Horse Trail Manners and Riding Etiquette

Christine Churchill, Five Star Ranch Staff Writer

Trail manners count. Knowing how to act on a trail will make sure you are a welcome partner on the next trail ride. Here are a few common sense things to keep in mind to make social riding more fun.

Trail riding in the Colorado Rockies.

  1. Don’t pass a group at a high speed. I have seen people come galloping past our group and not bother to slow down despite the presence of small children. This is rude and dangerous. If the horses in the group are surprised, they might spook and someone could get hurt.
  2. Don’t make loud noise on the trail. Most of us that trail ride are looking for quiet time with nature. It is our mental therapy. Be considerate and don’t yell unless there is a problem.
  3. Don’t trash mother nature. You ride on trails to enjoy nature and beautiful surroundings. Don’t spoil the view by leaving empty beer cans and other trash on the trail. Leave nothing but your hoofprints.
  4. If your horse kicks, wear a red ribbon on its tail. The red ribbon is the traditional signal that a horse is a kicker. My mare normally is fine, but when she is in heat, I need three red ribbons on her.

    Zippy horse tied to trailer

  5. Take care of your horse after the ride. The horses carried you over miles of trails. Don’t leave the dear creature standing for extended periods tied to a trailer without water in the hot sun. Treat your horse with the respect and care it deserves.
  6. Leave gates as you found them. This is a universal rule in the country. Many trail areas double as cow pastures so always leave the gate as you found them.
  7. Slow down going around sharp corners. You’ve been on trails where the trees block the view around the next corner. Slow down and move to the right side of the trail to avoid running into someone coming around the same bend.
  8. Be a good Samaritan. If you encounter someone having trouble on the trail, offer to stop and help. Remember, it could be you needing assistance next time.

Trail etiquette isn’t hard. It’s common sense and the golden rule. Treat others as you want to be treated.

Happy trails to you.