Sharing the Trail: Protect Our Horseback Riding Privileges on Public Land

Sometimes you have to envy the explorers of the Old West. They wandered the untamed wilderness with only their trusty horses for company and pretty much had the place to themselves. That’s not so anymore.

It can get pretty cozy when trails are shared among horseback riders, hikers, bikers, motorcyclists and backpackers. And crowding can lead to friction. But with some horse sense, there can be harmony among the admirers of our scenic byways.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind when on the trails:

On the trail

  • Greet approaching bikers or hikers. Communicating with other trail users upon encountering them encourages courteous behavior. Asking them to yield to horses is an important safety issue.
  • Stick to durable surfaces and resist the temptation to take shortcuts on switchbacks.

In camp

  • Choose eco-friendly campsites. Locate your camp at least 100 feet from waterways and wetlands, and well away from trails and other campers. Choose sites in the trees, when possible, and in places that are not intrusive to other campers.
  • If you ?camp? in your horse trailer?s living quarters, run your generator as little as possible. Noise pollutes, too.
  • If you pack it in, pack it out. Trash spoils any outdoor experience.
  • Minimize the use and impact of campfires.
  • Spread manure. You might not mind the smell of horse manure, but your fellow trail users do. Manure disintegrates in a matter of days. Spreading the manure before heading to the next site will help minimize signs of your visit.
  • Move campsites often. Although grazing actually benefits the health of most pastures, an overgrazed camp is an eyesore. Moving horses to new pasture on a daily basis helps minimize the impact.
  • In fragile, high-mountain areas or where grasses are scarce, pack concentrated hay/grain pellets. If you take hay, make sure it has been certified weed free so you don’t contaminate the backcountry with noxious weeds.
  • Don?t tie horses to trees; use picket lines, high lines or hobbles, or make a corral using portable electric fencing.
  • Leave the site as you found it, or borrow a popular Sierra Club saying, ?Take only pictures, leave only footprints.?

From America’s Horse Daily and AQHA.

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