Rules of the Road

Originally posted on Academie Duello’s blog in June 2013

Horsemanship Level 2: Riding in Groups

Much of the last item on the Horsemanship 2 checklist

9. Rules for riding in a group

is covered in the Riding 1 post, Safety in Numbers.  At the second level however, you will also be asked about group etiquette and safety when riding outside of the ring and off property.

In general when hacking out, pick a steady horse and experienced rider to lead the group.  Another experienced rider should bring up the rear to keep an eye on everyone. Horses are herd animals and will feel much safer if the lead horse is calm and unbothered by the unpredictable enounters of the trails.  However, one panicky horse can set all the others off, so it’s best to keep the greenies and spookers near the back of the ride.

General Rules

  • Ride single file on roadsides and trails, and keep to the agreed order of file.
  • Keep approximately one horse length back from the horse in front of you
  • Ride at a walk unless everyone in the group agrees to a short trot or canter.
  • Always ride to the abilities of the least experienced rider or the greenest horse in the group.
  • Cross roads as a group, with 3-4 horses abreast
  • Stop and wait for the slowest horses in the group to catch up if necessary.
  • If one person calls a halt, the rest of the group should repeat the message till it reaches the front or back of the line.

On Roads

  • Wear bright clothing, fluorescent vests, or safety lights
  • Horses are considered vehicular traffic, and permitted to ride on roads.  However, most riders prefer the verge out of courtesy to drivers and kindness to their horse’s feet and legs.
  • Travel in the same direction as traffic if using the road.  If using the verge, pick the side of the road with the widest shoulder and best visibility.
  • The lead rider should use hand signals to indicate changes of direct and halts.  Following riders should use the same signals to indicate to cars behind them.
  • Yield to pedestrians

In Open Fields and Trails

  • Remember that horses wind each other up.  Only canter as a group if all the members are sure they have good stopping power.
  • If riding several horses abreast, keep to the pace, and don’t move ahead of that horse.
  • Warn riders behind you of hazards you spot, such as holes

This brings us to the end of the Horsemanship Level 2 series of posts.  Coming up next, Riding Level 2!

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