Riding along trails or hacking through fields is one of the most enjoyable ways to experience horseback riding. Even if you regularly show your horse and ride in the ring, the occasional hack can help take your horse's mind off work and expose him to new situations. However, venturing out into the fields or trails does come with some risks. Here are four safety rules to follow whenever you trail ride.
Take your phone.
Though you might be tempted to leave your phone behind and disconnect from the modern world, it's so much safer to have it with you when you hit the trails. You never know when you might fall and need to call for help. Rather than slipping your phone into your pocket and risking having it fall out, invest in a phone case for horseback riding. One that slips around your arm or attaches to your belt is ideal. While there are cases that hook to your saddle pad, these are not the best option since, if you were to become separated from your horse, the phone would be with the horse -- not with you. Check out companies like Shadowtree for options.
Tell someone where you are going.
Even if you're going out with a buddy, you need to tell a third person that you're going on a trail ride. Also tell them approximately where you are going and when to expect you back. Even when you're riding with someone else, it's possible for you to become injured. If someone knows you're gone and notices you have not returned, they can call for help.
Don't push an inexperienced horse too far.
If your horse is not used to trail riding, take it slow. For example, you could trail ride for 15 minutes the first day, and then keep going a little further and a little further each time until you're riding for an hour or two at a time. Pushing your horse too quickly could get you into an unsafe situation where your horse is reacting to unfamiliar sights and you're struggling to ride safely. Don't venture out on trails alone until you're sure your horse can remain calm and steady.
Wear your helmet.
Even if you're a brave soul who does not wear a helmet in the ring, please put one on when you trail ride! This is not a show where you have to worry about the looks of your attire. You never know when a cat or raccoon may step out of the bushes and spook your horse, so you're always better off safe than sorry.