Magnolia Branch Wildlife Reserve

Horseback riding safety tips

If you own a horse, you know riding freely is an excellent way to enjoy its company and experience the outdoors. And what better way to do that than to ride horse trails through the woods.
Much like hiking, horseback riding allows you to explore nature at your own pace but from a much better vantage point. Plus, on a horse you can cover more land in less time than if you were on foot.
There are countless reasons horse lovers enjoy riding trails. Whether you are a novice or an expert equestrian, a few helpful tips when riding will keep you and your horse safe in the great outdoors.
First, make sure your saddle is fitted properly on the horse. This is important because it affects how both you and the horse respond while riding. The front of the saddle should sit on the highest point of the horse’s back (the withers), and the girth should be tight but allow enough room for about four fingers to fit between the horse and the saddle.
Your sitting stance also plays a role in riding safety. Horses can sense your body movement without you actually doing anything intentional, just by the way you are seated in the saddle. Sit up straight and don’t tense up.
Another good safety tip to follow is foot placement in stirrups. Your foot should not be jammed into the stirrup. Instead, insert just the ball of your foot into the stirrup and point your toes upward for balance. This will help avoid being caught if you were to get thrown from your horse.
Finally, have fun but pay attention to your surroundings. Horses will go where you guide them and if you are distracted, a horse might go off the path and wander where they think you want to go based on what they are sensing. Always keep at least one horse-length behind other riders in your group.
Most importantly for riding in the wilderness, tell someone not riding with you where you are going and give a timeline for when you should return. If your horse were to become spooked and run away, unless you know your whereabouts, you could become lost.
By practicing horseback riding safety, you will have an enjoyable time becoming one with nature.