Click the link to read the April 2012 Trail Riding Guide Online - Trail Riding Guide
Below, you can find two features from the 2nd annual Trail Riding Issue!
What to Bring On A Trail Ride/Camping Trip
by Anna Arnold, Romoland, Calif., firstname.lastname@example.org
photo: Monica Sievert, Anna Arnold, Debbie Humphreys and Nancy Roberts in Arizona at the Happy Hoofers trail ride
When talking about trail riding it is a good time to think of what we may need when we go away from camp or home. I keep a number of things in my saddle and cantle bag. In my cantle bag I keep a horse first-aid kit, pressure bandage, duct tape, small rope, bug spray and meat tenderizer, which works great on stings. Also, for the ladies a napkin works well for a bandage, or can be used with duct tape to put on a hoof that may have lost a shoe (it also has other uses).
In my saddle bags I have a light weight parka (good for rain or wind), flashlight, matches and water. I try to keep these in my trailer and check my tack for wear on my leathers on my saddle and bridle. Taking the small rope can be used for many uses…curb strap, reins or lead.
I keep a sharp knife in my pocket, even at home; you never know when you will need it. I also carry one in my purse, along with a small screwdriver. I could win a prize with what I keep in my purse. When we go out as a group and I know we will be out for some time I have an emergency asthma machine that runs off a battery, and it’s always with me, as is my epee pen. If you need meds, be sure you have some with you, not only in your saddle bag, but in your pocket.
When hauling, I leave the windows down in the trailer, they have a guard so the mules can’t get their heads out, but things can fly in. So, it’s not a bad idea to haul with fly masks on your animals. I have windows that I can offer them water if I am hauling a long distance. I will haul straight through if it is less than six hours. When I have a long haul I stop for the night, let my mule out and feed and water her outside. She stays out until I am ready to go to bed and I put her back in the trailer if there are no corrals. She and I rest much better that way; otherwise, I check on her during the night. I have not had any long hauls with Ditto, so this will have to be tried as she does like to move around in the trailer when hauling. Ciera has over 200,000 miles in the trailer and thinks it’s her home.
Look for me on the trail or in the show ring; I’m the Granny wearing a big hat and riding a fine mule.
Trail Riding Tips
by Max Harsha, Cliff, N.M.
Author of the Mule Skinner's Bible
The weather is getting nice, and people are getting ready to head out on the trails. Here are a few things to take into consideration before you go trail riding:
If your mule has been standing around this winter now is a good time to get him out and take the edge off him before you go riding with a group.
If your mule is new to trail riding you should get him so you can control him.
What do you do if for some reason you get behind your group? Over the years I have received several calls asking if my Harsha mule bit would give the control needed when the mule gets behind the crowd. Getting behind may be because you wanted to stop and tighten your cinch, or stop to tie your jacket behind the saddle, or reasons like this. When you get back on the trail you may find yourself way behind, and your mule may want to run to catch up. Maybe you aren’t that good of a rider to take this wild ride, as you don’t have enough control over your mule. Yes, the Harsha bit will give you more control, but you need to use it before you go out on the trail so your mule knows you are in control. You also need to have confidence that the bit will do the job, because if you are not confident you will have an apprehensive feeling that the mule recognizes, making him nervous also.
On the other hand, if you have been using the Harsha bit you know you are in control and don’t think for one minute that the mule doesn’t recognize this also. So, in a sense it does you as much good as it does the mule. A positive attitude is a big thing around mules.
If you have a mule that has a tendency to want to kick at another mule or horse getting too close behind you, you might consider tying a red ribbon around the top of your mule’s tail. This is a warning that your mule doesn’t like something following too closely.
If you need to stop and get off on the trail for some reason it is nice to have a friend stop with you, so when you remount you and your mule will not be alone.
If you are riding alone, or in the front of the group, you should have a mule that is used to being exposed to different things, such as a burnt stump, which would be black. For some reason most mules will think this is a really bad object and will spook the mule. Again, you need to be in control of your mule.
To get the mule used to something like the stump I recommend you take a black plastic leaf sack and fill it with straw and hang it by the water trough. You may also want to take another black sack and fill it with tin cans, and tie it where the wind can blow it around in order for your mule to get used to an object in motion.
I have mentioned things like this before, but we have new mule people joining us all the time, so all Ole Man Harsha is trying to do is keep you safe and out of a wreck.Take care, and don’t overfeed your mule, as you are only fighting the feed sack if you do.