STEP Lightly

Let's team up to protect the horseback-riding trails you and your horse love.

Here at AQHA, we believe that taking an active role in land preservation is part of our responsibility as horse enthusiasts.

Stewards for Trails, Education and Partnerships is a program to increase participation in trail stewardship among equine enthusiasts while casting a positive light on horseback riders to land managers and other trail users.

Equestrian groups and individuals are encouraged to participate in trail maintenance and restoration projects. Thanks to a partnership with Tractor Supply Company, AQHA funds groups or organizations that have the most impact for community involvement and trail sustainability. Applications must be received by AQHA on or before August 1 of each year to be considered.

The STEP program allows individuals to submit trail conservation project proposals nationwide.

Impress your new conservation-minded friends by telling them all about horse colors. Download AQHA’s FREE Horse Color Chart and become an expert on coat colors while you conserve!

Additional benefits of STEP include helping national land managers recruit volunteers for trail stewardship, educating equestrians to be effective advocates for trail stewardship, maintaining goals for trails and trailheads with land management, improving stewardship of land owned by horseman adjacent to or critical to national land, and building and/or strengthening relationships between local equestrian communities and land managers for long-term stewardship of trails, trailheads and campgrounds.

Land preservation is the responsible thing to do, but as a horse enthusiast, it’s also in your best interest. There is simply no way to ensure access for trail riding unless you take over as a steward of the land. Get involved with AQHA’s STEP program to protect access for you and future generations.

Here are some additional trail tips:

From Tread Lightly, a nonprofit organization focusing on outdoor ethics:

Top 6 ways to be a “green” trail rider

1.    Do your part by leaving the area better than you found it.
2.    Properly dispose of waste and pack out trash
3.    Minimize the use of fire.
4.    Avoid the spread of invasive species.
5.    Volunteer and restore degraded areas.
6.    Join a local enthusiastic organization.

We think being green is great, but it's not one of the 17 AQHA-recognized colors. Get AQHA's FREE Horse Color Chart for detailed descriptions and full-color examples. You'll become a coat color expert!

Travel Responsibly

    • Stay on designated roads, trails and other areas open to horse use.
    • Ride single file to reduce trail damage and don’t cut switchbacks.
    • If there are no trails and horseback riding is permitted, spread out in open country. Spreading out, rather than following each other’s tracks, disperses impact and avoids creating a new trail.
    • Comply with all signs and barriers.

From the U.S. Forest Service:

Call before you haul. If you’re riding on public lands, check in with the district office to make sure no trails have been closed due to weather or wildlife activity