Trail riding (or other "off property" riding) by yourself? Safety? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 49 Old 02-10-2020, 10:41 AM Thread Starter
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Trail riding (or other "off property" riding) by yourself? Safety?

I never considered this issue until recently. I've ALWAYS done trail riding, or road riding, or whatever, by myself without a second thought. You get on a horse and you go--and I always liked being out there with just me and the horse and nature--or the sights of the road. Now, however, I am realizing the safety concerns inherent in this behavior. LOL My husband is reluctant to let me "go off" into the woods on my own. Even the best horses can spook at something and in thick woods, there's always the chance of getting knocked off by branches overhead, doing something stupid yourself, etc.

We thought we have this problem licked by having my husband on the farm property, in the car, while I ride with either a walkie talkie or cell phone on me. But then he said the other day--what if you fall off and are knocked unconscious? Ugh, too much logic! :)
I know to many of you, this may seem like a ridiculous topic. Every TV show and movie your watch with horses ("Heartland" comes to mind) the people are out on a trail or in the back country on their horse--alone--it's just the norm. So I'm curious if any of you have thought of this? Do you have plans in place? Do those of you over 40 (or 50) still go out there with a renegade cowboy attitude, and it's always been fine?

I do have a couple people at the farm that I can do trail riding with, occasionally, but not consistently--we are not always going to be able to be at the barn on the same day. My husband might hike with me while I ride. But that just seems silly. Is horseback riding just one of those things where you know it comes with inherent risks and you accept them and carry on?

I mean--I DID walk into tigers' and lions' cages every day for 3 years. When you have a 500lb predator rubbing against your legs is NOT the time to be squeamish about safety. I mean, you do things as safely as possibly, and with precautions in place--but there's only so much you can control and you just accept those risks as part of what you want to do with your life. Is this was trail riding by yourself is like?

I am having Spring Fever really bad. The trails at my barn are closed October/November-April because the family hunts on them--regularly and often. It's disconcerting for me. And it sucks that there will be no beautiful Fall trail riding. I'm itching to get out of the darned arena!! But I want to be sure I'm also not being a reckless idiot. :)
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When I bestride him, I soar. I am a hawk: he trots the air; the earth sings when he touches it; the basest horn of his hoof is more musical than the pipe of Hermes” — Shakespeare
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post #2 of 49 Old 02-10-2020, 10:57 AM
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I think it comes down to personal choice. If you're okay with the extra risks of going it alone then that's your decision to make, as long as it's an informed one. T.V. shows can show all sorts of things we shouldn't do in real life (gotta love that Hollywood magic...most of the actors in a lot of shows I've seen don't even know how to ride anyway...I mean what are they even doing with their hands?), so I wouldn't really judge what is the norm based on those.


Riding with other people is fun and can be safer because there's other people there to help if something goes wrong but it also requires scheduling rides with those people and having them around in the first place. Some people simply don't have that luxury, perhaps they're at a boarding barn that doesn't have any other trail riders or doesn't have the same schedule as the other barn goers or any other number of conflicts (perhaps they don't board and so don't even have the option to try and get people to go with them) and they're left with the choice to either ride some trails alone or not ride them at all.


Again, I think it's personal choice. If you're informed about the risks and decide to do it anyway it's really up to you. Ideally we'd all like to be as safe as possible but any number of things could go wrong even on a group trail ride. That being said things can go wrong in an arena too. The only difference is your horse doesn't have a chance of escaping in the woods in that scenario.
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post #3 of 49 Old 02-10-2020, 11:03 AM
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My sister thinks like your husband, and I think like you. I've not ridden alone often, but thought nothing of it until talking with my sister about how nice my ride was. Her response was to tell me how foolish I was to ride alone...' if you fell off and were unconscious it might be hours or days until someone found you'. I did have the presence of mind to tell a friend what time I was riding out, where I was, and to raise an alarm if she didn't hear back from me in 4 hours...for a 2 hour ride. That wasn't good enough for Sister....'if you have a broken neck or a bleed, and no one looks for you until after 4 hours, you could die before they find you". Sigh.....All true, but there is risk inherent in anything we do...I could go off the road on a rural road and be in a ditch and not found for hours. I have only ridden once alone since Sister told me how FOOLISH I was, and I didn't enjoy it nearly as much,,,I kept thinking how I'd never hear the end of it from her if something happened and I lived thru it. Guess she has me spooked about it now. I did post on here pretty much like you are now, after I was told how foolish I was. Can't remember all the responses, u probably will get about the same results and I will follow this thread as well. I think the bottom line is for each of to decide if the risk is worth it, and to minimize the risk as best we can if we decide to do it....wear a helmet, have a cellphone on us , not on the saddle, tell people where and when. I dunno, Sister spooked me pretty badly.
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post #4 of 49 Old 02-10-2020, 11:10 AM
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I've debated this a LOT lately. Not for a lack of having riding partners, but because I realllly want to see how Mr. Trigger will act in a setting where it's just him and me, away from home, with no barn, no pasture buddies, to hurry back to.


There's pros and cons to it... I am VERY close to trying it, just to see how he does.



The way he's acted lately, I think we'd do just fine, maybe better than ever. Maybe WORSE than ever if we ride up on another group, and he tries to stay with the group. I'll have a fight on my hands. I know how to deal with his spastic self these days but anything can happen.


I'd make sure I rode where I had a solid cell signal, keep my phone and a good knife on my belt, not in the saddle bags, and expect the best but be prepared for the worst and adjust accordingly. Let your spouse know when you arrive at the trail head if you haul away from home, let them know when you're about to ride out, when you take a break on the trail, when you head back to the trailer, and when you're loaded and heading home.

"We are here to laugh at the odds and live our lives so well that death will tremble to take us."
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post #5 of 49 Old 02-10-2020, 11:15 AM
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Hmm...I never thought of riding alone as unusual. I'd say I'm out alone on rural roads/trails 80% of the time I ride. There are some woods trails I don't tend to go if I'm by myself because the footing can be tricky (feels more risky) but there are other places I don't mind. If I didn't ride alone, I'd only ride on the weekend! Generally if I go out alone and no one is home, I will text my husband when I'm leaving with a rough plan for where I'll be, and text him again when I'm back. I use an app where he is added as a user and can log in and generally see where I am (though unfortunately most places I ride, we don't have cell service so it would be a rough approximation of the trail/road I've taken). So to answer your question, yes, the vast majority of my trail miles are solo.
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post #6 of 49 Old 02-10-2020, 11:18 AM
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There are riding apps that will send a distress signal to alert someone if you have not moved for a set amount of time. There are inherent risks in riding and any other sport. You have to determine if you are willing to accept those risks. I trailer out and ride alone a lot. I do not have the vision limitations you do and cannot say if I would ride that way or not. It really is a personal choice. You should walk the trail you plan to ride on with your hubby - if there is a spot he can park the car near to watch out for you then that would help ease his mind. Being familiar with the trail on foot may help your confidence level as well. I personally do not ride a horse I would trust to carry me safely on a technical trail if she did not have me to help her navigate. Don't get me wrong she is a lovely horse but seems to have no sense of self preservation! She will gait or walk down the steepest hills with not a second glance and go between trees that only allow for her and not for my knees - so I need to help her "choose" her trail for my safety in mind
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post #7 of 49 Old 02-10-2020, 11:36 AM
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I ride alone often in the spring/summer/fall. I always go to the same park and my husband knows I'm going and when to expect me back. Thankfully there's only 9 miles of trails there ( a 6 mile loop and a 3 mile loop that I almost always do in the same order) so he should be able to find me pretty quickly if something were to happen. I only ride 2 (possibly 3 this year as my 4 year old has been proving herself pretty reliable) of our horses alone which are generally the more trustworthy ones. I do wear an Apple Watch that has fall detection on it which should presumably attempt to call emergency services if it detects a fall and no motion afterwards. Obviously it's not fail safe, but it is a nice accessory to have.

My husband also rides our horses alone but always tells me when/where he's going.
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post #8 of 49 Old 02-10-2020, 11:39 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mslady254 View Post
My sister thinks like your husband, and I think like you. I've not ridden alone often, but thought nothing of it until talking with my sister about how nice my ride was. Her response was to tell me how foolish I was to ride alone...' if you fell off and were unconscious it might be hours or days until someone found you'. I did have the presence of mind to tell a friend what time I was riding out, where I was, and to raise an alarm if she didn't hear back from me in 4 hours...for a 2 hour ride. That wasn't good enough for Sister....'if you have a broken neck or a bleed, and no one looks for you until after 4 hours, you could die before they find you". Sigh.....All true, but there is risk inherent in anything we do...I could go off the road on a rural road and be in a ditch and not found for hours. I have only ridden once alone since Sister told me how FOOLISH I was, and I didn't enjoy it nearly as much,,,I kept thinking how I'd never hear the end of it from her if something happened and I lived thru it. Guess she has me spooked about it now. I did post on here pretty much like you are now, after I was told how foolish I was. Can't remember all the responses, u probably will get about the same results and I will follow this thread as well. I think the bottom line is for each of to decide if the risk is worth it, and to minimize the risk as best we can if we decide to do it....wear a helmet, have a cellphone on us , not on the saddle, tell people where and when. I dunno, Sister spooked me pretty badly.
Yeah, way to ruin someone's equilibrium hey? :) Hope you find your inner balance again! And me too.
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When I bestride him, I soar. I am a hawk: he trots the air; the earth sings when he touches it; the basest horn of his hoof is more musical than the pipe of Hermes” — Shakespeare
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post #9 of 49 Old 02-10-2020, 11:43 AM
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I prefer to ride alone for the peace and connection to nature. As an older rider, my bushwhacking days are gone, if my younger self saw my older self riding I'd be floored! I feel that the benefits to health - mental and physical - are worth the risks.

Yes, walk the path with your hubby. Be prudent, and get a feel of what your horse likes and dislikes about the trail. Some horses will run home if you fall off, some will take off to parts unknown, some will just stick with you. All these things will dictate how you go about it, but yes, it's well worth it.
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post #10 of 49 Old 02-10-2020, 11:46 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AtokaGhosthorse View Post
I've debated this a LOT lately. Not for a lack of having riding partners, but because I realllly want to see how Mr. Trigger will act in a setting where it's just him and me, away from home, with no barn, no pasture buddies, to hurry back to.


There's pros and cons to it... I am VERY close to trying it, just to see how he does.



The way he's acted lately, I think we'd do just fine, maybe better than ever. Maybe WORSE than ever if we ride up on another group, and he tries to stay with the group. I'll have a fight on my hands. I know how to deal with his spastic self these days but anything can happen.


I'd make sure I rode where I had a solid cell signal, keep my phone and a good knife on my belt, not in the saddle bags, and expect the best but be prepared for the worst and adjust accordingly. Let your spouse know when you arrive at the trail head if you haul away from home, let them know when you're about to ride out, when you take a break on the trail, when you head back to the trailer, and when you're loaded and heading home.

Well, I'm just riding on the farm where my lease horse is boarded. The trails are not extensive. I've been told it's about 45 minutes if you do the entire trail circuit. But it IS dense woods, unless I ride the edge--along the edge of the woods and hay fields. There is not much cell service out there at the farm in general, so that's why we got the walkie talkies, which are working great for communicating between the arena, barn and car. Don't know if you know, but i'm legally blind and can't drive anymore so my husband is always on property with me b/c he drives me.

I think small visits to the trail to see how the horse does and how far the walkie talkie range is would be ideal here. Ride to the trail head--callback to hubby. Ride 10 minutes in and come back--do more the next time, etc. My horse has never been on these trails either because she was new to this barn last Summer and no one was riding her then. I hand walked her on the trail in early October (when I didn't know they were closed), but only about 10 minutes in b/c of mud. That's all we've seen. And hubby was along.

When I bestride him, I soar. I am a hawk: he trots the air; the earth sings when he touches it; the basest horn of his hoof is more musical than the pipe of Hermes” — Shakespeare
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