What can I expect during a trail ride?

You’ve explored our site, or talked to club members, and have decided that you’d like to participate in a trail ride, either as a new paid member or with your once-in-a-lifetime participation.  What can you expect during this event?  What is expected of you, and what is provided by the club?

Q:What is the ride sheet?

The ride sheet is an important source of information about a particular ride that you may be interested in.  Some of the information found will be:

  • date
  • location with instructions on how to get there
  • what the nature of terrain is
  • the ride rating (easy, moderate, hard)
  • whether horse shoes or boots are recommended
  • any details of that particular ride

The ride sheets are available from the Trail Rides  page.

Q:When do we normally first meet?

This depends on the nature of the trail ride.  For a single day ride we meet at the staging area to get ready to ride the same day.  However, most rides are held over a weekend, and so generally members gather the previous Friday evening.

The ride sheet will have more information about this for individual rides.

Q:How many rides would there be on a weekend event?

Because we gather the previous evening we’re ready to get a good start on the main ride.  The last day of the event we break camp to head home, so a ride that morning tends to be a half day.

So for example, on a normal two day weekend, we would haul to the ride site after work on Friday, have a day long ride on Saturday, and then a half day ride on Sunday so we have time to pack-up and head home Sunday aft.

On a long weekend the members will haul to the ride site Friday evening after work, have  a day long ride on both Saturday and Sunday, and a half day ride on the Monday.

Q:When do the rides start?

The weekend rides normally head-out at 9:00 – 10:00 am.  But this really does depend on changing circumstances and may vary at the discretion of the host and trail boss.  Confirm with them about any changing situations.

You need to be saddled and ready to go for the time that has been provided.

Q:How long do the rides last?

Generally a day ride will see us return to camp between 3:00 – 5:00 pm.  A half day ride will see us return around noon or early aft.

Q:What do we need to bring on a trail ride?

This is a big question, for both the camping and trail ride.  For example, on  the trail there’s the obvious stuff like a bag lunch and halter, but a list like this would be far too extensive to answer here.  The best resource for this is the Guidelines for Camping & Trail Gear available in the Links & Docs  section.  It provides an extensive recommended list of what to bring for camp and trail.

Q:What do coloured ribbons tied in the tail mean?

Coloured ribbons tied into the horse’s tail hair is a way of communicating to other riders about a horse’s behaviour peculiarities:

  • Red ribbons indicate that a horse is a kicker.  Other riders should be careful not to crowd the horse, especially from behind.
  • A green ribbon means a horse is green, or inexperienced.  It is suitable for young horses or for horses who are particularly spooky.  Give the horse space so that an unexpected spook or misbehaviour doesn’t affect you.
  • Blue or yellow ribbons indicate a stallion.  Stallions are not allowed on our sanctioned rides.
  • A white ribbon indicates that the horse is for sale.  This is used in an arena so that spectators know that a rider is open to being approached about the sale of the horse; it’s not really needed on a trail ride.

Q:What are some good riding etiquette tips while on the trail?

The following list outlines some common sense courtesies that makes the ride more enjoyable for all:

  • if your horse has a tendency to kick or threaten other horses, tie a red ribbon to the tail to warn others
  • if your horse is green to trail riding, and has a tendency to spook or behave erratically, tie a green ribbon to the tail
  • keep good control of your horse at all times
  • maintain a horse length distance from the horse in front of you
  • do not allow your horse to nuzzle, scratch, or threaten other horses
  • do not run up on other horses
  • always be able to keep the rider behind in view
  • be courteous and helpful to your fellow riders – if someone needs to stop, wait for them and notify the trail boss
  • if you spot a hazard or anything out of the ordinary, point it out to your fellow riders
  • watch for holes and don’t travel fast on unfamiliar ground
  • wait for the person closing gates to remount
  • walking up or down steep hills will eliminate the danger of falling or leg strain
  • keep warm horses moving after a drink
  • pack out what you pack in
  • when riding with a group, be saddled and ready on time

Q:I’ve seen pictures that show the campsites.  Do I need an RV?

Some of us prefer a cushy mattress, ice for beverages, and other “basic” necessities.  However, there is no minimum requirement for how you’d like to camp.  Many of our members are quite comfy with a more rustic style of accommodation, and modern hi-tech backpacking gear has come a long ways.  And remember, if you are new to this and get caught short on stuff or not sure what to do, the more experienced members are good about helping out and providing advice.

This is a great way to get introduced to the enjoyment of camping.  Many spouses of riders that don’t themselves ride, guys and gals, come just for the camping and group camaraderie.

Q:What about meals?

Each camping unit looks after their own food and beverages of choice.  Remember to bring a bag-type lunch on full day rides.

Often, one of the meals is a potluck, so be prepared to bring an easy to prepare dish to contribute to the table.  More information about this is included on the ride sheet.

Q:I’m staying in a tent.  Are there toilet facilities available?

Many of the locations that we go to have facilities available.  Remote locations may not have facilities, but where possible we try to provide a rental toilet.

Q:When do I need to contact the host?

Notifying the ride host is important.  If gives the host an idea of how many folks are coming so that proper arrangements can be made for the site.

The standard we use is that interested riders notify the host by 8:00 pm the Tuesday leading up to the event.  This give enough time to adjust arrangements if needed.

The host’s contact information will be found on the ride sheet.

Q:How will I be notified if a ride is cancelled?

For most events some riders show up that didn’t notify the ride host, and that is fine.  Don’t not come just because you missed the notification cutoff.  However, if there have to be changes, or the ride is cancelled, then obviously the trail host will notify those that said they were coming.

If there is enough lead time, changes will be posted on the Trail Ride page and by email.  Last minute changes will be done by phone.

Q:What type of horse do I need?

This is a great question, but pretty hard to define.  Your horse needs to be big enough to carry what you need to bring.  As a general guideline, a horse can comfortably carry 15-20% of its body weight – this includes tack, gear, and your personal weight.  Loading your horse with 25% or more of it’s body weight will sore it over a longer ride.  This is a simplistic way of thinking about it, as fitness and conformation are major contributors.  Think about the kind of shape your horse is in, whether it’s exercised regularly or overweight without much activity.

Imagine an inactive person being asked to carry a moderately light backpack for an eight hour hike – pretty tough.  An active and practised hiker can pack considerably more, and be ready to do it again the next day.

Breed doesn’t matter, but temperament and being able to get along with other horses does.  Additionally, your horse should have enough training to comply with basic instructions while on the trail.

Studs are not allowed on sanctioned rides.

Q:Do you rent horses?

We do not rent horses.