Some of us ride alone out of necessity. Others ride alone because they want to do so. And some of us never ride alone. No matter which way, we all know that if we are injured, time can be critical. It could be too late by the time someone discovers us, even if it’s at our own home arena or barn (20% of equestrian accidents occur in the barn), let alone out on a trail.
Yes, it’s worse if you leave the property. If you do, be sure to leave an easily noticed note that states what route you’re taking and when you expect to return. If you fall and the horse takes off for home (yes, he knows the way), someone may find him, but will they find you?
A dear friend of mine, a hunter/jumper rider in Southern California, said, that for her, “Riding alone vs. riding with others present is no contest. I would take my chances and ride alone any day of the week.” She said having the ring to herself means she doesn’t have to worry about someone else’s horse misbehaving or blithely riding in front of a jump she’s about to pop over. It’s a choice.
But whether you ride alone or in a crowded boarding situation, it’s most important that a first responder can reach your emergency contact. That information can’t be filed away in the barn office. It needs to be easily accessible. Wear a bracelet, necklace or other visible band that can be easily seen and reviewed, like the ones in our article. No one is going to search through your wallet or phone. First responders can’t, thanks to privacy retraints, and others shouldn’t to protect themselves from later accustations of theft.
A good idea is to leave emergency contact information on your stall or horse’s corral. That way, if your horse shows up without you attached, people know who to notify.
About a year ago, a reader called to express his concern about riding without ID. He said he never leaves the barn on horseback without a paper in his helmet that carries his emergency information and a luggage tag on the horse’s saddle with the same information, he said.
That tag-on-the-saddle idea is brilliant. The horse can slip out of his bridle, but usually the saddle remains attached to the horse’s body.
Limit the information to what a first responder needs to know: emergency contact information for two different people, your allergies and drug reactions. Too much info slows everything down. And be absolutely certain you take the time to keep that information up-to-date. It’s just too important.
Cynthia Foley, Editor-in-Chief