Some horse trail riding tips and useful items to carry

If you’re going on a trail ride or a weekend camp out, horseback riding is supposed to be fun, but sometimes emergencies happen!  Be better prepared by having some of these items in your back pack or saddlebag.

Some items are a given, such as water, freeze it and it’ll provide hours of cold water.  Even if it looks like it won’t rain, make sure you have adequate protection like a rain coat or poncho, nothing worse than getting caught in a rain shower, being wet and cold and having a few kilo’s left to get to where you can get warmed up again…

Also take some food or high energy bars, racefood or Travelfood, nuts and dried fruits etc. 

Just as important is a few first-aid items. Anything from a roll of self-adhesive plaster and few dispirins to a full first aid med kit.  Put together a first-aid kit you can take with you anytime you go on a longer ride and you won’t have to keep remembering to pack plasters etc… put them all in a red grab-and-go bag and if you do use something on a ride, remeber to replace.  Also make sure items that can expire are replaced when needed.

Other items that can come in handy on a trail ride, remember emergencies happen!

Cell phones and external battery pack for charging, you know cell phones die when you least expect them to…

Sharp knife or multi tool, comes in handy in many situations, carry it with you in case you somehow get separated from your horse and gear that’s in the saddlebags.

Duct tape and baling twine, can be used in an emergency to repair tack or to protect a hoof after your horse looses a shoe…, baling twine has almost as many uses as duct tape!

A GPS is quite handy on a trail ride, you just never know when you’ll get lost and in an emergency can be really useful to pinpoint exactly where you are.

Toilet paper… Not just for you know what, can be used for search-and-rescue groups as it can be seen from the air or surrounding hilltops.

A torch or a headlamp, the latter leaves your hands free to do whatever needs doing when it’s dark.

Either a lighter or waterproof matches and some paper, in case you need to make a fire in an emergency.

An emergency or survival blanket.  These lightweight blankets are designed to reflect body heat back to the body. Normally made from aluminised non-stretch polyester and are completely windproof and waterproof, in an emergency this blanket is literally a lifesaver.  They’re cheap too, usually under R 50.00.

Plastic shopping bags weigh almost nothing, and have lots of uses, such as keeping your boots dry during an unexpected thunder shower, can be used for to carry water or to make a quick bandage cover.

If your local tack shop doesn’t keep some items, a great place to get emergency supplies are places such as Cape Union Mart, there are easily 90 dotted around South Africa and they offer online sales!

Not sure what else to pack?  Do a Google search for camping list, camping recipes, horse trails or outdoor survival.

If you’re going on a longer trail ride try avoid riding alone. If anything happens to you or your horse, there’s no-one to help you or go for help.


Some don’ts to remember:

Don’t ride with a tiedown, this can prevent the horse from saving itself during a fall since it won’t have full use of it’s neck for balance.

Don’t lead your horse over an obstacle, he could knock you down and trample you if he jumped to follow you.

Don’t dismount on the downhill side of a steep trail, if your horse slips he could fall on you.

Don’t cut new paths on an established trail, ride single-file, you can spread out in an open area where you can’t see noticeable trails.


Do remember to clean up after yourself, carry a litter bag, you could even pickup litter you see left by other people…


Ride safe, think about what you’re doing and where you’re riding and above all have fun and return safely! 


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We would like to know how we can help equestrian sport and activities in South Africa, if you have any questions or suggestions, let us know.