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Safety on the Trail

It's that time of year when us horse folk start thinking about getting our horses out for their first rides for 2020. Or, if you are lucky, you have already been at it hitting the trail or getting some arena time in. For me, working full time seasonally at DOT in the winter, in addition to Cle Elum's unpredictable weather, I am usually slow going to get out and ride, but ready to saddle up first sign of spring.

The weather, just last week, did not feel like a typical February and I got that calling for the trail. It's been too long! Sun was out, it was so warm, no wind, snow was practically melted, and I had a good friend meet me at the trail head. We headed out, not the first official ride, but the first TRAIL ride of the year! It started great but soon sent me into direct panic mode when my friends horse slipped on some ice and fell, landing on my friend. Fortunately, everyone was ok, horse and human. But this incident brought to my eyes how quick things can happen, even with the BEST trained horses.

I focus a lot of my training on safety, and how we can set ourselves and horses up for success using safety as a main guideline. There are however, instances that we just cannot control or predict and let's face it, anything involving a 1,000lb animal is potentially very dangerous.

My point of this blog post is to get you thinking about how you would handle an accident out on the trail. What would your first action be if the same ice accident happened to you or your trail riding partner? Are you prepared to get help, or are you prepared to help directly yourself? How will you do this? What should you carry with you on a trail ride? Do you know basic first aid and CPR?

Things happen so quickly and I think it's too easy to become complacent, especially if you have been accident free for a long time. I know I will be making some changes, updating my First Aid/CPR knowledge, and I plan on purchasing a GPS Garmin In-Reach device that will call for help, even when there is no cell service. What is your protocol and what are your plans for safe riding this year 2020?

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