So you’ve got the tack, the trailer, the tent (if camping) and most importantly, you’ve got the horse. Whether you are an avid trail rider and have done this before, or you are a first timer, there are several items that may not be at the top of your checklist that can’t go without some attention. It’s easy to remember the obvious stuff but this checklist just might keep you from running into trouble on the trail.
Grooming Equipment – It may seem obvious to make sure you have your brushes and hoof picks packed and ready to go but, it’s never a bad idea to be reminded. You may want to look into buying a grooming kit and set it aside just for the times that you travel with your horse. You can get inexpensive kits at your local feed store or by looking online. At the very least, always make sure you have a hoof pick, curry comb, and mane and tail brush.
Shoes? – Have you checked to see if the trail you will be riding is rocky and requires your horse to wear shoes? Several parks offer sandy trails which are acceptable to ride without shoes but you should always check to see if your horse needs to be shod before heading out.
Vet Records – Make sure your horse is up to date on vaccinations and general paperwork. Almost all parks require that riders carry with them, at all times, a copy of negative Coggin’s paperwork and in some cases health papers are required as well. Make sure to check with your destination of choice before loading up your horse.
First Aid Kit – If you do a little searching online, you will actually find first aid kits that are designed to fit in your saddle bags. Make sure that you bring the essentials for not only you, but your mount as well. At a minimum, come prepared with: band aids, gauze, Ace bandages, Vet wrap, Antibiotic ointment, aspirin (or some pain killer/fever reducer), and any prescription medications that may be required for yourself, your horse, or any other members in your party. Spend some time thinking about your personal health needs. If you are diabetic, make sure you bring insulin and a snack in case your blood sugar drops, if you have asthma, make sure you have an inhaler, etc.
Water, Feed, Hay – This may seem like an obvious necessity but it’s one that can be easily overlooked or under thought. Make sure you bring a bucket large enough to provide your horse with fresh water and make sure you know where the water will be made available to you. Make sure to bring plenty of feed and hay, it might not be a bad idea to bring enough for at least two extra days.
Rope – Most parks offer tie outs however, some do not. Even if you check with the park and have verified that they offer tie outs, a ranch rope is good to have along in the event the equipment is broken or faulty. Ranch rope can be used to tie between two trees or posts, creating a make-shift fence that you can tie your lead rope to.
Trailer – Before heading out, make sure the following things on your trailer are in proper working condition:
- Tire pressure and wear
- Check to make sure the floor of the trailer is in good condition and free of loose boards or rot
- Make sure all gates and latches open and close properly
- Ensure all locks are in working condition and you have the keys
- Make sure there are no sharp edges that could hurt your horse during loading/unloading/travel
- Check the brake lights and turn signals to make sure they are working properly
Trail Riding can be fun and a great experience, especially if it is your first time. Use these guidelines to make your trip even more enjoyable.