Horse Trail



The average horse stands over 7 feet, weighs more than 900 lbs., and can run 40 miles per hour A horses natural defense is to run: but if he does not perceive he has that option (cornered), he will kick.

It is natural for a horse to perceive things as dangerous, because he does not see well. Horses have binocular vision as opposed to the humans monocular. There is a blind spot directly behind them and right in front of their nose. They are able to see on one side at a time and are sometimes startled as their view changes from one side to the other. Objects appear larger than they are; therefore more threatening.

The position of a horses ears is an important indicator of its mood: forward = curiosity-one forward one back = he is uncertain-both back and flat =danger! A back pack or a child on the back of a bicycle might be a strange monster to a horse. Alerting him to your presence and soft talk will help to reassure the horse that there is no threat.

All trail users are responsible for watching and listening for others. Traveling on the right side of the trail removes indecision about the proper side on which to pass in flat areas. Always ask for and get permission to pass on the left. Slow down significantly and use caution at curves, and junctions. Surprises are not safe -it doesn't matter what you are riding.

Yield to a horse and rider when possible. Be sure the horse has seen and heard you, give the horse adequate room to pass.

A hiker should call out a friendly hello and request that he would like to pass. The horse rider may need to pull over to the downhill side, to provide the safest position to the hiker. If the rider has his horse under control, proceed; if not allow the rider to move his horse behind you.

Motorized recreation vehicles can usually be heard coming and the horse rider may be well out of the way. If not, please shut off the motor and allow the rider to get a distance behind you before starting up. Turn off engines any time a horse appears nervous. Ask the rider what you can do to help.

Bicyclists are quiet and not heard by horse or rider. Signal by bell or calling out. It may be necessary for the bicyclist to remain stopped, allowing the horse and rider the opportunity to get out of the way, before you proceed on.

If the approaching rider stops his horse, promote a positive relationship with a friendly greeting. Calm, pleasant conversations reassure the animal that all is Ok.

A horse rider may choose to move his horse on without stopping. This is not a lack of courtesy but a decision on how best to control the animal. Or the rider may request that you continue by. Expect the rider to advise you.

Horse riders should always come to a walk while passing.


The first priority is the fallen rider. Let the horse go or let someone else catch him.

If the rider is on the ground for more than 1 or 2 minutes, you must determine if the rider needs medical attention. If so, or if in doubt, call 911 immediately.

Unless the rider has fallen into water do not move him. Do not remove his helmet.

If the rider is unconscious, make sure he is breathing with a clear airway and that he has a pulse. If necessary, start CPR.

If the rider is conscious, ask if he is able to move arms and legs. If not, help him stay calm while you wait for help. Provide shade from the sun or warmth if needed.

Even if the rider appears uninjured, ask a few simple questions to check for mental clarity. Confusion or short term memory loss may indicate a concussion. If the rider seems dazed do not allow him back on the horse.

Do not leave an unconscious or dazed person alone while getting help-if he wakes up he could stumble off and get lost on top of being seriously injured.


Be an educated trail participant.

Practice "scary' encounters in a safe place off the trail.

Give yourselves plenty of room when riding in a group.

Be alert, plan for the unexpected.

Be visible. Wear something bright.

Trail etiquette requires preferential treatment for the horse, say Thank you when you get it. Be friendly, considerate and patient.

Respect the other trail users situation. That hiker may be packing a load and be tired.

A basic emergency kit, helmet, cell phone, companion and letting someone know your travel plans is exercising good "horse sense" .

Do not cross private property without permission.

Protect our environment, stay on the trail; never cut switchbacks.

Avoid using your trail when harmful conditions exist (mud season).

Be sensitive about road apples'. In some cases, it's a good idea to go back and clean up.

If you are using the trails, you should be volunteering at least one weekend a year to help with trail care.

Promote equine respect and prevent equine exclusion on the trail.

The NHHC Inc. is a non profit organization, it's mission is to serve as the voice of the entire equine community.

The NHHC Inc. promotes the horse industry; educates the horse industry and public about horse issues: acts as a watchdog for issues impacting the industry.

NHHC Inc. is funded through grants, membership, subscriptions, fund raising, and contributions.

New Hampshire Horse Council Inc.
273 Poor Farm Road
New Ipswich, NH 03071
(603) 878-1694

Copied from the printed flyer using scanner and OCR software on July 20, 2000 by Kenyon F. Karl <>. Unintentional errors are likely!
Sign images are from the Manual of Traffic Signs by Richard C. Moeur.