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Trail hazards

  • Warning horse riders
    When approaching a horse rider in a car, ATV, bicycle, or while walking/jogging, I let them know I am approaching as far away as possible by saying “bicycle approaching you” etc.
    Note: Many horses don’t like vehicles like this, so it is a very courteous thing to do to alert the rider. Sometimes just the sound of your voice will calm a horse who is nervous about a bicycle, etc.
  • Animals
    Once, a turkey took off in front of us and spooked the horses. The rider in front fell off and broke his arm. Luckily, we did have a cell phone to call for help. Always carry cell phone and keep your guard up for the unexpected.
    Note: Make sure your cell phone is on your body. It does no good to be in a saddle bag on a horse that has taken off after a fall.
  • Hunting season
    During hunting season, place a jingle bell on your horse’s collar to warn hunters and wildlife of your approach. Also wear an orange safety vest with reflectors or an orange helmet.
    Note: You should also avoid riding at dawn or dusk during hunting season.
  • Ground bees
    My horse stepped on nest of ground bees and I was bucked off. Ask people familiar with the land you’re riding on about where the ground bees are. They might not think to warn you.
    Note: Be aware of your surroundings.
  • Motorcycles/scooters
    Try to ride in designated riding areas. Avoid areas or trails frequented by motorbikes and scooters.
    Note: Even experienced, normally quiet horses may be startled by the sudden appearance of a motorized vehicle. If possible, turn your horse to face the approaching obstacle.  
  • Spooking by cougar
    I was trail riding with my trusty mare and dog. Suddenly, about 50 feet away, a frantic white tail doe ran out on the trail and then into the woods. In the next second, out popped a cougar chasing the deer. I stared and didn't do anything. I don't remember much as I had severe concussion (luckily wearing a helmet) and spine fracture when horse reared. The horse took off (it ended up two miles away). In retrospect I shouldn't have just stood there with my horse looking, but should have gotten the horse moving so she couldn't rear.
    Note: This is a situation in which hindsight is 20/20, but at the time it was hard to react that quickly. It would have been ideal to turn your horse away from the situation and get her moving, however this action could have caused her to bolt, etc. If you are able to get your horse's attention on something else - whether it be bending them or asking them to back up - breaking their focus on the scary situation is the best bet.
  • Bear
    I recently purchased a well-trained Missouri Fox Trotter. I was riding him on a tree covered trail when he spooked and spun and I fell on my head. I was wearing a helmet and came up only bruised and a little fuzzy. My friend that was behind me said a bear came running across the trail. Always wear a helmet.
    Note: No fault to anyone on this one! The unexpected happens regularly with horses so prepare with proper gear and safety knowledge.
Page last updated: 6/19/2013 9:57:48 AM