Recreation & Participation / Trail Safety & Etiquette

Trail Safety & Etiquette

Trail riding can be one of the most fun activities to do with your horse, but it is important to understand and practice safe trail riding. The safety tips on this page will help keep you and your horse safe, knowledgeable, and comfortable when you hit the trails.

Whether you ride your horse during the day or night, are sticking to your own property or heading out to a wilderness area, proper preparation will set you up for a successful, safe adventure. Read on…

  • Choose one map to follow before venturing out, to ensure that the entire group is on the same page. Make sure someone else knows where you will be going.
  • If possible, do a pre-check on the trail or call in advance to be sure that it is in good condition and to ask about any potential trouble spots along the way.
  • Decide as a group what is expected of the riders and their horses. Point out which horses are dominant, the speedy or slow walkers, mares that may be in heat, and horses that have a tendency to kick. Also, discuss each rider’s skill level so the more advanced ones can look out for the novices.
  • Designate an experienced rider with a seasoned horse as the group leader. This person should know the trail well and be confident that he or she can handle myriad situations.
  • Ensure the rider with the most first aid knowledge is carrying the first aid kit.
  • Choose a form of emergency communication. If cell phones won’t work in the area you plan to be in (this is often the case), you’ll have to rely on two-way radios to contact emergency help.


Trail riding, like all aspects of equine activity, has its rules and regulations pertaining to trail use and courtesy. How a person rides a trail can determine not only their own enjoyment but the safety of themselves, their horse and other trail users.

With the high demand for trails, there are very few trails dedicated strictly to horseback riding. On average, and especially in highly populated areas, most trails are multi-use or combined usage.

Understanding etiquette goes hand-in-hand with safety on the trails. Read about trail riding etiquette (


Trail riding is a popular way to spend time outdoors enjoying nature, friendship, and your horse. Safety should be first and foremost when riding on the trails. There are many considerations to keep in mind as you prepare to hit the trails.

AdventureSmart shares excellent resources on safety and even an app to plan your trip!

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