28/ MAY 2021 THE RIDER

President Sonja Wyss 705-434-7947

2020 Ontario Trail Riders Association Board of Directors Secretary

Laurie Panagiotou 905-807-2786

Treasurer/Membership Elaine Wiesner 519-940-1710

Website Development Tina Kerst

416-907-6051 tiamiadart@gmail.coma

Directors at Large Karen Plume, 519-604-4020, Cathy Togeretz, 519-465-1758,

Area Representative Elaine Wiesner 519-940-1710

Sandra Kendall, 905-939-8356, Lana English, 519-658-3489,

9045 20 Sideroad, Tosorontio, Lisle, ON L0M 1M0 •

OTRA and its members represent the equestrian trail user with the Ontario Trails Council, Ontario Eques- trian Federation and Equine Canada. We welcome your membership to help support the voice of OTRA on your behalf. Visit our Facebook Page


We all have that dream of loading up our

horse for the first time ever and arriving at that one special beautiful forest that we have been told has ‘the best trails’. Riders who have been living the dream, have already spent months and sometimes years preparing their horse for every possible ob- stacle, while still learning continuously to achieve ‘expert’ status. Even the well-seasoned trail horse can suddenly become bedazzled by this ‘new ver- sion’ of a chipmunk bolting across the trail, and start spooking out of his/her mind! This brings up the point of dogs: Ask others before bringing your ‘best friend’ along as not every rider or horse is ac- customed to having a dog running in and around their legs, or shares your love with them. First time trail riders need to prep as much as

if they were going into competition. Conditioning your horse in a way that he/she can carry you for possibly hours at a time, even at a walk. Your horse will benefit physically, with less chance of frustra- tion mentally. Buddy-up with someone who is in the same physical condition as you are and has the same goals. Riding the forest trails, hacking, or even

bushwhacking together with other riders is fun and can be an exhilarating experience but it will also test your and your horse’s skills. A trail can be a scary place for the first-time trail horse. Don’t get frustrated when your horse won’t cross water on the trail while doing it perfectly at home. Don’t

ever be embarrassed to dismount and walk your horse through ‘scary’ areas. The same goes if you feel that your horse is suddenly off - dismount and walk him back to camp or the trailer. Just halt the group you are riding with and let them know your plans. And if your unfamiliar with the place ask someone to join you on your way back. LEAVE SPACE - at least 2 full horse lengths,

even if you know the horse in front of you. He may not know the one in front of him and a sudden spook could land several horses and riders in very precarious positions if riding too close to one an- other. Space allows you not only to see ahead but also enables you and your horse to make split sec- ond decisions of how to get out of the way if re- quired. Avoid letting your horse sniff or rub up against strange horses, even at a standstill. Horses are quick to decide when their ‘bubble’ has been invaded and can bite or kick out, injuring your horse or you. With all precautions the inevitable can still happen. Even horses that know each other can suddenly decide in this strange, exciting envi- ronment that he does not want his buddy so close. And I am speaking from experience here: Perfect group photo opportunity, squeezing together, and getting too close to a horse that is claustrophobic, and there comes the kick. Got lucky that day with the chaps absorbing the blunt of it, leaving only a bruised, sore leg! There are some protocols that first time trail

riders should be aware of but that we should all know - RIBBONS! No, not the one you get for

The Ontario Trail Riders Association Inc, estab- lished in 1970, is an equestrian organization which promotes recreational trail riding and the creation, development, preservation and safe use of trails.

placing at a competition. We are talking the color- coded ones tied to your horse’s tail: RED means CAUTION (horse kicks or strikes), YELLOW (Stallion), GREEN (Young and Inexperienced), BLUE (Stallion or Aggressive Gelding), PINK (Moody Mare), and WHITE (For Sale). Don’t SHARE food or water buckets with

any horse that do not come from your barn: we are all too aware how quickly viruses can spread and the last thing you want is to take home anything to infect the rest of the horses at the barn. EHV-1, In- fluenza, strangles and a plethora of others. CHOOSE Your group – join a group that

matches you and your horses’ goals for the day. Tell the lead person of the group, you are a ‘new- bie’, there is NO shame in sharing your level of ex- pertise, comfort, and riding experience. SHARE if you horse is green or very old, or not in good con- dition. The leader of the group will make sure to keep an eye on you. Make sure you are in a group of like-minded riders with horses that are in the same ‘condition’ your horse is. Can your horse make a 7-mile trail walk or can he do 14 miles at a walk, trot, canter?

There is nothing more terrify-

ing or frustrating than joining up with a group that prefers to go at a speed higher than what you are comfortable with. BE AWARE of your surroundings at all

times, carry a GPS and/or a Phone, and ID (a copy of your Health Card is a good idea), and an Emer- gency Contact which you should share with some- one in the group. Also, let people at home know where you are going and the approximate time of

Requirements: If a non-mem- ber, please see ride organizer and pay day fee: all participants must sign a waiver and show proof of liability insurance.

your return. Don’t wander off by yourself without letting someone in the group know as accidents happen, and the group wants to make sure every- one has a great and safe ride and returns home in one piece.

INSPECT your horse after the ride for ticks,

new wounds or sprains, and check yourself or have someone do a tick-check on you. Check your tack again AFTER the ride as perhaps you lost some- thing on the trail. Lastly, HAVE FUN, be wise, be kind, careful and mindful of the group you are with. Be respectful of the forest and don’t leave anything behind that wasn’t there naturally. Have your first aid kit handy, a pocket knife and some extra binder twine to back up as reins or a rope hal- ter if need be. Follow the horseman’s law: Treat others as you wish to be treated and all will be well. If you are interested in joining a ‘Introduction

to Trail Riding’ contact the Executive as we are of- fering those upon request. Keep checking our OTRA website or follow us on facebook for additions or updates on our 2021 ride schedule. You can also send us an email to And don’t forget – we have EXTENDED all paid 2020 memberships into 2021 since we were unable to take advantage of most rides last year. Just be sure to send in any updates of your liability insurance as it is required for any current member. Happy TRAILS!

Submitted by OTRA WEBMASTER Tina Kerst-Grenier

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