (such as carpet).

It is important to keep from rubbing against during wrapping or re-wrapping. This can lead to chafing and sores. Legs that are not properly protected from the elements will become cold and develop bruises. These should be taken care of immediately before transporting your horse.

Horses have been transported for thousands of years using various techniques. There are many safe and effective ways to do it today. As long as you follow some basic guidelines, you should have no problems delivering a healthy horse to any facility who needs him.

What are the parts of a harness?

Traces. The straps or chains that connect the breastcollar or hames to the load. Harness saddle or “pad” a tiny, supporting piece of harness that rests on the horse’s back; not to be confused with . Load ring or snap hook for attaching the end of to it.

The word “harness” comes from the old English word “harend,” which means “to hold together.” In other words, a harness is a set of straps used to attach items that need to be held together.

There are three basic parts to a harness: the breastplate, bit shank, and girth. Each part has several pieces that can be made out of leather or synthetic materials. Leather is stronger but more expensive than its plastic counterpart; therefore, they usually appear on more expensive gear. Synthetic materials are less expensive but they won’t last as long. They look like leather but are much lighter weight and more flexible.

Harnesses come in because you need to adjust the length of the traces to fit . There are also large and small harnesses for . Large harnesses are useful if you have several horses that you want to hitch up together. This makes it easier to manage them and avoid conflicting signals from being sent from the headgear.

Why use a tail bag on a horse?

Tail bags are used by for a variety of reasons. They protect the horse’s tail! Your horse’s tail may drag or become rolled in dirt and muck during the muddy fall and winter months. Furthermore, after the lycra or cotton bag is removed, you will have a clean and lovely tail.

Tail bags are also useful when trying to break a stubborn habit. By tying off the end of the bag where the horse can’t reach it, you are giving him to put away from you and . This helps with self-control as well as preventing your clothes from getting dirty.

Finally, tail bags are helpful for showing off your favorite dress or suit jacket. You can tie up the bag with string so that it hangs down between your horse’s back legs, thus preserving the shape of the jacket.

These are just some of the many reasons why people use tail bags on their horses. There are many different types of tail bags on the market today, so find one that fits your lifestyle and budget.

How does a jockey control a horse?

According to the London-based study, jockeys stretch and tighten their legs, delivering vertical force with their . The rider partially adjusts for using this maneuver. This maneuver necessitates a significant amount of mechanical exertion on the part of the jockey. When performed effectively, it can cause the horse to lose and fall.

Jockeys also use their legs to keep the horse from turning too much in a direction against . If the horse does turn too sharply, the jockey will use his or her leg to prevent it from going further than necessary. This is called “leging” the horse. Leging is important because it prevents the horse from injuring itself when it tries to break free from a fence or another object in an effort to escape. A jockey who fails to leg his or her horse properly would be at risk of being kicked by the angered animal.

Finally, jockeys deliver punches with to the horse’s sides or back to encourage it to move forward. Punches are used to start and stop races as well as to help the horse maintain in the field. Punches should be delivered lightly and with control so as not to irritate the horse.

These are just some of the ways in which jockeys influence their horses. There are many more techniques employed throughout a race to help horses run faster, stay healthy, and avoid injury.

Jose Wang is a veteran of the sports industry. He’s been involved in sports for over 30 years, and has held positions such as president, director of marketing and public relations. Jose’s passion is basketball, and he’s well respected among his peers for his knowledge of the game and ability to analyze statistics.

Horseback Riding Safety

Horse Dangers

Horses are large powerful animals that are capable of tremendous speed and power. Horses often stand 6 feet tall, weigh more than 1,000 pounds, and are capable of speeds of 35 miles-per-hour. The most common types of injuries from horses are fractures, bruises, abrasions, sprains, strains, and concussions. Injuries from horses can also occur on the ground from being stepped on or kicked by the horse. The greatest danger from horses is being thrown from a horse which can result in severe neck, spine, and head injuries.

Safe Approach

Horses are easily spooked and this is when the majority of injuries occur. Making sure all staff and riders are aware of the dangers posed by frightened horses and what actions can scare them can help prevent injuries. Some examples of things that can spook a horse include:

Safety Tips

Horseback riding is an exciting summer camp experience that many children look forward to and enjoy. While potential dangers exist due to the size, power, and unpredictable nature of horses, a few simple safety measures can ensure that horseback riding is a fun and safe activity.

Equine Liability Laws

Another important aspect of equine safety is to post your state’s equine laws in a visible, well-seen area. By keeping these laws posted you can make sure the riders are aware of the inherent dangers involved with riding horses. Posting these warning signs will also help protect your organization in the event an injury does occur. Each state has differing rules and regulations concerning the language of these signs as well as the requirements for properly displaying them. Make sure you know .


Make sure all riders participating in horseback riding activity have completed and signed waivers. If the participant is under the age of 18 make sure a parent/guardian signature is obtained. It is important that these releases include the warning language contained in the posted signs.

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10 Things Horses Hate

—movements that could be perceived as aggression on the part of the human (like chasing them with a plastic bag tied to a whip).

Draw reins, nasty hands, doesn’t matter whether or not gadgets are used. NO horse is comfortable with its head in this position, EVER. The only purpose of something like this is to make sure your vet and chiropractor stay employed, since you are creating problems for them to attempt to fix. It’s not like it has anything to do with actual training.

And instead plop all over their horse like a sack of uncoordinated potatoes. Especially when coupled with (a) clutching on the mouth and (b) hanging on with the feet. You don’t have to be fit and perfect, nor a great equitation rider, but you can work on your riding enough not to feel like a backpack full of bricks bouncing on your horse’s back.

And forget to check wither clearance after, not before, their weight is in the saddle.

—the same behavior gets no response on Monday, but after the human has a fight with another human on Tuesday it results in a temper tantrum of whipping and yanking.

If you don’t know what good shoeing is and how to recognize it, just get your horses trimmed while you educate yourself. Few things are more harmful to your horse than shoes that are too small or badly set on.

If you must live in a horse-unfriendly place such as Los Angeles, which many of us do, it’s your job to get to the barn daily and get your horse turned out, not just ridden and worked. Your horse needs actual R & R where they are loose and nothing is asked of them, just as you like to come home from work, put on the pajama pants and watch mindless TV or surf Facebook to unwind. Horses who get adequate turnout are much less likely to offload their humans unexpectedly.

When your horse’s expression resembles Grumpy Cat’s, this means something. Figure it out. Don’t ignore it and then get mad when you get hurt. The horse has very few ways to let you know when they are not feeling well or hurting or frustrated. It’s your job to learn to read ears and eyes and body language so that your horse can communicate with you.

Sure, you can go through life making your horse hate you—but that’s how a lot of people wind up in the hospital. If you prefer the couch in your jammies to the hospital, put a little effort into making your horse see you as a good thing, not a major annoyance and source of pain!

Cathleen Trope is the President of Polo Pony Rescue. Based in the L. A. area, Polo Pony Rescue, Inc. rescues slaughter-bound and otherwise at risk equines including, but not exclusively limited to, former polo ponies, and provides rehabilitation, retraining, and placement, where indicated, or retirement. Polo Pony Rescue, Inc. also seeks to educate others on proper care, humane treatment and training of horses and responsible breeding practices in order to decrease the number of at-risk horses. Find out how you can help at


  1. When riding wear boots with appropriate heels to prevent feet from slipping through the stirrups. Always wear protective headgear properly fitted and fastened. Keep the horse under control and maintain a safe seat at all times. Horses are easily startled by unusual objects and noises

  2. Move confidently and slowly when approaching a horse by walking never by running. Approach the horse from the front toward the shoulder. Talk to the horse when approaching and reach out. Never approach a horse from behind

  3. Shake the reins or leash rope. Punishing unwanted behavior by shaking or waving the reins or leash rope is counterproductive. Whenever you do something that makes the horse raise his head and avoid contact with the bit or even the halter the horse is not learning but is just reacting to avoid pressure

  4. According to conventional wisdom a horse should start its riding career at three years of age while for other riders it is a matter of waiting a few years longer while in areas such as the racing industry horses are commonly under saddle and on the track as early as two years of age

  5. 10 common things humans do to scare and confuse horsesInvasive veterinary care. Petting them. Lifting feet trimming hooves and shoeing. Grooming sensitive areas. Pulling or trimming hair and whiskers. Spraying chemicals such as fly spray. Hand feeding or feeding from a bucket. Putting them in a trailer or horse box

  6. According to the UNITED STATES HORSE MANAGEMENT MANUAL 1941 a horse should not carry more than 20 percent of its own weight

  7. If you want to participate in high level competition it is not uncommon for horses to train intensively 6 days a week. However if you simply want to keep your horse in a healthy physical condition riding your horse three times a week for at least 20 minutes at a time can help maintain a good level of health

  8. Things horses don’t likeButterflies. Horses are very large creatures so it is almost comical that they are frightened by something as small as a butterfly. Cats dogs and other animals. Children. Things lying on the ground. Cars driving by. New rides. Ill equipped horse. A rider who sneezes

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