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Muddy Trails

  • Wet, muddy trails
    Rainy weather and muddy conditions increase the risk of a horse slipping. Ride slowly and avoid muddy trails if possible.
    Note: Knowing the footing you are working in, be it in the ring or on the trail, is essential to making safe decisions.
  • Rain and creek beds
    When trail riding, do not ride near the rim of an elevated creek bank. Many times during heavy rains, the water will undercut the bank overhang, making it very unstable. It can break away, create a soft ground that a horse’s hoof can sink into and potentially get caught in roots of trees or other debris that has been carried under the bank.
    Note: Make sure you are aware of the footing on any riding surface you are traveling on. Most horses will have an instinct about unstable footing, but it’s your job as a rider to A) be in tune to your horse and B) to check footing before riding.
  • Slippery slopes
    It is easy for the horse to slip going down a hill or creek bank, especially if it has rained or there are lots of leaves. Go slowly or dismount if possible.
    Note: Check trails on foot before taking your horse out, especially if you’ve never been on them before. In regards to getting off your horse, use judgment depending on the situation. In some instances being on the ground beside an unsteady horse could lead to more problems (e.g., him slipping and falling on you).
  • Crossing mud puddles
    I was on the ground leading a horse across a mud puddle. Instead of getting into the dense brush on either side of the puddle I stayed on the only dry spot. My horse jumped the puddle and landed on my leg and foot. I now carry a longer rope - 15 feet - to give the horse more room and if my rope is too short, I back up into the brush.
    Note: Being on the ground is sometimes more dangerous than being in the saddle. Make sure you listen to your horse's body language and be able to anticipate his next move.
  • Muddy slopes
    My horse slipped while going up a steep muddy hill on a trail ride and fell on my ankle. I broke several bones and couldn’t walk. Ride with a friend because mine was able to help me.
    Note: Always have a buddy. If that’s not possible, make sure someone knows where and when you’re going, and notify them as soon as you return.
  • Crossing creeks
    If you ride a horse that uses a tie-down, be sure you remove the tie down before crossing a creek or getting in deep water. The horse could fall and get its head underwater and not be able to get its head back above the surface and drown. Be prepared. Learn how to do an emergency dismount. Always carry a sharp pocket knife in the event you need to cut a tie-down if someone in your group neglects to take the tie-down off. As always, a horse in that situation will panic so be very careful of thrashing hooves. Also, remember horses cannot resist lying down in water to cool off. Be prepared.
    Note: These are all very good tips, and they are things you should know before going on trails where you might encounter situations such as these. Although trail rides are a fun riding activity, they need to be approached with all of the precautions of any other type of riding, plus riders should have the knowledge of a backpacker, camper, outdoors men, etc.
  • Mud
    When going through a muddy ravine, be super aware that a horse can lose its footing.
    Note: Always check the ground on foot before attempting anything that seems hazardous.
Page last updated: 6/19/2013 10:04:28 AM