October 24, 2007

Trail Riding Etiquette for Donkey Riders

By Marna Kazmaier
Belle Fourche, SD

I love organized equine trail rides. The more folks that come on each one, the merrier. My husband, Deron and I have spent many weekends in WI at these well organized and good clean fun events. Many, if not almost all, had live bands on Saturday night, campfire dinners, campfire
breakfasts and good ole campfire stories as well as campfire games.

Deron and I also have been on many group rides. This is where a friend calls up several people and says, come on over on this day, at this time and bring your horses, we will ride a couple hours before dinner.

One thing we found was that many equine riding folks do not know anything about trail etiquette. You would think that common sense would rule....but no. Just like so many spoiled children exist in public restaurant today....rude folks are on horse back and at these organized and unorganized events.

So how do you deal with this? You must keep the humor in it all. You must not allow other peoples rudeness, albeit some of them are just stupid , ruin your nice week end...or even your short ride in the woods. Sometimes these will just be folks out for a ride in the woods that did not expect to run into other riders. Don't forget that some of the folks you will encounter on organized trail rides, believe it or not, only ride this one time per year. Sometimes horse folks bring friends that only get to ride once in a while, so not only are they inexperienced, these folks are excited to be there. This gives the old "Watch out for the other guy." new meaning.

One thing you can do is nicely say "I am not sure if your know this or not, but you really should keep at least a horses length between riders. Pretend that there is an imaginary horse between us." or "Please don't run up on people riding horses while on a trail ride, it can excite the younger horses. Don't forget there are inexperienced riders here. I would hate to see you face a lawsuit over not abiding by trail etiquette." Or another thing you can nicely say is "Please stay on the trail, we don't own this property and we sure hope to be invited back for this ride again next year. One good way to ruin that is to get off the trail and offend the land owner." When you say things like these it puts the blame, if you will, on a third party, so of course, well, most of the time, the other rider will not take offended to what you are saying.....many times, they really did not know any better.

Sometimes you just have to grin and bear the other people's rudeness and just "talk about them" back at camp. You know, "constructive criticism". Sometimes, gossiping, oh I mean, "talking it out" with other understanding riders, will make you feel better and life will go on. Again, remember it may be there first organized ride.

If this is your first organized ride you may want to buy a nice set up saddle bags. You might want to use these, lightly packed, at home on the trails there before filling the up and taking off out on a trail with many other riders. Your animal may be a bit overwhelmed with the ride, the more you can get your mount used to before the ride the better. A Cantle or Horn Bag may be all you need, but like I said, try them at home first. Just remember, an organized ride with many riders is not the place to try new tack out.

What to put in these bags? Always take your rain gear. Yes. Even if rain is not expected, take it anyway. You might want to put a hat and gloves in your bag in the winter, spring and summer months. It can get pretty chilly in the woods on an early morning ride. A small first aid kit that you have packed so that it does not rattle inside while riding. A lead rope and halter if not already on your horses face. Most folks do, while trail riding, leave a halter on under their equine's bridles. Carry a pocket knife and some cash in your pockets as well as your truck keys. Many rides have Half Way Points and at them sell food and or drinks. You may want to carry a cold drink, not carbonated, in your saddle bags. Carry anything else you can think of you might need while out on the trail (think monthly ladies).

Remember when packing for an organized ride you are mixing equine riding and camping, make lists, mark things off the list as you load them. Start your list a week before the event and add to it as you think of things you may want to take....unlike backpacking, you are not camping light when you go with a horse trailer and truck.

If you normally high tie your animals also pack wire and poles for a small pen. There may not be any trees where you are going, high tying may not be allowed or all the trees may be taken by other riders. Be prepared for any event like these.

Bring and wear clothes in layers. Always pack a jacket, even in the summer months. Don't forget to bring your normal riding clothes. While you will want to dress nice, you still need to be safe and comfortable. Keep in mind on several organized rides the press will come and take pictures for the paper....sometimes the TV news teams will even come and film. Dress as you would like for the world to see you.If you sleep in a tent set the tent up next to your vehicle. If horses get loose and run during the night staying close to vehicles is safer. You might not get trampled, if you are close to something they can see, like your rig. Some folks clean out the back of their trailers, throw down a tarp, then set up their tent in the trailer. It is a safe, dry and private place to sleep. When you build your campfire remember it's a campfire, not a bomb fire, keep it small. It is best to make a rock fire ring around where you will be building the fire. Put all fires out before
leaving for the trail or going to bed.

Lock your rig when you leave for the trail. Put all valuables away in your truck or trailer before leaving. Most organized rides are advertised.....don't you just hate that thieves seek out easy targets like this?

If you don't know......some of the Organized Rides unwritten rules are:
*Leave room for folks to tack up and move their horses around between rigs, trucks/trailers.
*Don't "pile up" at the beginning of the ride while lining up at the starting area. It may take some time to get started, some organizers mark and count horses as they leave for the trail. Most mark with a small colorful piece of yarn knotted on the bridle.
*No running children though camp (that also goes for adults and is tailored for drunk adults).
*Set up a small pen for your horses for the week end....this is not their grazing home, just a week end get away. A small pen.
*Don't approach other peoples animals without asking the owner.
*If your animal has EVER kicked or threatened to kick tie a red ribbon on/in it's tail. Don't cheat on this one.
*Stay on the marked trail.
*Don't run your horses out on the trail unless it is a running/cantering area. Never run up on other horses on the trail.
*Be patient when crossing water. Don't spook, slap or push other people's hesitant horses.
*Quiet after 11 pm.
*Support the local club that put the ride on they only charged you about $2 per equine to get in. Buy their raffle tickets.
*Children are welcome IF they behave and are going with you on the rides. None left in camp during the rides. Keep them with you for the entire week end (or length of the event)
*Dogs, ALL dogs, stay at camp for the day's ride and with you or chained out/crated/contained at all other times.
*If the Event Host hands you any papers READ THEM.

Of course on some rides you would want to write up and hand out rules for the stupid people, they might say:
**Don't steal stuff. A saddle, grill or other items setting out DO belong to someone and YES!! they do want to keep them.
**Leave the rider's horses/animals alone. No, you may not ride the Stallion.
**Keep your &@#! brats, I mean children, with you and under control.
**SHUT UP, it is 1:30 am.
**No one here thinks you are as cute as you think you are when you are drunk.
**Don't lean on, especially while drunk, other people's horses, or other people.
**No, we do not want to hear your type of music blaring all over the entire camp.
**Don't flirt mercilessly with other people's spouses.
**Your dog may run loose at home, even though your neighbors don't like it, but they can not here.

Now luckily the stupid people are far and few between at these events. Most of the trail rides I have been on there was no trouble at all. But I have seen an awful lot of painted ponies.....war paint, grease paint. It happens during the night and nobody knew who might have done this. My
question is? Who raised these people and how have they survived this long? You know? No one has...... well? Offed them out in the woods? They have survived working around equine being as stupid as they act around equine? Why have they not fallen off in some of their stupid equine acts!!?? But you have to laugh. You must keep your humor....after all, you are riding a donkey. Those of us riding donkeys have good humor. We look at life a bit differently.

Donkey owners, lovers, riders are for the most part, a fun, quick witted bunch . I know that cause I have met many. I have been so taken aback at how "half full thinking" donkey owners are. They not only care about animals, all animals, but also people. They welcome newcomers to their hobby or what they call life style and they do so with open arms.

So when it comes to idiots on the trail.....most donkey riders are ready. Ready for the same question they are asked over and over and over......YES!! It is a donkey. Yes, they really get this big. No, it is not a mule. No, I did not loose my horse. No, I did not off a prospector. No, I am not from Mexico. Donkey people are so ready for thequestions that there are even T-Shirts that read YES IT IS A DONKEY.

But what about the idiots that ask the really rude questions....what are some "come backs" for them. Yes, they do hear better with the bigger ears Goldilocks. No, the guy illegally come across the boarder did not feel a thing. It may not outrun your horse, but I am sure it can out think it. No, I don't like riding donkeys, but since I own six and they are less spooky and more sure footed then horses, so I thought, "what the heck". Yes, it's name is Eeyore, isn't that the only name you can give a donkey? See Shriek? I was in it!!

But, then, we must remember that many folks are truly asking because they do not know. They might really want to own a donkey and just don't know anything about them. I know I was/am drawn to them when I saw them at rides. I don't think I asked stupid questions....but who knows.

What you should bring to an organized ride:
*your mount, horses or donkeys or mules or just say equine
*proof of current coggins testing, usually a copy of the papers for the gates person to keep (this is how they keep count)
*your saddles and saddle pads as well as your bridles or equivalent
*saddle bags, cantle and or horn bags
*pen or high tie equipment and don't forget the battery if it is an electric fence
*halters and lead ropes for each animal you take
*an extra lead rope
*grooming supplies for both animals and people
*food for your animals
*food for yourself
*drinks for yourself and family or friends with you
*extra food, people will drift and land at your campsite....and you will be glad they did
*clothes and if there will be a dance, nice clothes
*anything you have equine related or any equine you might have for sale, and for sale signs
*water buckets and water if it is not offered in the advertisement for the ride
*cooking utensils
*a way to wash your cooking utensils
*can opener if applicable
*plates, forks, ext for eating
*treats for your animals
*trail treats for yourself, sometimes rides can and do last all day
*cash/money - you might be surprised what you may need it for
*everything you need for sleeping; sleeping bag, pad, pillow, clothes, anything you need for sleeping
*an extra blanket
*flashlight and batteries, that is *and extra batteries*
*extra flashlights, they break or don't work when you need them the most
*matches for your campfire and of course wood for your campfire
*yes, wood for your campfire, there may not be any where you are going
*coffee/tea/hot cocoa and a way to fix it
*back up food for those who have never prepared food over a campfire before
*apple picker (pooper scouper) some rides require picking up areas
*first aid kit for both humans and animals
*guitar, harmonica or other musical instrument if you play well
*toilet paper - wet wipes


Jon & Roberta


Posted by Tanya Tourjee at 08:38 PM | Comments (0)