Tree branch etiquette for trail riders

Use this technique to protect yourself and your companions from a common trail hazard.

Riding down an overgrown trail can mean encountering overhanging branches. Pushing past a branch isn’t difficult, but if you’re the lead rider of the group you’ll want to keep it from snapping back and striking the horse (or rider) following you. Here’s how to do it: As you pass a branch that reaches out into the trail, put your reins in one hand to free up the other. Then, lift the branch straight up and over your head as you walk under it. Once you are past, do not hold the branch---let it go immediately, so it drops behind your horse’s hindquarters as he continues down the trail. The goal is to move the branch up and down rather than forward and backward. If the rider behind you uses the same method, no horse will be subject to a flying branch to the face and everyone will have a nicer ride.

trail riding

This article first appeared in EQUUS issue #453, June 2015.