Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Lunchtime on the Horse Trail

At least once during our Girls’ Ride we plan an outing for an all-day ride, packing our lunches and bringing them with us in our saddlebags. Not every rider will go with us the whole way, some are content with a shorter ride, but there are a few of us who always want to spend a number of hours in the saddle.

Leather Ties on Western Saddle for Securing Saddlebags It’s always a good thing to have long ties attached to the saddle to take along everything you might need for a full day on the trail – saddlebags or cantle bags for food, water and a small first-aid kit, a raincoat, and enough length left over to tie on an extra layer of clothes, whether that means taking it off as the day goes on or putting it on if the weather cools off.

Arabian Horse with Halter Underneath Bridle One of the things we make sure to take along with us are halters and lead ropes so that we can tie the horses to trees wherever it is that we have decided to stop to eat. Some of us take their regular halters along, tying them to the saddle or putting their bridles on over the halter and tying the lead rope around their neck for the duration of the ride. This makes for a bulkier fit in regards to the bridle, so it might need to be adjusted. However, some people prefer not to have the extra trappings on their horse while on the trail.

Arabian Horse Tied on Trail with Rope Halter I prefer to take a rope halter and lead rope along in the saddlebag. When we get to our lunchtime stop, I put the rope halter on over the bridle, removing the reins, and then tie my horse to a tree. Be sure to learn how to tie a rope halter properly before taking it on the trail as the sole means of tying your horse.

When tying the lead rope to the tree, you want to make sure that you know your horse and how much length it is safe to give him – I usually tie my horse short enough that he cannot graze and get a foot over the rope, and tight enough that it won’t slip down the tree. I also tie the lead rope as I do onto a hitching rail, wrapping the rope around itself once so that if my horse pulls, the knot doesn’t tighten too much to get it readily untied.

Quarter Horse Tied on Trail with Rope Halter It’s also easy to take the bridle off the horse completely and just use the rope halter. If you have a horse which you trust to graze while being tied, this is the best option, rather than keeping the bridle on the horse. Also, if you're in a place where you can offer water to your horse, be sure to remove the bridle - as long as you're on lunch break - to allow him to take a nice, long drink and rehydrate.

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