Sharing the Trail

Protect our horseback riding privileges on public land.

From America's Horse

Sometimes you have to envy the explorers of the Old West. They wandered the untamed wilderness with only their trusty horses for company. They pretty much had the place to themselves. That’s not so anymore.

It can get pretty cozy when trails are shared between horseback riders, hikers, bikers, motorcyclists and backpackers. And crowding can lead to friction. But with some horse sense, there can be harmony among the admirers of our scenic byways.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind when on the trails:

On the trail

    • Greet approaching bikers or hikers. Communicating with other trail users upon encountering them encourages courteous behavior. Asking them to yield to horses is an important safety issue.
    • Stick to durable surfaces and resist the temptation to take shortcuts on switchbacks.

AQHA offers three types of memberships: general, amateur and youth. What type of membership is right for you?

In camp

    • Choose eco-friendly campsites. Locate your camp at least 100 feet from waterways and wetlands, and well away from trails and other campers. Choose sites in the trees, when possible, and in places that are not intrusive to other campers.
    • If you “camp” in your horse trailer’s living quarters, run your generator as little as possible. Noise pollutes, too.
    • If you pack it in, pack it out. Trash spoils any outdoor experience.
    • Minimize the use and impact of campfires.
    • Spread manure. You might not mind the smell of horse manure, but your fellow users do. Manure disintegrates in a matter of days. Spreading the manure before heading to the next site will help minimize signs of your visit.
    • Move campsites often. Although grazing actually benefits the health of most pastures, an overgrazed camp is an eyesore. Moving horses to new pasture on a daily basis helps to minimize the impact.
    • In fragile, high-mountain areas or where grasses are scarce, pack concentrated hay/grain pellets. If you take hay, make sure it has been certified weed free so you don’t contaminate the backcountry with noxious weeds.
    • Don’t tie horses to trees; use picket lines, high lines or hobbles, or make a corral using portable electric fencing.
    • Leave the site as you found it, or borrow a popular Sierra Club saying, “Take only pictures, leave only footprints.”

Roll It!

From QuarterFest 2009, Bo Winslow gives you the lowdown on camping and some of the do's and don'ts involved in camping with your horse.

Tractor Supply Co. sponsors AQHA’s trail conservation program, STEP (Stewards for Trails, Education and Partnerships), which allows individuals to submit trail conservation project proposals nationwide. A committee of officials from AQHA, Tractor Supply and the Equestrian Land Conservation Resource will review each individual proposal, select projects for funding and assist in organizing volunteers for the completion of the approved projects.

Trail conservation can provide you with a quality trail experience and is the right thing to do for future generations. The deadline for submission is August 1, 2010, so get started on your proposal now!

AQHA members, get 10 percent off your next online purchase of $25 or more at Tractor Supply Co.

Whether you’re renewing your membership or joining for the first time, being an AQHA member come with plenty of perks. You can get corporate partner discounts, receive America’s Horse magazine, show at official shows and join the horseback riding program!