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Ionia Horse Trails Association 

To Preserve and Protect
The first State Park in Lower Michigan to have corrals for your horses!!

Do you have good trail etiquette??

So what is good trail etiquette? Basically it's common sense and respecting others. For instance, if you’re riding in a group, only ride as fast as the least experienced rider. Don’t leave another rider alone so you can trot or gallop ahead. His horse might get upset and race after you. If someone has to dismount for any reason, stand still until he is back in the saddle. This also applies if someone drops a rein or has to stop for any reason, stay with him. Don't go walking off.

Never trot or canter up behind other riders. Slow to a walk and ask to pass. Wait until they acknowledge you, and then give them plenty of room since you don't know if their horses will kick or get upset. Some riders like to turn their horses to face horses coming from behind. If your horse kicks, tie a red ribbon in his tail as a warning. Don't be a trail hog. If you're riding next to a friend, drop back to single file and let others pass. Don't force them off the trail. When riding on narrow winding trails, listen for approaching riders and call to them, then look for a wider place to pass. In some cases you might have to back-up to a wider area. If you decide to pony or lead another horse, keep him on a short lead, especially when other horses pass. Don't let him swing his rump around or block the trail. When exercising a youngster, don't let it run loose. Just because your horse doesn't mind a cute youngster running around kicking at him, it doesn't mean other horses will be okay with it. Keep youngsters on a lead and under control. This applies to dogs also as not all horses like dogs.

When you come upon an obstacle on the trail, give the rider ahead plenty of time to get through it. Don't run up on his rump. When crossing water or a bridge, depending on the width of the crossing, wait until the horse ahead of you is at least halfway through before you start across. The same with going up or downhill, give other riders time to get clear. If the horse ahead of you is leery of crossing, ask the rider first if he wants your help. Don't just charge in. It often helps when traveling with a youngster or spookier horse, to keep it next to or just behind a more seasoned horse. This applies to novice riders also.

Keep going after crossing a tight or uneven spot on the trail, don't stop. Just because you are clear or on level ground doesn't mean the riders behind you are. Make sure everyone is on safe ground before stopping. Whether riding in the arena, on the trail, or just standing around, keep some distance between your horse and others, even stablemates. Don't let your horse sniff at or rub his head on other horses or riders. While this looks cute, riders have been knocked from the saddle by a horse's friendly head rub or the horse has gotten caught in the reins or on the bridle.

While practicing good etiquette is essential for safe trail riding, there are a few other things you can do to ensure a safe ride. Always tell someone where you are going and how long you expect to be gone. Don't ask your horse to do something it's not capable of, like climbing up or down an extremely steep hill. If the terrain becomes too rough, turn back. Stay on the trail. Don't go blazing new trails, especially on switchbacks. Be aware of your environment. Don't get to chatting with your friends and forget you’re riding. Many accidents happen at the walk because the rider wasn't paying attention to where his horse was going or what he was seeing. Horses are great radar systems and through their body language, especially their ears, they can tell you if something is wrong. You just need to listen.

Always carry some form of identification with an emergency contact number. A good place for this is in the brim of your riding helmet so you always have it. Some riders even attach tags to their bridle with their phone number in case their horse gets loose. Trail riding is a fun and challenging equestrian activity. It can also be a very dangerous one. But you and your horse can share years of enjoyment if you just follow a few simple rules and exercise good judgment.

Do you have good horse camp etiquette??

Horse Camp Etiquette is just as important as beach, trail or group etiquette. One reason we go camping is to enjoy the peace of the great outdoors; to relieve our stress, to unwind. When you are in camp you will have neighbors, and as any good neighbor knows, it takes a good neighbor to be a good neighbor. Sound redundant? Yes - and for many important reasons. For example, a loose and/or barking dog is very disturbing as are unruly children. Make sure your children are aware of camp rules and etiquette. Never let your child approach animals on another’s campsite without the owner’s permission. Courtesy and communication are key elements while in camp and will insure peaceful relations and pleasant camping for all.

Horse camp etiquette requires that you park your horse trailer and other vehicles in designated areas only. Day users are also asked to park in segregated areas to not conflict with campers. Always be sure to leave loading ramp areas open and clear. Motorized vehicles like ATVs, dirt bikes etc. are not compatible, and even potentially dangerous around livestock. Use the facilities such as picket lines provided for securing and feeding of your animals. Hobble a pawing horse and use tree savers when securing to trees.

THINK SAFETY, horse camp etiquette advises that you walk your horse in the campground and in congested areas. Dogs are to be kept under control or on restraint at all times. Please keep them quiet so as not to disturb other campers and do not allow your dog to wander into other campsites without invitation. Keep animals out of group areas and away from potable water hydrants. Park rules tell us not to water or wash at a potable water hydrant. For sanitary reasons carry the water to a more suitable location for use.

Forestry rules tell us to keep your livestock at least 200 feet from streams or lakes while camping. Most areas do not allow your stock to wade in the water; the exception being water crossings on the trail. Keep your camp clean! Some places provide facilities for the placement of manure, unused feed or hay. Take good advantage of this provision. No one likes to clean house before moving in. Carry a rake, pitchfork, and/or shovel and use them. If no facility is provided to leave manure you must pack it back home. And last but not least:

*~* CHECK CAMP RULES AND ABIDE BY THEM. *~*