Story & Picture by Beth Jennings, Horse Trainer & Riding Champion
The dog days of a desert summer lure the horse owner to ride in the coolness and shade of a higher altitude. Here are some tips to help your horse, yourself, and the environment.
DO keep those first rides at higher elevations short until your horse becomes accustomed to the altitude. This will help your health as well as theirs in avoiding altitude sickness.
DO take a day sheet or light blanket along for your horse plus a rain jacket for yourself. Temperatures can drop quickly in the mountains, leading to abrupt and chilling rain storms.
DO maintain a “pack it in pack it out” policy. Check out any Back Country Horsemen website for handy specifics.
DO bring along a multi-tool, flashlight, small emergency medical pack (Band-Aids, gauze, and antiseptic), duct tape, water, and a healthy snack in your pommel pack or saddlebag. I bring a collapsible bucket or extra-large freezer bag to water my horse, if necessary. Emergencies may arise at any time. Keep your cell phone on your body; it’s hard to dial 911 when your cell phone has run off down the trail without you!
DO travel with a manure fork and muck bucket or five gallon container. Pick up the area around your trailer and hitching post/stall, including manure, feed, and bedding.
DO NOT tie your horse directly to a tree—if you must, tie a high-line between two trees to keep both the bark and leaves from destruction, saving their beauty for the next rider.
DO keep your horse moving when defecating on the trail. This will disperse manure, allowing for quicker drying and fewer flies for the hikers and bikers you share the trails with. It is prudent to teach your horse to defecate while mov- ing when at home; it’s too late once you have hit the trail. When sharing a hiking trail in our national parks, the best policy is to dismount and remove the manure from the trail. This keeps our trails “horse and hiker friendly.”
DO NOT cut new trails and damage the environment even if you are lost (you should have been taking pictures of important trail markers along the way or carrying a map/GPS to avoid getting lost in the first place).
DO teach your horse to cross through water—whether puddles or creeks—at home. This lessens the chance of your horse prancing about a crossing and destroying plant life.
DO keep moving through bodies of water unless allowing your horse to drink. Horses that stand too long in water may lie down and roll, defecate, or urinate. Let’s keep our water clear.
DO check with the Forest Service regarding weed free feed. Non-native plants can be transported in feed or even hooves, quickly taking root and destroy- ing natural vegetation.
Have fun and stay cool!
For more trail riding tips and suggestions visit www.invictafarms.com.