One of the best summers, and some of the best summer memories I have, are from the summer I spent horseback riding with my horse, Moonie and my best friend and her horse, Red (who actually belonged to my husband at the time). For almost any horse lover, nothing can compare to the happiness gained from spending time, and going on long summer horseback rides, with your horse.
Of course, riding your horse for hours at a time during the summer doesn’t just happen. You have to plan and build up to it and follow a few guidelines for riding your horse in the summer. I have written this article with five tips to help guide you to horseback riding during the summer that will ensure the health and safety of both you and your horse.
Tips for Riding Your Horse in the Summer #1: Start Slow to Condition Both You and Your Horse
If you live where the weather is cold and snowy during the winter months, then it’s possible that you and your horse are not in any condition to go on long summer rides. You will need to build up slowly to those long rides. This tip is very important for both you and your horse. If you want to avoid having sore, painful muscles that keep you AND your horse from going riding for weeks, then start your riding regime slowly with walking.
You might even check with your veterinarian first to make sure your horse is in good condition and ready to be ridden frequently over the summer months.
At first, keep your rides short, perhaps an hour every other day. Once you and your horse are comfortable with the short rides, lengthen the ride and include some trotting or jogging. Depending on what condition your horse made it through the winter in, it may only take a month or so to build up to three or more hour rides.
Tips for Riding Your Horse in the Summer #2: Ride Early Morning or Late Evening
When the weather is hot and/or humid, the best time to ride your horse is either during the early morning hours or late in the evenings. I used to enjoy early morning rides the best, just as the sun was rising, and the new day began. The weather was coolest then and there were fewer people around. Unfortunately, I didn’t have access to an arena at the time so riding my horse out on the trail during mornings was the only time I could ride.
If you do ride during the hottest part of the day, be extremely careful that your horse does not get heat stroke, sunburn or become dehydrated. You have to keep a close eye on your horse to keep him healthy and in top riding condition.
Tips for Riding Your Horse in the Summer #3: YOUR Personal Safety and Comfort
Wearing a helmet/hat will keep your head protected while you are horseback riding. Yes, it may be hot but in case you fall off head first, your helmet will take the biggest impact of the fall, perhaps saving you a serious head injury. No one wants to think about accidents that can happen, but a horse is a very large and very strong animal and accidents DO happen. It’s best to be prepared.
To make your ride more pleasant for you, put your hair up in a ponytail if you have long hair. Remember to apply sunscreen to your face, back of your neck, ears, and any other exposed areas of skin.
Take your cell phone with you, in case of emergencies, but keep it on vibrate mode so the ring doesn’t spook your horse. You can carry your phone in a fanny pack on your body, NOT on your horse, just in case you and your horse get separated.
Take sunscreen, a snack, water and anything small you think you might need in an emergency in your fanny pack on your body. I can’t stress enough how important it is to keep your fanny pack on your body and not on your horse or saddle. You might carry your identification and a few dollars as well.
For your horses’ comfort, you might add some sunscreen to any white areas around the muzzle or tail that may sunburn plus use fly repellant to keep the flies from bothering your horse while you ride.
Tips for Riding Your Horse in the Summer #4: Use Correctly Fitting Tack for Your Horse
Using the proper gear while you ride your horse at any time is important but during the summer, it is even more important. You want to be certain that your saddle fits your horse properly or you won’t be able to ride for hours each week over the summer because your horse will be in pain. And once your horse is in pain for improperly fitting equipment, you won’t be able to ride again until your horse is well AND you’ve spent the money to buy correctly fitting tack. Check out the guide to fitting the saddle to your horse at HorseRides.org.
Tips for Riding Your Horse in the Summer #5: Ride, Rest and Respect Property that Doesn’t Belong to You
If you are riding for hours over long distances, be sure to stop and rest both you and your horse periodically. Find a shady spot, dismount and loosen your horses’ cinch and rest. If you can find a water source for your horse, that’s even better.
I do want to mention that if you are riding close to farmer’s fields, the water they use to irrigate the fields is not always safe for your horse to drink because the farmers may add something to the water or spray weed killer or bug spray along the ditches that can possibly contaminate the water. Plus, farmers do NOT want you to ride in their fields, so for your safety, and that of your horse, consider them off-limits.
By using the tips I’ve listed in this article as a guide, you and your horse should have many long summer rides ahead of you. Have fun!
- Personal Experience.