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Equipment Failure *or* Rubs and Bumps and Lost Shoes, oh my!
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    Tack equipment failure is the bane of endurance riders. Luckily, there are only a few items that are subject to the rigors of stress, and some lightweight replacements you can carry on trail:

  • Reins - always carry an extra set in your tack box to replace a failing or failed pair at the ride. On trail, carry a piece of bailing twine which can double as an extra set of reins in a pinch.

  • Stirrup leathers - again, carry an extra set in your tack box.  On trail, carry a piece of bailing twine, or use an

extra stirrup leather as a belt. You can also put one around your horse's neck and use it as a grab strap in the meantime.

  • Carabiner Clips - carry one or two of these so-called mountain climber's clips attached to the rings of your saddle. As an emergency fasteners they are the best -- strong, lightweight, easy to use.


  • Girths - always have one or two girths in reserve in your tack box, and only use girths that have at least two buckles on each end.


  • Horse shoes - carry an easy boot with you on the trail to cover for lost shoes. If your horse is shod, have at least one set of pre-formed shoes in your tack box so that the ride farrier can replace a lost shoe quickly with the same brand shoe as on your horse's other hooves.

When Your Horse Just ADR (Ain't Doing Right)

    Many horses during the ride will hide signs of impending problems under the cover of adrenaline. But a smart rider will notice something "not right", and should always be proactive in determining if the problem is minor and fleeting, or something more serious. Warning signs to look for are:

  • sudden disinterest in going down the trail

  • refusal to drink midway through the ride

  • refusal to eat anything at all (including grass)

  • a "far away" look in their eyes

  • sudden stumbling or weaving down the trail

  • quitting - could be anything from simply just being hungry, to the serious condition of rhabdomyolysis (aka tying up)

  • dark brown or red urine - an indicator of rhabdomyolysis (tying up), a very serious condition that demands immediate medical treatment

  • constantly trying to lie down -- an indicator of colic, again a very serious condition.


    Horses are subject to the same physical afflictions as human marathon athletes. They have good days, and bad. Minor colds or illnesses or traveling stress can be a limiting factor and sap the horse's strength to the point where it can be lethargic going down the trail. Always watch your horse's attitude and way of going. Give it the benefit of the doubt when you notice minor changes -- it may just be fatigue brought on by the type of trail, need for food, or need of a rest. Give the horse a break -- get off, let it graze, or just let it relax in a nice stream for a few minutes to refresh and rejuvenate. If the problem goes away, you'll be able to recognize it again next time and be ready sooner. If the problem lingers, or gets worse, you can always stop on the trail and send word to the next vet check (via passing riders) to bring the horse ambulance to get you. If you have come into the vet check, have the vet check your horse carefully. Tell the vet what you've noticed, and if they feel the situation warrants it, they will send your horse over to the Treatment Vet to be treated.


    Sometimes the problem is nothing, sometimes it is critical. Trust your instinct and follow your inner voice. When it comes to your horse's health, don't take anything lightly that appears to be serious.

Accidents on the Trail

    Fallen riders, metabolic horses, and runaway horses are three of the major hazards facing riders on the trail. The start is the worst place for accidents, because the excitement and adrenaline are high, horses are fresh, and the weather is usually cool and inviting.

    If you see a rider come off, STOP, and render assistance if possible. Make sure the rider has not suffered a concussion, and that they have no broken bones. If their injuries are not serious, but their horse has gone, get their number and continue on, reporting the incident and rider number at the next vet check or to a trail spotter, if the ride management has them out on trail. If a rider is seriously hurt from a kick or a fall, stay with them and send someone on to the next vet check to get help. Don't ever leave a fallen or injured rider who is disoriented, or too hurt to get up or walk.

    If a horse suffers an accident or metabolic problem on the trail, make sure the rider doesn't need any immediate assistance, then continue on to the next vet check, or ride spotter, to report the problem. If the rider had requested an ambulance, have the ride management at the vet check send one back to the rider.

    If you hear a runaway horse thundering up behind you, MOVE OUT OF THE TRAIL. Do NOT attempt to grab the reins or you might end up being pulled off your own horse. If the horse comes to a halt further up the trail, then you can attempt to catch it and return it to the rider, or tie the reins to the tree for the rider to come upon the horse themselves.

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