A day on the trails is a great way to experience nature while bonding with your horse and friends. Regardless of age or level of riding expertise, most anyone can trail ride. However, there is more to trail riding than just getting on a horse and heading out on a trail to explore.
Preparation is key to having an enjoyable trail ride experience. Before you begin your adventure, make sure both you and your horse are fit for the conditions that may be present on the trail. Don't choose a trail with steep inclines or travel vast distances without being in proper condition.
Also, try to introduce your horse to as many spooky situations as you can prior to your ride. Typical trail rides include bikes peddling alongside, birds flying by, streams along your path, fallen trees and more. Remember, having a "bombproof" horse in the ring doesn't mean you will have a "bombproof" trail horse.
No matter how well prepare you are for your trail ride, it's always a good idea to have a friend along for the ride. Not only is it more fun to have a trail buddy, but it's always nice to have an extra set of hands available if the unexpected happens. Regardless of how well prepared you are, accidents can happen. An extra set of hands will be helpful if you require assistance or first aid.
Don't have a trail buddy? Don't call the ride off just yet! Just be smart about your adventure. Make sure you alert someone at the barn as to your plan, route and estimated return time. This way if you don't return as planned, they can start looking in the right area.
Just as you would pack a few essentials in the car for a road trip, it's important to have a few supplies on hand when hitting the trails. Always take a cell phone along with identification, and keep it on you. This way, should you become separated from your horse, you won't think, "Oh no, my phone and ID were in my saddle bag!" If you require special medications, like an epi-pen, consider putting them in your saddlebag or in a fanny pack.
A small first aid kit is also a must. At the very least bring along a hoof pick, pocket knife, map of the trail, water, vet wrap and duct tape. Duct tape can help get a horse that throws a shoe back to the barn, without tearing up its hoof too badly.
Finally, pack some portable snacks. Granola bars, trail mix and nuts are excellent options to take. While you're at it, pack a treat for your horse. You might want to reward him for facing a "scary" obstacle along the way.