17 Tips for Recreational Trail Riders

Trail riding season is in full swing, and our sources answered 17 questions about keeping your horse sound and healthy.

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Recreational Riding Done Right
A trail horse will come across challenges that are never seen in an arena or on the farm. | Photo: iStock

Tips to keep you and your horse healthy on the trail

With trail riding season in full swing, you might have already heard that one or more of your trail buddies’ horses are dealing with lameness or other health struggles. Layups due to injury or illness can cost you, both in veterinary bills and in time lost from your favorite activity.

Although it sometimes seems that horses disproportionately invoke Murphy’s Law, there are proactive steps you can take to increase the likelihood your four-footed trail-riding buddy stays healthy and happy all season. Riding the right horse is first and foremost. A level-headed horse will keep both himself and you safe and, on the trail (as in most life situations), health and safety go hand in hand. Although trail riding is a carefree stroll through nature for some horses, others aren’t cut out for it.

“A trail horse will come across challenges that are never seen in an arena or on the farm,” says Kristen Reiter, DVM, a veterinarian from Oak Harbor, Washington, who has participated in informal and organized rides for 23 years. “Riding a horse that sizes up the obstacles and creatures it encounters, thinks them through, and has minimal spook response will be safer than the horse whose flight response outweighs its reasoning and thought processes

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Written by:

Diane Rice earned her bachelor’s degree in agricultural journalism from the University of Wisconsin, then married her education with her lifelong passion for horses by working in editorial positions at Appaloosa Journal for 12 years. She has also served on the American Horse Publications’ board of directors. She now freelances in writing, editing, and proofreading. She lives in Middleton, Idaho, and spends her spare time gardening, reading, serving in her church, and spending time with her daughters, their families, and a myriad of her own and other people’s pets.

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