Trail riding is a great way to challenge your horse as well as experience the great outdoors. Some trail rides can go for hours at a time, covering a great distance over varied terrain. Having the proper trail riding gear to take with you can be vital to the success of your ride.
In this article, I want to cover the supplies you should bring when preparing for a particularly long trail ride.
Tack for the Trail
The #1 quality I look for in trail riding tack is comfortability. Will this saddle, bridle, etc. be comfortable for my horse and myself even after riding for miles and hours on end?
While there are many other different pieces of tack to consider, I’m going to discuss the few pieces of tack that can be designed specifically for trail riding:
A saddle can make or break your trail ride. If you plan on doing extensive trail riding, I recommend either getting a nice western trail saddle or an endurance saddle. These saddles will better distribute weight across your horse’s back as well as be comfortable for your bottom. Here are a few of the saddles I recommend:
If you’re looking for a lightweight western trail saddle, try the Abetta Original Round Skirt Trail Saddle (link to Amazon.) Abetta is known for its well-built, durable, synthetic, and lightweight saddles. I personally have one of these saddles, and the weight is perfect for my medium-sized pony. It also happens to be very comfortable to ride in.
If you’re wondering if you can do long-distance trail riding in an English saddle, here’s my piece of advice: don’t! One time, I rode thirteen miles in a close contact English saddle. By the end of the ride, I was aching in pain, and so was my horse!
When it comes to trail riding, a good saddle pad can make your horse more comfortable. Saddle pads add extra cushion between the horse’s back and the saddle, which can be very beneficial on long rides.
The Reinsman Wool Contour Trail Saddle Pad or the more budget-friendly, Weaver Leather Contoured Single Weave Felt Pad, are great saddle pads for trail riding. They provide a thick cushion as well as material that can wick away moisture from the horse’s back.
A breast collar is a piece of tack that goes across the horse’s chest and attaches to the saddle. The purpose of the breast collar is to keep the saddle from sliding too far back on the horse’s back. This can happen a lot when trail riding when going up steep hills. (see the price for the Weaver Leather Black Breast Collar)
A crupper is a piece of tack that goes around the dock of the horse’s tail and attaches to the back of the saddle. The crupper keeps the saddle from sliding too far forward over the horse’s withers when going down steep hills. (see the Finn-Tack Crupper.)
The conformation of your horse will usually determine whether you need a breast collar, a crupper, or both. I’ve found that for some horses, it’s easier for their saddle to slide back, while for others, the saddle tends to slide forward. In order to determine which piece would be best, be observant of your tack next time you’re out on the trail.
Storage on the Trail
When it comes to storage for the trail, you want to consider the most efficient packing options and packing lists. You don’t want to put more weight on your horse than is necessary but you also don’t want to leave valuable supplies behind. Investing in quality storage bags is a must!
Saddlebags are bags used for storage for the trail. These bags attach behind the saddle and hang at the horse’s side. There is a bag on each side, which offers maximum storage. It’s a good idea to get waterproof saddlebags, like the Colorado Saddlery The Ultra Rider Saddle Bag so that all your supplies will stay dry if you get caught in the rain.
A cantle bag is a storage bag that is to be situated behind the seat of your saddle. They are usually smaller than saddlebags but still offer much-needed storage space. The TrailMax 500 Cantle Bag is a cantle bag we recommend that is found on Amazon.
Collapsible Water Bucket
When you’re on the trail, water may not always be readily available to your horse. While it’s important to let your horse stop at water crossings to get a drink, not every trail you ride will have water crossings. Taking along a collapsible water bucket, like the Esthesia Multifunctional Portable Collapsible Bucket will allow you to collect water for your horse.
A collapsible water bucket can be stored in a saddlebag and brought out as needed. Some of the trails I ride will have a picnic area with water spigots where I can fill up my collapsible bucket.
Not all horses like to drink when they’re on a trail or away from familiar property. In our article, How to Get a Horse to Drink Water: Complete Guide, I give you some proven and tested methods I’ve used in order to get my horses to drink more water.
Emergencies on the Trail
While no one wants to think of them, there will be times where you find yourself in an emergency while on the trail. Having the supplies necessary to take care of the emergency can be lifesaving. Here are some trail emergency supplies we recommend:
Equine & Human First Aid Kit
When you’re out on the trail, you can be miles from any form of emergency transport or help. Carrying a first aid kit for not only you but also your horse can allow you to give aid when no one else can.
Equine first aid kits and human first aid kits can combine many of the same items; gauze, bandages, saline solution acting as an antiseptic, tweezers, and blood stop powder. Of course, you’ll also want to include other items that are specific to each species. In terms of an equine first aid kit, I carry the Trailering Equine First Aid Medical Kit.
If you’re riding out with multiple horses and riders, I recommend having just one person carry the first aid kits, as they can take up significant storage space. If you’d like to know some common injuries you may run into, check out our article Common Horse Injuries and How to Treat Them.
I always recommend packing a hoof pick when you hit the trail. Rocks and debris can get caught in your horse’s hooves, causing them to uncomfortable. If you notice your horse starting to hobble while on the trail, the first course of action should be to pick out their hooves.
Need a hoof pick? Click here.
When I go out on the trail, I always put a rope halter on over my horse’s bridle. I tie the rope halter’s lead rope to the saddle horn, and then I don’t have to worry about it the rest of the ride.
A rope halter is great to have if you need to pony another horse, tie your horse up, or do groundwork with your horse if they start to misbehave. I was on a trail ride once when one of the horse’s bridles snapped randomly. Because the rider had put a halter over her bridle, she was able to quickly stop her horse and assess the situation.
If you want to invest in a rope halter, I recommend the Weaver Leather Rope Halter and Lead.
Extra Set of Reins
Carrying an extra set of reins can save you from a lot of stress when it comes to trail riding. I was once out on the trail when I got off of my horse to inspect something. When I did this, the horse spooked, jerked the reins out of my hands, stepped on them, and broke them. Just like that, I was left in the middle of a massive field with no way to steer my horse back towards the barn.
Another good reason to bring along an extra set of reins is that they can be used for medical emergencies. Growing up, my foxhunting club taught me that an extra set of reins can be turned into a tourniquet or a sling for your arm.
I always carry Weaver Leather Poly Roper Reins with me on the trail. These reins are easy to pack and have leather breakaway straps in case your horse gets caught on something or steps on them.
Protective Leg & Hoof Gear for the Trail
When trail riding your horse long distances, the horse’s legs and hooves take on a lot of trauma and stress. Having the proper gear to protect your horse can make sure you finish the ride with a healthy and happy partner.
Horse boots? You may have heard of horseshoes before, but never horse boots. Well, horse boots are exactly like they sound; they are boots for your horses. Unlike horseshoes, these boots are not nailed into the horse’s hooves; rather, they’re simply slipped on your horse as if they were human shoes.
If your horse is barefoot or has particularly sensitive feet, horse boots would be great for your horse while on the trail (Check out the Cavallo Trek Regular Regular Sole Hoof Boot). They offer a thick rubber sole with good grip, which is great for crossing rocky terrain or slick surfaces.
You can carry these boots in your saddlebags and stop to slip them on when you hit rough terrain. Many horse riders are starting to lean towards these horse boots rather than horseshoes because they aren’t invasive and they allow the horse to still go barefoot while adding protection.
Sports boots are form-fitting boots that wrap around your horse’s lower leg. These boots offer support to the tendons and ligaments in the lower leg, which can often turn up injured when the horse is overworked or ridden long distances. The HORZE Advanced ProTec Boot Set is a great set of sports boots to invest in if you want to get into trail riding.
Bell boots are boots that go around the pasterns and hang down over the hoof. They protect the outside hoof wall from trauma, which a horse’s hooves can come by frequently on the trail.
Protruding rocks and fallen logs can be obstacles your horse knocks their hoof against. When going up steep hills, your horse may overstep their hind leg and accidentally kick the back of their front hoof. If your horse is wearing bell boots, they will be protected from this trauma. If they aren’t, they could suffer hoof bruising and abrasions.
The Cashel No Turn Bell Boots are nicely padded bell boots you can use for trail riding. Their synthetic material makes them durable and easy to clean.
Safety on the Trail
There are items you can bring along on a trail ride that will give you, overall, a safer experience. Why put yourself at risk when you can bring along the right supplies and stay safe? here’s our list of items we recommend:
Picket Line & Ties
A picket line is a wire that you string between two trees. From there, you can tie your horses to it while you take a break from the trail. It ensures security for your horses while you take a rest.
Picket lines are great for long trail rides. If you plan on stopping for lunch on the trail or even setting up camp for the night, you’ll want to bring a picket line with you. Picket lines are easy to set up and can usually be packed down to fit in a saddlebag.
If you’re looking for the perfect picket line set up, check out the Tough-1 Picket Line Kit on Amazon. This kit includes the picket wire, the hooks so you can tie your horse off, and instructions!
No matter what the weather forecast looks like for your trail riding day, always bring a rain jacket. There have been many times when the forecast has looked clear but I go out for a ride just to get caught in bad weather. While a rain jacket may take up some extra space in your saddlebags, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
The Carhartt Women’s Shoreline Jacket (see price) is a heavy-duty jacket that will keep you dry while out on your ride. Carhartt is known to be tough; every piece of clothing I’ve ever bought from the brand has done its job of protecting me against the weather as well as lasting a good long time.
Depending on where you are going trail riding, you may need to pack a reflective vest. These reflective vests can make you visible to passers-by and vehicles if you’re riding near a road. These vests can also make you known out on the trails if it’s hunting season or there are other trail users in the area.
The 247 Viz Blaze – Reflective Vest 360 is a reflective vest that’s easy to pack in your saddlebag yet very effective at making you seen.
I was once told by an old huntmaster that I should always carry wire cutters with me whenever I go out on a trail. He told me that he was able to save his horse from barbed wire once simply because he had a set of wire cutters on him.
On the trail, you can come across many hazards, wire and barbed wire being one of them. These wires are particularly dangerous since they usually lay across the ground covered by leaves and debris. You and your horse may not notice the wire until you’re right above it.
Make sure you choose a pair of wire cutters that can cut thick barbed wire if need be, like the KNIPEX Tools Cutters, since this is the type of wire you will most likely run into the most.
If there’s one thing I can tell you about going on trail rides is that my lower back will be hurting by the end! This is something that most horseback riders struggle with, even without going on a long trail ride. Investing in a back brace can give you the support your back needs to stay comfortable throughout your ride.
The Lower Back Brace Lumbar Posture Corrector is a back brace I recommend. It offers good support for your lower back, even when horseback riding.
I hope this article was able to help you find some trail riding products that you were looking for. Before you hit the trail, check out our article, 16 Horse Trail Riding Tips: Ultimate Guide!