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Horse Trail Riding: The Secrets to a Successful Ride

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horse trail riding

Trail riding is one of the best parts of summer! Whether you enjoy short hacks around the field or long camping trips, there is nothing quite like the happiness you feel when riding your horse in nature itself.

Although it can be quite enjoyable, a lot of things can go wrong (we have all been there!) That's where these tips will come in handy...we know they will help you have the best trail ride, every time!


  1. Condition your horse: First things first, ALWAYS ensure you and your horse have accomplished the basics of riding in the arena before taking on the trail (such as stopping, turning, and having control at all gates) . It is also very important to make sure your horse is fit enough to go out on the trail. The distance and duration of the trail ride should be within your horse’s current fitness level.
  2. Inspect Your Tack: Riding with safe equipment is a must. Check your tack thoroughly before going on a trail ride; the leather should be free of cracks and should be supple. Keep your leather tack in good condition by regularly cleaning it with a leather cleaner followed by a leather conditioner such as Lexol®Click here to learn how to inspect your tack for saftey.
  3. Groom Your Horse: Yes, this may be a no brainier but thought we would list it anyways! Always groom your horse well before any ride, so he will have no irritations under the saddle. Try grooming with Corona® Detangler & Shine, it contains a UV Protectant for those sunny days!
  4. Fly Spray Your Horse: It is very important to spray your horse down with a horse fly repellent and to pack extra for use throughout the day. There is nothing worse than being swarmed by bugs while you're trying to enjoy the outdoors. We recommend Opti-Force™ Weather & Sweat Resistant Fly Spray, it will be effective in wet conditions (so you can cross those creeks worry free!)
  5. Plan Your Route: Yes, get out a map of where you plan to trail ride and make sure you know where you are going! If you do not plan your routes, it is very easy to get lost and turn a 3 hour trail ride into a 6 hour one.
  6. Bring a Halter & Lead: If you plan to tie your horse during the trail ride be sure to take a halter and lead with you!
  7. Let Someone Know: If you are trail riding and won't have the best cell service, be sure to let someone know where you are going and when you expect to be back.
  8. Warm Up: It is always important to warm up before going on the trail (you and your horse!)  Do some stretching exercises, and lunge your horse to prevent muscle stiffness.

On The Trail:

  • Wear a helmet (may be hot but safety always comes first!).
  • Ride with a friend (good for you and your horse).
  • Always carry a fully charged cell phone.
  • Carry your ID as well as your emergency contacts and stick them in your helmet.
  • Be prepared to confront common problems that can go wrong with your horse such as lameness, laceration, colic, tying up and snake bites.
  • Know how to monitor your horse's vital signs.
  • Bring a equine first-aid kit.
  • Leave one horse length between you and other horses (two if trotting)
  • Always be aware of your surroundings and think ahead so you don’t put yourself or your horse in a dangerous situation.
  • If your horse spooks on the trail, it is OK to get off the horse to address the spooky obstacle.
  • Avoid riding on footing that can be hazardous to your horse.
  • Try to know the depth of a water crossing before attempting to cross it.
  • Use your body position to help maintain your horse’s balance while traveling uphill (tilt upper body forward) and downhill (lean upper body back).
  • When approaching new obstacles that might frighten your horse, stop and let your horse address them in a safe manner.

After The Ride:

  • Cool your horse down properly and prevent lactic acid buildup in the muscles by applying a horse liniment such Corona Liniment
  • Rinse or hose off sweat and offer him fresh cool water.
  • Check his legs for swelling or any cuts he might have from the ride. Treat accordingly.

What should you have in your first-aid kit?

A first-aid kit is only handy in the case of an emergency if its right where you need it. It is very important to take one with you on the trail.

Equine First-Aid Kit Basics:

  • Disinfectant: to clean any wounds that may occur.
  • Horse Wound Care Ointment: to prevent new infection from entering the wound. Corona® Ointment will protect the wound from flies and debris (and its safe to apply without gloves!)
  • Wound dressings & bandages
  • Medical adhesive tape
  • Bandaids (for you!)
  • Scissors
  • Thermometer
  • A twitch
  • Material for a temporary splint until your veterinarian can arrive
  • Bute or Banamine
  • A pocket first-aid guide
  • Latex gloves
  • A flash light
  • Tweezers for removing ticks or splinters
  • Hoof pick
  • Duct tape

What do you like to take with you on the trail? Share in the comments below!


Why should Corona® Ointment be a staple in your first-aid supplies? 

  • Award-winninCR_Ointment_no_back_groundg formula-Chosen by the Horse Journal as their horse wound care treatment of choice!
  • Helps promote healing of minor wounds
  • The thick lanolin-based formula helps soothe irritated skin and prevents drying and cracking
  • Creates an excellent barrier against insects, moisture, and dirt
  • The thick ointment stays in place and provides continuous wound protection
  • Safe to apply-unlike other wound treatments


Article sources:

AQHA http://bit.ly/1rhXdAN

Horse & Rider: http://bit.ly/1DtaEGz

For cleaning wounds. Always dilute with clean water, according to manufacturer's instructions.nn Apply to wound using cotton wool, always wiping from the center of the wound out towards the surrounding skin.

Antiseptic Swabs and Scrubs:
These enable to wound to be cleaned even without access to a water supply.

Wound Powder/Ointment:
To prevent new infection from entering the wound. Ointments have some water resistance but are less easily absorbed than creams. Powders avoid the need to touch a wound, but are only absorbed by broken skin. Following cleaning, no preparation should be used on a wound that has yet to be seen by your veterinarian.

Antibiotic Aerosol:
For treatment of wounds to prevent infection without damaging tissue. Often colored (eg: blue or violet) to help with targetting. Take care to spray gently from the recommended distance.

Fly Repellent:
To keep flies away from healing wounds.

Wound Dressings:
To cover wounds without sticking to them and to promote healing. Come pre-packed for sterility.

You need to keep a supply, but two would be a bare minimum. They should be 3 to 4 inches wide and stretchy--Vetrap is excellent for this as it sticks to itself and not to the horse. If you choose to use ordinary crepe bandages, they can be washed and re-used. Any bandage should be applied over either "gamgee"--see below for the definition of this English term, cotton wool wrapped around the leg, or a padded leg wrap, carefully applied to prevent pressure points. Avoid open-weave or felt bandages with no "give" in them. - See more at: http://equusmagazine.com/article/firstaidkit081797#sthash.mLmzXtzq.dpuf
Gabby Gufler

Gabby Gufler

Gabby Gufler graduated from Truman State University in 2013 with a BS in Animal Science & Nutrition and a minor in Equine Science. Gabby currently works on Manna Pro’s marketing team, and enjoys competing regularly with her six horses.

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