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Equine Safety
Trail Riding Tips

There is nothing more important than equine safety. And since knowledge is power, this page will hopefully give you some ideas/tips & pointers to keep you, your family, friends and your horses safe. Obviously, we won't cover every aspect, but we will try to cover a few highlights that fellow curly horse riders find important enough to share. Along the right hand side you will see additional links to other resources to gain more understanding and hopefully prevent a tragedy from happening.

This article is going to target safety under saddle as well as some safety tips in hauling your horses on long journeys. Usually the two go hand in hand if you ride alot. Let's start with safe long distance traveling with your horse trailers. 

10 Must-Read Tips: Safe Long-Distance Traveling With Your Horse Trailer

There is nothing more relaxing than trail riding with your favorite equine buddy, great friends and beautiful surroundings, but if you don't put safety first, your experience could be tragic. As docile as many curly horses can be, they are still horses. They can still spook, react and be unpredictable at times. I think many of us have been surprised to find our giant "dogs" can move their 1,200 lb bodies very quickly and without warning.

Let's start by talking about clothing & tack.



One of THE most important things and what CHC and other curly owners promote are the use of HELMETS. We can't stress this enough. Bicyclists are more avid about wearing helmets than the average equestrian, yet we are the ones riding huge animals that often think for themselves.

A huge campaign began after Olympic rider, Courtney King Dye accident., Their mission is to promote helmet wearing anytime you are riding, no matter the discipline.

Companies are making some very nice low profile type helmets these days and are quite attractive too. A personal favorite is the Tipperary Sportage Helmet. For just $55-70 you can have a very safe, well made helmet that protects the back of your head too. Troxel also offers some nice trail styles, just make sure the back of the helmet comes down to protect your brain stem.


What are those you ask? Well, these are new to me too. But I believe they are essential to safe riding. What might help you understand a bit about the need for tapedaros is if we revisit the days of the ol' cowboy. Did you know why cowboys always wore open topped cowboy boots? It wasn't for ease in slipping on and off at the door step. =] It was so that if their foot got caught in the stirrup, they could just slip their boot off rather than be dragged. That vital piece of info has sort of got misplaced over the years because I see some very fancy riding boots that have laces way above the calf. A heel will only do so much, it will not guarantee that your foot won't get stuck. For me, that's where tapedaros come in because in the winter, I need a nice warm boot and many don't slip off easily. Tapedaros not only offer the protection of your foot not getting stuck in the stirrup, but they also protect your feet from the weather and brush and other trail obstacles that could get caught in your stirrup.

If I were to recommend any tapedaros, I would recommend these: They are well made, light weight and offer the full floor so that your foot absolutely can not go through. I personally purchased 2 pair for my husband and I and they are the BEST on the market. Don West, the saddle maker and maker of these amazing tapedaros says he tries to encourage every person that buys one of his custom saddles to also buy the tapedaros because he feel so strongly that they are an essential part to trail safety. Click here to purchase. They are just $129 + shipping and again the best price I found online for any quality type of tapedaros.


~Breast Collar~

Often times you will see breast collars on a horse and think they are just pretty ornaments, but they really do have a vital purpose and should be part of your trail riding horse attire. Proper fitting is also very important.


~First Aid Kit~

Anytime you are out on the trail, you should carry with you a safety pouch or bag of some kind. You should always carry a cell phone ON YOU, not on the horse. Items in your saddle bag should be, lead rope, flashlight, pocket knife, hoof pick, band aids, antibiotic cream, vet wrap, insect repellent for you and your horse, tylenol, light snack and emergency cash to state a few. Make sure you saddle bag is balanced and comfortable for your horse.


~Ground & pre ride work~

Always make sure you have properly prepared your horse for your ride. Begin with basic ground work, gaining respect, trust and control prior to hitting the trail. Get your horse light, responsive at all gates and light to your one rein stop in case of an emergency. Listen to your gut, it is your best indictor. If you don't feel something is right, don't go until you are confident. Start slow and don't rely on other people or horses to keep you & your horse safe.

~Hoof Check~

Be sure to pick out all four feet and look for any issues that could be a problem on the trail. You don't want to have your horse go lame or sore 10 miles from home. During your pre-ride check make sure your horse is traveling well and is not lame or sore during movement as well.

~Tack Check~

Be sure to check over your tack and make sure there are no compromising parts, buckles that are weak or rips anywhere. It is always a good idea to keep your tack in tip top shape year around. This not only prevents drying out leather, breakage etc., but clean well kept saddle pads, halters, girths etc. are essential to your horse being happy and comfortable too. Also double check that all your tack is fitted properly. Saddle pads, saddle, cinch, breast collar and bridle.


Before riding, make sure you know who you are riding with and that they have the same basic safety guidelines you do. Horses are not snowmobiles. Other horses and impolite riders can fuel even the best of horses. They can also put you in danger. Make sure you or your human buddies know the trail well. A GPS is always a great tool if you have one with you.


If you have a tip you would like to share, please email and I will add it with your name and ranch URL.


NEVER USE a TIE DOWN on the Trial! When you stop at a River, or Lake with your horse for a drink or to cross they can slip & Drown. Susan Hathaway, Oregon


Final thoughts from the April 2007 Horse & Rider magazine

DO IT RIGHT - tips for becoming a savvy trail rider

To become more like the scout-savvy rider, follow these tips:

  • Be aware of the terrain to be traversed on the ride, and prepare for it in advance if need be to boost yours and your horse's confidence. (Will there be water crossings? If so, practice ahead of time)
  • Establish solid whoa, go, turn, and 'wait" controls on your horse before you go out on the trail. Don't expect to school your horses in the midst of a group of horses, in a new environment.
  • Condition your horse for the amount and type of riding you'll be asking of him. if the longest you've ridden at one time is 2 hours, don't expect him to go all day without build up to it gradually.
  • Check that his feet/shoes are in good shape. Schedule an appointment with your farrier before the ride if need be.
  • Safety-check your equipment, and make sure you'll have everything you will need for the type of trip you are taking. For overnite stays, especially, work from a detailed 'don't forget" list, cross-referencing your list with those of more experienced riding buddies if need be.
  • Check the weather and the condition of the trail in question to verify that your chosen date is a good time to go.
  • Plan your own apparel according to the weather and other needs of the trip. ie good shoes, sunscreen.
  • Plan ahead to provide water for yourself and your horse.
  • Check that your hauling rig is in safe, well-maintained condition and capable of making it to and from the trail head. Fill up your gas tanks.
  • Make sure you know the others you'll be riding with and trust their horsemanship and common sense.
  • On the trail, keep your horse at least a horse's length away from the horse in front of you, and encourage the rider in back of you to do the same.
  • If you horse has any propensity to kick at other horses, signal this with a red ribbon in his tail so others know to stay back.
  • Remember always that trail riding with others requires all the courtesies appropriate for any group endeavor. Be considerate, unselfish, and willing to be part of a democratic process in decision making.


The Curly Horse Country web site is for informational purposes only. No one associated with The Curly Horse Country site assumes any responsibility for its accuracy. The information is subject to change without notice. Any use of, or actions taken based upon any of the information contained on this web site is done entirely at your own risk. Mention of any products or services is for informational purposes only and constitutes neither an endorsement nor a recommendation. As with any new product or food source, consult your veterinarian or trainer before using or feeding.