Horse Riding in the Time of Covid-19
The TrailMeister community of equine trail riders and horse campers is important. During these uncertain and trying times, we want to help take care of our community and the values that we hold dear.
As the world’s largest guide to horse friendly trails and camps, we know the value of getting outside with our equine friends. Additionally, we understand that the physical and mental benefits of being outdoors is vital right now.
But in order to protect our community and ourselves, it’s important to be careful about when and how we choose to leave our homes.
With that in mind, here are some suggestions to help you enjoy the trails responsibly. The situation is changing quickly, and we will try to update this page as best practices for public health evolve. (Some of these recommendations might change under a shelter-in-place order.)
CHOOSING WHERE TO GO: PRACTICE SOCIAL DISTANCING
Fresh air and outside time is critical for all of us, especially right now. But please take a community-centered approach to your outdoor time and check current guidelines and local restriction orders before getting outside. www.TrailMeister.com includes a link to the land manager on every area listed.
In the coming days, agencies may change their recommendations. For now, consider the following:
Try to stay local. Find trails near your home. (Here’s the guide https://www.trailmeister.com/trails/)- Help keep our neighbors safer by sticking close to home, especially if you are near a major population center in the middle of an outbreak.
- Try lesser-traveled trails. Avoid trails where the main attraction is a viewpoint or other area that would serve as a likely gathering point for many people.
- Some areas may not be big enough to safely accommodate extra visitors at peak times. Visit in off hours or take a ride around your property instead. If we want to continue to have access to parks, it’s important that crowds not gather.
GETTING OUTSIDE SAFELY & RESPONSIBLY
Before you leave the barn
- Verify that the area you are going to is open. Most parks and green spaces are still open. Some other lands and facilities have already closed. (Again, https://www.trailmeister.com/trails/ includes a link to the land manager on every area listed.)
- Plan on any ranger stations, park buildings, restrooms and facilities to be closed.
- Practice social distancing on the drive to the trailhead. This is not the time for carpooling.
- Try to ride with people you are already in physical contact with, such as your family. This is not the best time to meet up with new friends
- Think ahead about what you’ll need so you won’t have to stop for supplies.While we often encourage riders to shop local and contribute to the recreation economy in rural communities, doing so right now could deplete the resources of these smaller communities. Fuel up before you go, bring all the food you need and be prepared to follow Leave No Trace Principles, including properly dealing with human waste (remember, restrooms may be closed).
- Have a backup plan in mind. If you arrive at a park or trailhead and things look crowded, come back later or try someplace new rather than put each other at risk.
- Finally, if you’re sick, please stay home and take care of yourself. Know that by staying home, you’re protecting others and contributing to the fight to flatten the curve.
On trail: give each other at least 6 feet at all times
- Give people space. That means in parking lots or other gathering areas, but it also means on the trail.
- Respect any trail or facility closures. (And remember, have a backup plan before you leave, in case you arrive to find an area closed or crowded.)
- Be extra cautious. Emergency responders are very busy. Please don’t take any risks that might mean you need rescue or health care.
- Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer before you eat, and avoid sharing water bottles or snacks.
- Pack out your trash and any toilet paper. That means taking it home with you. This is always our advice but it will take all of us doing a little extra to keep our trails in good shape right now.