Girls Horse Club Blog

Pay Attention on the Trail

Published by • Apr 10th, 2009 • Category: Riding Advice

by Rebecca Shyly, age 13

Horses have a better sense of sight and hearing than we do. When you’re on the trail it is important to watch the trail, and look out for danger. But it’s also important to pay attention to your horse, because they might notice danger long before you do.

Horses are prey animals. This makes them very alert to predators. Signs that they sense danger are usually: flicking ears and swishing tail irritatedly, skittishness, nickering, or kicking out at something. When your horse begins showing these signs, look around. Listen. If you don’t see anything, proceed carefully. It could be nothing. Your horse might just be skittish, or afraid of a plastic bag that was fluttering in the wind. Then again, there might really be something that you can’t see.

Your horse might see a snake. This could be dangerous. Walk away from it calmly, or back your horse. DO NOT LET THE HORSE PUT IT’S NOSE DOWN!! It might get bitten on the nose. Your horse might also see a large cat. Where I live, cougars are common. If you see one of these on the trail, your first priority is keeping your horse calm. Mountain lions are his natural predator, and he will most likely be scared. Talk in a loud voice (as long as this won’t spook your horse) clap your hands. Try to move off the trail so the cougar can walk away. If the trail is too narrow, back slowly away. These mountain lion tips also apply to wolves, bears and coyotes. (Note: coyotes will usually leave you alone, except during mating season, or when they have pups.)

The easiest way to stay safe on the trail is never to ride alone. Stay with an experienced rider, and even if you are one, solo riding is a bad idea. Riding at night, dusk or early morning/dawn are not great ideas either, because that is hunting time.

Basically, remember the tips for encountering a predator, don’t ride alone or at hunting times, and pay attention to the signs your horse gives you. Stay safe. I wouldn’t want any of my horse sisters getting hurt!

7 Nickers »

  1. Yeah where i live there are cyotes around now and then… they don’t usualy show themselves though. Foxes are common but i don’t think they would do anything.. unless they were rapid. Champion article! It always pays to play it safe
    ~HF

  2. The only ‘danger’ I’ve seen on a trail is my horse being a pig! I had a horse I rode one tail ride named Tommy and he couldn’t stop eating! I had to steer him away from the nearest greenary and I had to make him walk in a circle a few times to keep him from eating. It was funny!

  3. Very good info!
    There is a mt. lion hanging around our place and it’s a bit creepy! He should be leaving soon, though. We’ve had them before and they usually just pass through to get to the mountains a few miles south of us. I just hope he doesn’t decide to stay for dinner!
    And as for coyotes, they’re always around hunting my poor chickens and rabbits. Nasty brutes. They’re fun to shoot at but thats the only thing that they’re good for. (that I know of anyway) :)

    Don’t have any bears of wolves around,thank goodness! But if I ever run into one I’ll know what to do thanks to your great blog,Rebecca!
    Thank you!

  4. Thats really helpful! Soon I will be going on my first trail ride. It should be fun, but scary at the same time. Where I live its super rare to see bears, coyotes and wolves. But we do have snakes. :0 Wish me luck! Great blog Rebecca!

  5. No whonder because thats usually why horses move there eyes and ears.

  6. wish all of ya luck!!!!

  7. Thanks everyone. Ur all really sweet and Im glad that this blog published.
    I did alot of research to write it.
    Be safe ladies!
    Love,
    Horsecrazzz
    aka
    rebecca shyly