By Sharon Rogers
Are you thinking about going trail riding? I love riding the trail. It can be both peaceful and exhilarating at the same time. If you are planning a ride it is important to know the appropriate trail riding gear, so you can plan accordingly. Safety and comfort are the name of the game. Once you know what gear you will need for yourself, you will need to have the horse tack that will make the ride both safe and comfortable for your horse.
Essential Trail Riding Gear
Helmet- always wear a correctly fitted ASTM/SEI certified helmet. These helmets meet the highest safety standards and will protect you in the event of an accident. If the weather is cold, add a helmet cover for extra warmth.
Bright Colored Clothing- wearing bright colors, whether on a t-shirt, bandanna or jacket will give you added visibility. There is a definite advantage to standing out from your surroundings when riding the trail, especially if you are riding alone.
Cell Phone- portable technology can play a big role in finding you in case something goes wrong. If you are injured or lost you can call for help. If you are unable to call, the location services on your device will lead your rescuers to you.
Identification – I tape an ID card inside of my helmet and include a copy in my saddlebags and on my horse. If my horse and I get separated the information may be just what is needed to reunite us.
Wind and Water Resistant Jacket- a lightweight jacket that can offer some protection if the weather changes is a trail riding gear essential.
Knife or Utility Tool- carrying a knife or an all in one tool makes on the trail repairs to your gear or your horse tack a lot easier.
Flashlight- regardless of what time of day you are riding, a flashlight tucked in your pack can come in handy. Sometimes night falls a little quicker than you expect. A flashlight will keep you on the trail and headed home safely.
Provisions- water and some durable concentrated energy bars are a good idea. Food and water, even on a short ride, are an important addition to any pack.
Essential Horse Tack for the Trail
Saddle- a good fitting saddle is of the utmost importance anytime you are riding your horse. Trail riding makes the fit even more important. A trail saddle, fitted to your horse, will make the ride more enjoyable.
Saddle Pad- a longer length saddle pad that extends beyond the edges of the saddle will protect your horse from chafing on a long trail ride.
Halter & Lead Rope- this equipment is a great addition to your saddlebags. It gives you the option of stopping and tying your horse off, safely.
Protective Leg Gear- Many trail rides take you through areas where your horse may scratch his legs. Protective gear is a useful preventative to keep your horse’s legs injury free.
Hoof Pick- a hoof pick in your saddle bag can make your horse much more comfortable if a stone gets stuck in its hoof. The pick makes removal easy, and you and your horse can continue the ride.
Insect Repellent and Sunscreen- these two items are essentials for both horse and rider. Light skinned horses can sunburn as easily as I do. Keep that in mind and protect yourself and your four legged friend.
I have no doubt that everyone who enjoys trail riding has one more thing they could add to this list; something that they have found they cannot live without. I am also certain that as you become an expert trail rider you will make your own additions to the list. In the meantime, pack up your bag and hit the trail!