Michigan Horse Council

Promoting and Protecting the Horse Industry Since 1973

Trail Etiquette

What is good trail etiquette?
Basically it’s common sense and respecting others. For instance, if you’re riding in a group, only ride as fast as the least experienced rider. Don’t leave another rider alone so you can trot or gallop ahead. His horse might get upset and race after you. If someone has to dismount for any reason, stand still until he is back in the saddle. This also applies if someone drops a rein or has to stop for any reason, stay with him, don’t go walking off.

Never trot or canter up behind other riders. Slow to a walk and ask to pass. Wait until they acknowledge you, then give them plenty of room since you don’t know if their horses will kick. Turn your horse to face horses coming from behind passing. If your horse kicks, tie a red ribbon in his tail as a warning. When riding on narrow winding trails, listen for approaching riders and call to them, then look for a wider place to pass.

If you decide to pony or lead another horse, keep him on a short lead, especially when other horses pass. Don’t let him swing his rump around or block the trail. When exercising a youngster don’t let it run loose. Just because your horse doesn’t mind a cute youngster running around kicking at him it doesn’t mean other horses, especially mares, will like it. Keep youngsters on a lead and under control. This applies to dogs also as not all horses like dogs.

When you come upon an obstacle on the trail, give the rider ahead plenty of time to get through it. Don’t run up on his rump. When crossing water or a bridge, depending on the width of the crossing, wait until the horse ahead of you is at least halfway through before you start across. If the horse ahead of you is leery of crossing, ask the rider first if he wants your help. Don’t just charge in. It often helps when traveling with a youngster or spookier horse to keep it next to or just behind a more seasoned horse. This applies to novice riders also.

Riding in the arena, or on the trail, or just standing around, keep some distance between your horse and others, even stablemates. Don’t let your horse sniff at or rub his head on other horses or riders. While this looks cute, riders have been knocked from the saddle by a horses friendly head rub.

Always tell someone where you are going and how long you expect to be one. Don’t ask your horse to do something he is not capable of, like climbing up or down an extremely steep hill. If the terrain becomes too rough, turn back or get off and lead your horse. Stay on the trail, don’t go blazing new trails. Especially on switchbacks. Be aware of your environment. Don’t get to chatting with your friends and forget your riding. Many accidents happen at the walk because the rider wasn’t paying attention to where his horse was going or what he was seeing. Horses are great radar systems and through their body language, especially their ears, they can tell you if something is wrong. You just need to listen.

Always carry some form of identification with emergency contact number. A good place for this is in the brim of your riding helmet so you always have it. Some riders even attach tags to their bridle with their phone number in case their horse gets loose.

Trail riding is a fun and challenging equestrian activity. It can also be a very dangerous one. But you and your horse can share years of enjoyment if you just follow a few simple rules and exercise good judgment.

Horse Camp Etiquette:

Horse camp etiquette is just as important. One reason we go camping is to enjoy the peace of the great outdoors. To relieve our stress, to unwind. When you are in camp you will have neighbors. A loose and or barking dogs are very disturbing as well as unruly children. So keep camp quiet. Make sure your children are aware of camp rules and etiquette. Courtesy and communication are key elements while in camp for this will insure peaceful relations and pleasant camping for all.

Park your horse trailer and other vehicles in designated areas only. Day users are also asked to park in segregated areas so as to not conflict with campers. Use the facilities such as picket lines provided for securing and feeding of your animals. Use tree savers when tying to trees. Walk your horse in campground and in congested areas. Dogs are to be kept under control or on restraint at all times. Please keep them quite so as not to disturb other campers and do not allow your dog to wonder into other camps without invitation. Park rules tell us not to water or wash at a potable water hydrants. For sanitary reasons carry the water to a more suitable location for use. Forestry rules tell us to keep your livestock at least 200 feet from streams or lakes. While camping, most areas do not allow your stock to wade in the water. The exception being water crossings on the trail. Keep your camp clean. Some places provide facilities for the placement of manure, unused feed or hay. Carry a rake, pitchfork, and/or shovel. If no facility is provided to leave manure you must pack it back home. And last but not least, Always Check camp rule and abide by them.

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Upcoming Events

10:00 am The Brighton to Pinckney Ride @ Brighton Recreation Area
The Brighton to Pinckney Ride @ Brighton Recreation Area
Oct 6 @ 10:00 am – 4:00 pm
The Brighton to Pinckney Ride – October 6 from 1:30pm to 3:30pm Drive your rig to the Brighton Staging Area to register between 10:00 & 11:00 am. Then tie your horse or leave with friend (recommended that you come with a friend who can watch...
9:00 am Walking Horse Association of Mic... @ Everett A. Cummins Center Park
Walking Horse Association of Mic... @ Everett A. Cummins Center Park
Oct 13 @ 9:00 am – 3:00 pm
The Walking Horse Association of Michigan invites you to participate in our Fundraiser, Fall All Breed Judged Trail Ride. A marked trail ride of approximately five miles will contain ten obstacles for you to navigate; testing your horsemanship skills, trail safety knowledge as well as...

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