Trail Riding Buddies
I know I can say, training aside, there is a social aspect to riding. It is nice to have some company on a long conditioning ride or when I have a greenie out for his first couple trail rides (ok I guess we are always training.... right?). It is nice to spend some time out on the trail with those we get along with and share the same horsey interests with, while riding in beautiful open country. It's relaxing, its fun, and it can also be more safe riding with a partner or a small group if something goes wrong.
This is what I want to hit on, safety. More and more I am not riding alone as much as I used to. I do love to ride alone, it gives me undivided attention to my surroundings and to working with my horse. But I am also coming more aware of the dangers of riding alone in remote places without cell phone service and easy access.
If I am riding out alone, I will always let someone know when I am headed out, where I am going, and how long I expect to be out there. Just a simple text I will send to a family member or friend that is familiar with the area I am riding. At least then someone has a general idea where to come looking if I don't return!
I think it can be obvious riding with a partner can really be beneficial if something does goes wrong. One of you can go for help and you also have someone else to asses the situation with you. Now I am always thinking about safety, those that know me best, know I am pretty particular about riding etiquette and handling horses in the back country. This is because what you do, can and will affect me and my horse safety wise, either for the good or for the bad. I do understand that sometimes things can just go wrong, but I want to feel confident that the person or people I am riding with will be able to handle a frightened horse or be able to navigate difficult trail on their own.
With all this being said out loud, I have not ever had a major catastrophe (knock on wood), but there have been several close calls. I was happy I had someone with me in those instances. I ride with those that have very good horse handling skills on the GROUND, because sometimes it is actually more safe to get off and navigate from foot, IF you have groundwork handling skills in your back pocket. I ride with those that understand communication is VERY important. We always ask the other before trotting off, or will ask the other to please wait while we work with our horse if he's struggling with something.
To achieve this, I can say I have a select small handful of people I will ride with that I feel confident being safest we can be. Now, I will ride with people I don't know as well, of course I love meeting new people! But I will probably want to discuss and choose our riding area and also the horse I am riding with a mindset on how to make things as safe as possible.
I encourage you to think about who you ride with and how they affect you. Do you feel safe? Do you feel like there is a good line of communication? We never like to think of the worst case scenario, but lets be honest, it happens, it's just a matter of when. Safety first to enjoy the trail always!