Who’s excited for their upcoming trail rides?
We’re all ready to hit the trails with our equine partners. “It would be fun to get a group of my family and friends to go on a trail ride with me,” you think. Then it happens- the flashbacks to last year’s group trail rides. The complaining, the stiff walking, the grumpiness, and the general avoidance of anything about horses for a solid two weeks after the ride by your entire group. How can you make a trail ride better for your non-horsey comrades?
We complied a small list of tips (polled from non-horsey folks after a trail ride experience) to help your next ride with friends and family!
Tip #1 – Plan breaks: You may be able to ride for hours on end, but the non-horsey people of your group might get bored or sore easily. Plan to stop and dismount every 20-30 minutes for about 5-10 minutes each. Plan on taking pictures, playing a quick game, or having a snack during that time before hopping back to the saddle. Bonus tip: Keep the ride shorter than you would usually do. If you continue riding with the same group, slowly increase the length.
Tip #2 – Plan a special route: Which sounds more exciting, a waterfall or a patch of grass? When planning your trail route, try to add a point of interest somewhere along the way. Remember, the non-horsey riders are probably just riding for you, not the actual ride.
Tip #3 – Pack snacks and water bottles: The last thing you want on a peaceful trail ride is a grumpy rider with a growling stomach. Bring along some sandwiches, apples, granola bars, etc. – anything that will fit but won’t go bad in a hot saddlebag. After making sure every rider brings their own water bottle, keep and extra 1-2 with you, just in case.
Tip #4 – Acquaint the horse and rider: After pairing up your family/friends with their trail mount, share a little information. Let your mother-in-law know that her horse is scared of tree branches, tell your best friend that his horse will lay down in water if given a chance, inform both cousins to keep their horses away from each other because they like to nip and kick occasionally- then tell them all how to handle the situation if it arises.
Tip #5 – Educate the uneducated: During one of your breaks or even before the ride starts, try to teach your new riders some things about equines. “See the way his ears are? He’s relaxed and listening,” “A horse can gallop at around 27 MPH. No, we won’t be galloping today,” “This metal piece is called the bit. It goes between these teeth here, see the space?” and other facts about equines. Sharing a few pieces of general information could increase a new rider’s appreciation for horses.
Throughout all of this, study your group. Do your riders sigh and roll their eyes when you present a fact or listen eagerly? Do they try to drag out their breaks or hop happily back to the saddle? Do they just seem bored? Make a mental note of all your observations to make your next group ride better- you may be asked to take them on rides a lot more often!
Have any other tips to add? Comment them below!