Tri-Valley Trailblazers' Ride Safety Policy and Rules
Adopted March 3, 1999
(Amended May 7, 2008)
This safety policy and rules must be adhered to at all Club functions that involve horses including but not exclusive to: trail rides, overnight rides, parades, clinics, shows and "playdays." Any negligence in complying with these regulations will constitute sufficient cause for immediate expulsion from the function and may be cause for expulsion from the Club.
(From the Bylaws, Section II, as amended May 7, 2008)
The following 10 regulations may be supplemented, but not deleted, without an official Bylaws addendum:
1. Guests at designated guest functions* must be invited and accompanied at all times by a member in good standing. This member is responsible for their guest in every way and shall not pass that responsibility onto other members. Furthermore, guests must be given the Club's list of safety rules and must sign a dated liability release form. These documents may be obtained from the Trail Master, Membership Chairman or Club president before the function. It is the responsibility of the host** member to acquire the necessary signatures and return the documents to the Trail master.
* Guest functions shall be those functions designated and announced to be open to guests in accordance with the Club's insurance policy.
** A host member is the member who invited the guest.
2. No riding under the influence of alcohol. No open alcoholic beverage containers while horses are being handled. Check with the Trail Boss regarding whether site rules allow alcohol.
3. All riders shall be responsible for the behavior and condition of their horses. Riders must maintain continual control of their horse, especially of those 'green' or those unaccustomed to normal trail related activities. If the behavior or condition is objectionable the Trail Boss or chairman of the event has the right to prohibit the horse/rider from participating in the event.
4. Except under special circumstances and with the Trail Boss approval, no riding bareback or riding with halter as only control.
5. Riders must use appropriate riding footwear, i.e., no sandals, no bare feet. Members under the age of 18 are required to wear helmets on all club rides and events. Use of helmets is strongly recommended at all times for all riders. Helmets may be required on certain events or ride. The Trail Boss or event chair will communicate in advance when wearing a helmet is a requirement.
6. Trail Bosses must have trail riding experience and should be familiar with trails to be ridden.
7. All riders in the Club riding functions, members and guests, must have some riding experience.
8. If the Club's insurance policy does not restrict Stallions in Club events, then the Trail Boss or committee chairman must notify the participants and it's presence be acceptable.
9. Members under the age of 16 must be accompanied by a member in good standing on all rides.
10. No ponying of horses is allowed with the group of riders on any official trail ride.
Additional Trail Safety Policy, Rules and Guidance:
1. ALWAYS call the Trail Boss to R.s.v.p. Make sure you confirm that you are going as early as you can. If you have to cancel, call the Trail Boss.
2. The Trail Boss leads the group, unless he or she designates someone else to be in the front. Don’t go ahead of the group or the Trail Boss without permission.
3. If you want to ride faster, never just take off – ask permission from the Trail Boss. If you are given permission to ride ahead, wait until you are out of the line of sight to go faster, if possible, and wait at the next intersection for the group to catch up so you do not get lost.
4. Never canter or trot fast up a hill when riding with a group, unless the entire group has agreed to do so. You may frantically upset horses behind you and create a dangerous or uncontrollable situation for yourself and others.
5. Don’t pass another rider without calling for the trail or telling them you are 'coming by on the right' or 'left'. Keep at least one horse length between horses on the trail, especially on single track. ALWAYS keep at least one full horselength between horses when going up or down hill, preferably more.
6. If a rider dismounts, wait until they are back in the saddle before riding off. If you don’t, they may not be able to mount – this is especially important when opening and closing gates.
7. Attempt to ride on the uphill side of trails whenever possible, especially if there are blind corners. If a biker, hiker or another rider surprises your horse it is easier to avoid an accident.
8. Make verbal contact with other trail users to alert them that you are approaching. Watch for a response. Be very courteous and careful when passing bicycles and hikers. The fact that horses have the right of way on trails does not give riders the right to "blow by" other trail users. Always slow down to a walk when approaching and passing anyone on the trail. Be pleasant to them – that hiker may be able to influence whether or not horses will be allowed on the trails.
9. If your horse is unruly, continues to jig, is upset, or just can’t be calm with other horses consider moving to the back so you do not distract the horses behind you, or consider getting a partner and splitting off to give both you and the rest of the group a more pleasant, safer ride. Be sure and notify the Trail Boss before you split from the group.
10. If your horse kicks put a red ribbon in it’s tail, and tell people. No one wants an injury due to a kicking horse. You may want to consider riding in the back if your horse is a continual threat to other riders or horses.
11. Use hand signals while riding to notify riders behind you that you are stopping. Horses don’t have brake lights and it’s hard to hear someone when they are talking facing forward in front of you.
12. Don’t dip sponges in water troughs. Besides being a health risk horses won't drink salty water. Use plastic scoops to cool your horse.
13. Carry a halter and lead rope with you on the trail.
14. Stay on the designated trail at all times!
15. Always tie only to sturdy objects. At fences tie only to upright posts, never to cross pieces. Never tie your horse to someone else's rig without permission in advance.
16. Never go any faster than the slowest rider is comfortable going in your group at any given time. The Trail Boss will determine transitions to faster speeds only when all riders have agreed.
17. You must be responsible to reasonably judge the level of your horse's fitness and conditioning level. Keep your horse's safety and wellbeing in mind at all times. Do not attempt a ride that requires a better level of conditioning than you or your horse has. Take into consideration distance of ride, muscular and aerobic fitness for hills or mountains, and heat tolerance. Check with the Trail Boss before the ride if you have any concerns. Arrangements will be made for a second shorter less difficult ride when possible for less conditioned horses.
18. Always carry out everything you brought in.
19. Practice responsible trail and park stewardship at all times. Do not ride on trails which are in poor condition (such as deep mud) which may result in your horse's hooves causing permanent trail indentation/damage, or which may endanger the soundness of your horse.
20. It is recommended, though it is not a rule, that you carry a first aid kit, both for yourself and for your horse, a hoof pick, drinking water, and a sharp knife (preferably a leatherman type tool).
Trailblazer's Courtesy Guidelines
Getting to the Ride:
1. Meet on time. Have gas, oil, food all taken care of BEFORE you join the caravan.
2. Caravan leaders need to make sure everyone knows where they are going BEFORE everyone leaves. Maps are highly recommended. Don’t assume you can just “follow” the rig in front of you. Leaders need to set an easy pace everyone can keep up with. If people get separated the leader needs to find a safe place to pull off and wait. Citizen Band radios are highly encouraged – the Trailblazer CB channel is 7. The signal for trouble is flashing headlights.
3. If you are getting a ride in someone else’s trailer offer to pay for some of the gas. Bring your own hay and grain. Offer to help clean out the trailer at the end of the trip. Bring your own stuff: don’t assume you can use the driver’s brushes, blankets, etc. Offer to bring lunch or snacks for your driver. Be ready on time! Make sure you know how your horse loads and unloads. Be sure to communicate with the driver when loading and unloading as to when the horse's head is tied or untied before opening the back door. Send the driver on their way if your horse won’t get into a strange trailer after a reasonable amount of time.
Arriving at the Staging Area or Ride Camp:
1. PARKING: Be sure to leave plenty of room between rigs so that horses can't kick each other, and if camping, don't park near someone's campsite with your rig unless you talk it over with them first.
2. Try not to put your horse where dust will fly all over someone’s camp.
3. Always pick up after yourself. It is recommended to bring your own shovel, rake or apple picker to clean up messes from loading in and out of trailers.
4. Overnight Camping: Tying to your trailer is not a problem, but the use of portable corrals, hot wire, or picket lines may not necessarily be allowed. Make sure the camp allows them before you set them up. Always be aware of and abide by the camp's rules. If you are unsure of overnight safety tying please ask someone more experienced for help.
5. A lead line that reaches the ground is unsafe and too long, whether attached to a trailer or tied to a picket line.
6. Pay attention to the “bonded horse” situation. If you think a horse is bonded to yours tell the owner before you walk away with your horse.
7. If you snore in your sleep, do everyone a favor and park somewhere where you won't keep everyone else awake!
Before you ride out:
1. Be on time! If the Trail Boss wants to ride out at 10, be ready at 10!
2. Attend the pre-ride briefing held by the Trail Boss.
Before you leave for home:
Leave your area at least as clean as you found it. Clean up your manure and hay before you leave. Dispose of it in the appropriate manner, depending on the park or camp (Bag it, spread it, put it in garbage can, as appropriate).
Trailblazer's Trail Boss Guidelines
1. Advertise pertinent ride information in the newsletter and indicate an R.s.v.p. deadline in a timely manner. Advertise clear directions to the ride, or provide a map whenever possible in the newsletter. For overnight events, when possible give members the phone number of the camp so that they can be reached in an emergency.
2. Pre-ride the trail when possible. Assure the trail is safe above all else. Assure adequate parking.
3. Try to arrange a meeting place and time for a caravan for rides that are not local, and designate a caravan leader.
4. Notify riders if they need to bring their own water, if horses need to be shod, or any other special information. Notify them in advance of park or camp rules, such as no dogs, no portable corrals, etc. Give riders as much information about the ride in advance as possible. Obtain trail maps for all riders when possible.
5. The Trail Boss must be responsible to contact all R.s.v.p.'d riders if a ride is cancelled or postponed, or if anything changes.
6. The Trail Boss should hold a pre-ride meeting at the staging area to go over the route, the expected speed, the distance, where lunch will be, etc. After designating a leader for the second group the Trail Boss will split the ride into two or more groups if appropriate, based on level of ability, preferred speed and distance.
7. The Trail Boss should designate a drag rider when there are larger groups. The drag rider should be responsible to yell ahead when there is a problem, and keep an eye on safety of riders ahead whom the Trail Boss cannot see.
8. Never go any faster than the slowest rider is comfortable going in your group. Once everyone in the group has agreed to trot or canter, the Trail Boss must signal when making transitions.
9. The Trail Boss must maintain awareness if some of the riders are lagging behind due to a slower pace, and must be responsible to slow the pace if others are jigging or trotting to keep up. If others are simply dawdling, the Trail Boss must stop and wait periodically and at all intersections to assure the rider don't separate too much or take a wrong turn.
10. The Trail Boss should be responsible to check that riders have safely secured their horses for overnights, checking for potential safety hazards such as picket line height, lead rope length, etc.
11. The Trail Boss should ascertain that riders are following Trailblazer rules and be responsible to notify anyone not complying, and require correction or dismissal from the ride as appropriate.
12. The Trail Boss or a designee should carry a first aid kit.
13. The Trail Boss is responsible to assure all riders pass safely through gates. The Trail Boss may designate a willing rider to open and close gates when needed, or may do so him/herself.
14. The Trail Boss should assure that safety of the trail at all times, and should use good judgement in assessing potentially hazardous trail conditions which may require dismounting and walking horses.
15. The Trail Boss should check that the staging/camping area is left clean before exiting.