Don’t Daydream on the Trail!

Trail Riding

So you’re out on a trail ride…enjoying the cool breeze…watching the light and shadows play on the trees…listening to the soft hoof beats…feeling your horse spook out from under you as a deer crashes out of the woods ahead—wait, what just happened?

It can be easy to start daydreaming while riding out on the trail, but that’s probably not the best idea. And while you absolutely should enjoy the view and tranquility of a great trail ride, for your own safety it’s always important to stay alert and focused when riding as well. It may sound cliché, but expecting the unexpected can help keep your trail ride safe—and that will keep it fun.

I was trail riding a green-ish young horse once, and at one point a portion of the trail came within about one hundred feet or so of a quiet rural road. Usually it was a fine place to ride, with not much traffic—a good place to bring horses that were still learning the ropes. On this particular afternoon, however, I heard a car approaching and I turned to see who it was. Good thing, too, as I recognized the car as belonging to a “non-horsey” acquaintance of mine—one who had a habit of “beeping” hello when they saw me out and about. I pulled my horse to a halt and waited, whispering “it’s okay,” and then, sure enough, the person in the car hit the horn and blasted a “beep beep!” greeting. It was meant as a friendly gesture, but, as I anticipated, the noise spooked my horse and she quickly jumped forward. It turned out to be no big deal, but if I hadn’t been paying close attention to my surroundings, I might’ve been taken by surprise and found myself on the ground.

On another ride, a different horse and I were casually working on our way down a winding trail. When we came around a bend, we saw that a small group of three geese had landed in the trail, only about twenty or thirty feet ahead. Within moments, the geese exploded into a noisy flight of honking and flapping feathers. My horse spooked a little bit, but again, being mentally prepared for the unexpected came in handy and prevented a small issue from becoming a larger one.

Situations similar to these can happen to any horse and rider. Even horses that have been around a long time and “seen it all” can still be spooked if the situation is different or surprising enough. So always be on the lookout for the unexpected—ATVs on your trail, other riders being noisy, changing weather, and even wildlife. But that’s part of the adventure of the ride, right? Besides, these are the things that can lead to trail ride campfire stories for years to come…”Remember when that buck crossed the trail in front of us? He was so big!”

What unexpected events or animals have you come across on trail rides?


  1. Was merrily moseying along, on my Morgan Horse, with friends on a lovely afternoon ride, when all of a sudden, to our left was a beautiful big black bear standing on it’s hind legs. Very majestic. We thought, OK just continue on and all will be fine. Then we noticed a big beautiful deer with huge antlers standing stock still, a few hundered feet in front of it. It was amazing and soooo beautiful. This was the ONE time I did not have my camera with me. I was so annoyed. But that picture is embedded into my mind for the rest of my life. When passing that area, I still look in that direction hoping for a rerun 🙂


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