Ride Safety

Don’t Duck Safety

By John “Duck” Lees

No one signs up for the DC Ride planning to be injured or planning to be responsible for a crash that hurts someone else. But every year someone gets hurt.

Desert Caballeros Trail Skull

Ride Safety

To get the conversation going, below are the California Camp’s top ride safety rules each with a note about “What could possibly go wrong?” In 7 years on the ride, we have seen each and every one of these situations at least once. We need to take it seriously, and talk about safety before we mount up and talk about it around the campfire. Don’t be afraid to ask another Caballero for help or advice.

Check it frequently.

What could possibly go wrong? The wrangler got the cinch tight in camp. But an hour later your horse has let the air out of his belly and its loose. Your saddle slides under your horse, you fall but your foot jams in the stirrup and you are dragged up the trail smacking into some rocks as you go. It happens!

What could possibly go wrong? As you swing your body up towards the saddle, your horse steps out to follow horses coming by, you lose your balance, maybe pull the saddle sideways, your boot jams in the stirrup and you get another chance to be dragged up the trail. It happens! Remember. A horse is a HERD animal and for him it’s scary as hell out there by himself

What could go wrong? The horn is attached to the… saddle: pull on the saddle and it will come to you – and if the cinch is loose, you’ve got a rodeo even before getting on. The mane is attached to… the horse: pull on the mane and the saddle might stay where you put it. It doesn’t hurt the horse when his mane is pulled. Just don’t yank.

What could possibly go wrong? You are halfway up the hill when the horse right in front of you looses its footing, slips or topples falling into you and your horse and takes you both down. If you are lucky you avoid going underneath one or both horses. It happens!

What could you possibly go wrong? If you’re not close to vertical, you’re not well balanced and are that much worse off when your horse stumbles or makes a sudden move, like jumping over that damn rock, leaving you on the ground with it. Oh, and give your horse his head with a loose rein on the way down so he can see where to place his feet or else you’re going down with him and taking out the next guy you’re riding too close to. It happens!

What could possibly go wrong? Lots! The reins are attached to.. the bit; yanking the bit hunts big time – that’s the point of the bit; the horse startles, yanks, feels the pain, and makes a bad situation worse. Not to mention that you could bust a rein or the bridle, and now what are you going to do? Find McGiver???
Oh, and when you’ve tied your horse with the lead rope, don’t let your reins get close to the ground because your horse could step on them and seriously hurt himself. In fact, don’t ever let anything, reins, lead rope, cinch, ANYTHING, drag on the ground: your horse could trip, and you could go over with him.

What could possibly go wrong? Your horse pulls back, the branch breaks spooking the horse which takes off with the lead rope tied to the branch which is now whipping the horses sides or rear. Other horses are spooked and join a rapidly escalating herd stampede. It happens. We’ve seen it.

What could possibly go wrong? When you loose your hat, there are worse things that could happen than sunburn, such as freaking out all the horses that don’t know what to do about flying saucers other than run for the nearest bomb shelter. It happens! We’ve seen it.

What could possibly go wrong? Well nothing! The more experienced the rider the more helpful they want to be – Ask and you shall receive assistance and THERE ARE NO STUPID SAFETY QUESTIONS. Do not be unsure or guess what to do

Desert Caballeros Trail Rider