Few things are better than a ride through mountain trails with you, your horse & maybe even some good friends. With September just a stones throw away, hunting season is about to commence.
Just as we love to take our equine friends onto the trails during this time of year – most hunters do the same.
What can equestrians and horse lovers do to protect equine companions from possible accident or harm, particularly during turnouts or trail rides?
Here are 10 tips for trail riding during hunting season
Clear markings and common-sense cautions can go a long way towards preventing hunting-related tragedies for horse lovers or their animals.
Choose safe dates for riding out.
Many stables post hunting season dates for boarders and riders to read and heed, particularly those located adjacent to open lands where hunting is common. Deer hunters’ gun season is generally considered the riskiest time for riding out. This period usually runs for about 10 days, beginning on the Saturday before Thanksgiving.
Stick to daylight.
Visibility is critical for intrepid trail riders, who may venture out with their horses during game hunting seasons. Safety-conscious equestrians avoid trails and wooded areas when visibility is low, such as on foggy days or during dawn, dusk, and evening hours.
Deck the horse in blaze orange.
From a distance, a chestnut horse may slightly resemble a deer, particularly if hunters are not paying close attention. For turnout and trail rides, blaze orange can be a lifesaver. Saddle shops and tack catalogs offer neon orange saddle pads, splint boots, polo wraps, and other equipment for horse safety during hunting seasons.
Add rhythmic noisemakers.
Plenty of horseback riders place jingly bells on their horses’ saddles, breast collars, or martingales for out-riding. This steady sound helps alert hunters of their appearance without spooking the horses. After all, Santa’s reindeer may sport bells, but wild game does not.
Dress in hunter orange.
It’s not enough to deck one’s horse in bright color for rustic rides during hunting season. Rider apparel is readily available in the same blaze orange. Safety vests, gloves, and helmet covers are popular choices.
Take a cell phone on trail rides.
A well-charged cellular phone is always a good idea on a trail ride, but particularly during hunting season.
Go in groups.
A group of horses and riders are much easier to spot than a solo pair. While out in the wild during hunting times, safety-minded equestrians can make their presence more apparent by talking to one another, or even calling out to hunters who may not have spotted them.
This may scare off a deer or two, but it may also save humans’ or horses’ lives.
Avoid hunting areas.
Galloping wildly through the woods may sound like fun, but it’s a bad idea during hunting season. Safety-conscious equestrians stick to designated bridle paths. Also, hunting is prohibited in state parks, so these are usually a fair bet.
Mark your ranch.
Occasionally, hunters may wander onto private property, such as your ranch. This may be minimized by posting “No Hunting” signs, marking fence posts with bright orange paint, and hanging safety marking ribbons along fence lines.
Turn horses out in groups.
A solo horse may face greater risk or inadvertent targeting than a grazing group, which is considerably more recognizable as equine from a distance. Bright neon halters help a lot. Some horse owners use neon vet wrap on their equines’ tails during hunting season.
The secret to hunting season safety for horses and their owners is to minimize surprises outdoors. If hunters can identify horses easily, accidental tragedies are far less likely to occur.
Stay safe friends, and make sure you keep your equine friends safe as well! See you on the trail!
Bonus: Keep your horse & even yourself fly free with our Organic Fly Spray – it’s packable, non-toxic and a great addition for any trail ride.