If I was alone it'd be a phone to call for help...assuming I'm riding somewhere with some possibility of phone service. If not maybe I'd choose a knife. I just can think of sooo many situations where a knife doesn't help...a phone is good because you can call for help.
If I was in a group, we'd each strategically pick a different thing so that we'd end up with lots of things.
I'm going to cheat, there are two things I won't trail ride around here:
a knife and a pistol. Too many wolves, bears, coyotes anymore to be going without one. Not that it is legal to shoot bears (out of season) or wolves, coyotes are fair game, but if it came to a bear or wolf attacking my horse, or me, the pistol will certainly be used.
^ I would also probably want a handgun, not that it would do much by the time a cougar was on top of me, lol.
And don't worry, bears don't actually usually attack tjings (especially horses) unless you surprise them (and they feel threatened) of they are starving. :) Posted via Mobile Device
The 1st thing I always make sure I have on my saddle is water. I may have used a knife once or twice over the years. But I drink water every ride.
The second thing that I make sure is on my saddle, is a jacket or rain slicker. Mountain temps can change from a nice 80* to 30 something in very short period. A afternoon thundershower can get you wet and cold and send you into hypothermia in 15-20 minutes. In my cantle bag, I keep matches and 2oz of Charcoal starting fluid to start fires quickly.