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Trail Etiquette


Compiled by Tanya Farris


  1. Arrive early enough to be mounted and ready to ride at the departure time. Trail ride at 11:00 a.m. means ride out at 11:00, not show up at 11:00.
  2. When parking, leave room for others to park and tie their horses. Avoid going into areas where you may get stuck. This may cause property damage.
  3. Repair any damage caused by your horse or yourself. Report any problems to the host or land owner before leaving, such as injured livestock, trespassers, a downed fence, etc.
  4. Introduce yourself to the ride host or sponsor as soon as you arrive. Thank them for the opportunity they are providing to you.
  5. Pack food and water for both yourself and your horse. Don't expect this to be provided.
  6. Clean up any manure, hay or trash before you leave.
  7. Close all gates you open, if a gate is already open, leave it.
  8. Carry a hoof pick and a spare halter and lead, in case of emergencies.
  9. If possible, team up with a "buddy" to watch out for each other.
  10. Do not allow your horse to "say hello" by touching noses, or sniffing each other. Many horses will strike, or wheel and kick a new horse and have no concern about kicking the rider/leader in the process.
  11. If your horse is prone to kick, put a red ribbon on its tail. If it is green or young, put a green ribbon. This warns others and acts as a constant reminder that they need to show extra caution. If you are riding a stallion, be sure everyone knows it, to avoid confrontations arising. If you horse of any sex is unruly, leave it at home.
  12. Do not ride to close to the rear of other horses, not only may you be kicked, but you can't see where you are going either.
  13. Warn the rider in front of you before attempting to pass a horse and rider.
  14. Do not canter/gallop past other riders, if you want to go faster, pass first and then warn the other riders before accelerating.
  15. Ride single file.
  16. On roadways, all riders must stay on one side of the road, in single file. A horse is a vehicle, and must follow the rules of the road.
  17. When changing gait, warn other riders, to avoid being rear-ended or encouraging runaways. Pass on the left, and when passing oncoming traffic, left shoulder to left shoulder the customary position. Just think of driving your car, minus the "road rage."
  18. Do not pass the trail "boss" or leader. Stay with the group, don't wander off or trail blaze.
  19. Don't be a chronic complainer. If you can't take some inconvenience, stay home!
  20. Stay out of people's yards and fields. If you must enter, ride on the edges to avoid damage to the property.
  21. Avoid live stock completely, if this is not possible, don't take it as an invitation to cattle rustle.
  22. If you see a hole, or dangerous obstacle, point out the obstacle as you warn the other riders.
  23. After your ride, don't forget to thank your host or leader for the opportunity to ride. Keep in mind a lot of work goes into an organized ride even before the day you ride, so try to be a good sport even if you didn't have a great time.