With the days starting to get drier and warmer, there’s no better place to saddle up and start hacking than at your local bridleway. Spring is a great time to get back to nature and start exploring the countryside as well as letting off some steam with a good gallop, and with fantastic bridleways all over the country you don’t even need to stick close to home.
It is important that you and your horse, as well as other users of the bridleways, feel safe and happy when out and about, so here at Bridleway we have put together our top tips to help you overcome any worries and hit the trails with confidence.
Know the rules
Before you set off, it is important to know the rules of your local bridleway to keep you and your four-legged friend safe. Don’t forget that dog walkers, ramblers, and cyclists are also welcome to use bridleways and you also have a duty to ensure other people can enjoy the route.
It can be confusing to know where you are allowed to ride, particularly when it comes to common land and footpaths, but the British Horse Society website is on hand to help. Check where you can ride by visiting their website.
Be safe, be seen
An easy way to help keep everyone safe is to make sure you and your horse are highly visible to all other users. You wouldn’t ride out on the main roads without wearing your high-vis gear and being out in the countryside is no exception.
Adding fluorescent gear to your horse is easy too, put on reflective leg wraps, a tail guard or a bright exercise sheet to ensure other road and bridleway users will easily spot you coming.
It’s important to be as prepared as possible as you may meet new challenges on the way such as loud farm machinery, unexpected noises and the possibility of changing weather.
You can help prepare your horse for every eventuality by setting out a simple obstacle course in a familiar setting such as a paddock or riding arena. Putting up flags, laying out a sheet of tarpaulin for your horse to walk across and setting out unusual objects such as straw bales and wheelbarrows will help your horse get used to the surroundings that they may encounter.
Once you feel fully ready to tackle some new surroundings, you could look into branching out to your neighbouring bridleways or even booking a whole day out riding with your local riding school. This is a great way to socialise as well as get out in the countryside and enjoy some quality time. Some riding schools offer these on a monthly basis and with add-ons like a pub lunch, so it’s worth finding out what your local area can offer.
Visit http://www.bridleways.co.uk/ to find your nearest bridleway and see how far your next adventure can take you.
If you’re really keen on hacking out and discovering new places to ride, you can even book a horse riding holiday abroad.
For an all-American riding holiday, you can head out to the Wild West for the ultimate ranch experience and learn to ride the western way. Alternatively, head over to Norway with its glacial landscape and take in the beautiful scenery by heading out onto Norway’s hidden riding routes on a native Icelandic horse.