3 Trail Riding Challenges

Group Trail

No matter how well-prepared you are for a group trail ride, certain challenging situations can occur. The following tips will help you best prepare for them.

  1. Injury.
    Injury of either horse or rider is a possibility on any ride. By bringing a first-aid kit along in your saddlebag, you’ll have supplies ready should something happen. Also take a fully charged cellphone so you can call emergency services if necessary. Although dealing with a horse or human emergency is the ultimate responsibility of the ride manager (if there is one), do whatever you can to help.
  2. Water refusals.
    Your horse may be great at crossing the familiar creek near your house, but he could feel differently about the large puddle or river on your group ride. If he absolutely refuses to cross, don’t panic. This is something that often comes up on group rides. Carry a halter and lead rope in your saddlebag or keep them tied to your saddle. First, try to buddy up with another horse that is willing to cross the water. If that doesn’t work, allow someone to pony your horse across the water.
  3. Anxious horse.
    No matter how much you prepare your horse, there’s always the possibility that the experience will be more than he can handle. If you find yourself on a nervous horse that just won’t calm down, try to find him a relaxed, easygoing horse to ride with. While the other horse’s calm demeanor may not quiet your horse completely, the relaxed energy may keep him from getting even more worked up.

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This article originally appeared in the August 2014 issue of Horse Illustrated magazine. Click here to subscribe!


  1. Ponying a horse across a water crossing does not always work. I’ve been in that situation, myself, with horses that refuse to cross. I’ve tried ponying, and the horse just pulls back and refuses to go forward. You also risk the chance of the horse leaping forward and landing on top of you.

  2. Great tips but I’ve run across those water troubles too. Just because the other horses aren’t afraid of the water doesn’t mean it’s safe!


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