With summer just around the corner, many of us are getting ready to hit the trails. Hoof Trimmer Supply has a few tips to help make your summer trail rides as enjoyable as possible for both you and your horse.
The first essential is fly control, for obvious reasons. You likely spray your horse down with fly spray before you hop on for a ride but carrying a small bottle with you on the trail in a saddle bag is a great idea for longer rides, just make sure the lid is on tight so it doesn't leak. You may also want to see if your horse is happier with either a bonnet or fly mask during your rides. Some horses are perfectly happy with a bonnet to keep the bugs away from their ears while others do better with a full fly mask. Some experimenting can help you determine what your horse prefers. You may also want to consider wearing a "human fly mask" (I found one called a "mosquito head net" on Amazon for under $10). I wear my fly mask for most of my rides and while it may look a little silly, I'm able to enjoy my rides in peace. If you plan to ride above a walk, I recommend wearing your fly mask under a hat or helmet to hold it in place.
This being a hoof care blog, we cannot overlook a few hoof essentials for your trail adventures. The number 1 essential tool that everybody should carry with them for trail rides is a hoof pick. Hoof picks are small, lightweight, and fit easily into saddle bags or the pocket of a trail saddle pad. Do yourself and your horse a favor and put a spare hoof pick in your saddle bags in case your horse steps on a rock or stick and gets it lodged in his or her hoof. If your horse wears shoes, it's a good idea to carry a shoe puller with you in case one of their shoes gets pulled a little loose while you're riding. Get an inexpensive shoe puller and ask your farrier to teach you how to safely pull a shoe in case of emergency. This can save your horse a lot of pain from walking on a twisted shoe and save your wallet from expensive vet/farrier bills. Regardless of whether your horse is barefoot or shod, it's a good idea to take a pair of hoof boots with you in case you hit particularly rough/rocky ground. A barefoot horse may need a little extra protection from the rocks so you can pop the boots on to help prevent stone bruises. You may want to put the boots on a shod horse to prevent rocks from getting wedged under the shoe. You may also want to have boots to put on your shod horse in case he or she loses a shoe while out riding. Just throw a boot on the newly barefoot hoof to protect it from damage until you can get back to the barn and have the farrier tack the shoe back on.
Another thing to be aware of before you hit the trails is the local hunting season. If you don't know when and were hunting is fair game, it's a good idea to look it up before making your plans. You should also be aware of appropriate colors to wear to keep both you and your horse safe from hunters. Bright eye-catching colors are usually safer in the woods, just to be safe. If you're going to be riding on or near roads, you may want to invest in reflective gear for both yourself and your horse so drivers have the best chance of seeing you and passing safely.
That should just about cover your horse's needs for your summer trail adventures but don't forget to pack plenty of water and a cell phone for yourself as well. Water is obviously important for hydration but can also help you cool down if you get too hot out on the trails. The cell phone is an unfortunate necessity on the trails. As much as we would all love to be able to leave that pesky cell phone behind and just enjoy our time in nature, it's probably best to silence it and bring it along in case of emergency.
Most importantly, take a good horse, maybe a couple friends too, and enjoy your trail rides! If there are any trail ride essentials that you always take that we've left out, please let us know what they are here.