What would happen if there was an injury while trail riding? Are you prepared? Do you have medical supplies for the rider and horse? Can you get help? If you didn't return to camp would they know where to look? Would they even notice? We were not prepared initially and never really thought about it until we began riding as a couple in Illinois on several thousand acres and would sometimes not see other riders on the trails all day. That is when we started thinking about it and getting prepared.
What did we think of first? How do you notify help when it is needed? I quickly noticed that should we have an accident, I would need basic medical supplies and the ability to contact help quickly with coordinates so they could find us. As I typically follow along without paying attention it would be difficult for me to find my way back to camp and should I be the one injured I absolutely did not want to be left alone in the woods for an unknown length of time. We already always took our cell phone which we thought of as an emergency line to help BUT the AT&T signal does NOT cover 97% of the United States, atl least not in many of of the areas we have ridden in such as Wranglers at LBL in Kentucky. Hayes Canyon in Illinois, Big South Fork in Tennessee, or Many Cedars in Tennessee. We could get partial service at the top of a hill and I mean partial. Mark discovered a the ACR Beacon which we purchased at Cabela's for $359 and have not had to use as yet thankfully. But it is easy to pack in your cantle bag, waterproof, and easy to use should we need it. This unit sends an emergency beacon signal via NOAH which is accurate within 100 yards of your location. It is now there just in case a train riding injury occurs, medical emergency, wood bees resulting in allergic reactions, a missing horse that somehow comes untied and can't be found....sound familiar. We have shared the information on the ACR beacon many times to others with similar concerns while camping. This is the number one piece of emergency equipment someone in your group should have just in case.
Medical Emergency, What do you really need? I carry a basic survival - medical kit in case of injuries which can range from falling off your horse and needing a temporary fix for stitches to sprained limbs and EPI pen for my husband who is allergic to bees which we will talk about momentarily in their own segment as they are dangerous. The items I have listed will fit into a Quart size Ziploc bag so that it doesn't get wet and I carry them in my cantlebag with the ACR Beacon EVERY time I saddle my horse. Examples:
What about your horse getting injured or losing a shoe? When your horse goes down, your trail ride has ended and each of us cares deeply about our trail riding partner. A 1,000 pound horse is difficult to move and pack out so I include Bute, Vet Wrap, small rasp, cinchers, duct tape, NFS, and for injuries to stop bleeding the perfect "easy" product to pack are: Tampons (3), Maxi Pads (3), and Panty Liners (4) all women's products. Let me explain. These will keep a compress on a wound, are wrapped - sanitary, and absorb the blood away from the wound. I keep supplies in my barn as well. The tampons are for any puncture wounds to plug the hole then compress the top with a pad and vet wrap. In a pinch easy supplies that are small enough to carry with you and work.
For hot weather I include a bottle of water for my horse in the saddle bags that is frozen when we start and a 16" square of those new fabric chamois to clean cars as it will absorb lots of water to dry the sweat then pour the cold water onto it and place on her neck and chest. It will work. I also take horse treats as my mare loves them and on a long ride you eat a snack and she will need a boost of energy which this provides and as I said she loves them so it works either way. NOTE: Do not give more than a couple of treats as I can say from experience that 12 on a long ride will ramp up that sugar content to the point that a horse that is slow and broke for kids to ride will be ready to run and hard to handle.
Easy ways to track your trail ride so you can get back to the camper. Mark bought a GPS years ago and it works wonderfully but I find it difficult to use even though I am computer savy. I prefer my Maps app which I have on my iphone and the Google Earth App as well. Interestingly enough I found that even when your cell phone will not make a call with AT&T my APP will be tracking nonetheless. Also, if you want to keep track of your trail rides, time you were gone, and mileage I have found the Cyclemeter APP on my iphone which I absolutely love. I am trying for 500 trail riding miles this year. Last year it was 294 but it was also my first year riding full steam after 5 knee surgeries which I will write about later.
Remember your medical issues. I'm diabetic and have to remind myself of it often as I go long periods without having any issues taking my medicine and eating on time. Trail Riding is another matter as you loose track of time, are gone longer than you though, and most riders do not stop for a meal simply snacking. I will say that your sugar can bottom our quickly making the distance from the saddle to the ground real close which I am not found of. Always tell your riding partners about medical issues, carry medicine, take snacks, and DO NOT take 5 hour energy drinks.
Tell someone where you plan to ride and how long. I know it sounds basic, but when we bought the ACR unit it was the first basic step they listed. We rarely told anyone where we are going or when to expect us back. Have you ever thought about what would happen if you didn't come back on time and how long it would take for anyone to notice "IF" they noticed? Then where would they start looking? How long would it take for them to find you? I never gave it consideration until we rode in Illinois on thousands of acres as a couple where they DO NOT have great trail markers and you rarely see anyone while trail riding.
GROUND BEES! Never gave them a moment's thought for 44 years. I know about them now though and have a healthy fear and respect for them keeping a vigilant eye for any sign they "may" be nearby. Think about riding through beautiful trails with soaring bluffs and sparkling water with friends then suddenly both you and your horse are frantic wantint whatever it is to stop. There was no warning, simply stinging pain and adrenaline mixed with fear which was pure hell. Mark as the lead horse had ridden across a ground bee hole which was maybe the size of a silver dollar in the ground. Nothing sinister looking about it until you know what it is. Now also consider the fact that hundreds of yellow and black tiny bees are attacking the source of their home life disruption which my friend Judy and I were who they thought directly responsible. Our horses were terrified and thankfully well trained as we did not go flying off them and could control them enough to avoid serious injury. I simply wanted to jump down, tear off my clothes, and seek the source of the attack as we did not yet realize what it was it happened so fast dozens of stings for me more than enough for Judy. They key here is RUN FAR AND FAST several hundred yards minimum!! The important thing is to get as far away as quickly as possible while trying to control your horse who thinks you are directly responsible for whatever it is that is happening to her. Even when we finally came to a stop the bees where still attached to the horses and both of us. Luckily Mark was not stung as he took that notable moment to tell me that he was allergic to bees! When we finally stopped I actually jumped / slid to the ground and started tearing my clothes of without a care for who else was riding with us brushing off the bees that were still with me. A fellow trail rider had seen ground bees before and immediately started peeling a cigarette, wetting it, then slapped it on my stings which will work. I now carry After Bite with me. Another rider had Benadryl liquid thankfully. The horses were still blowing and had bees still clinging to them as well which we also took care of. I will say you learn what a truly phenomenal horse you have in situations such as this one. Evil bees and they are prevalent in late August August through September in areas where the ground is damp or wet. If you see yellow tape hanging from a branch in odd locations from now on think Ground Bees? This is thoughtful riders who have experienced bees and are trying to keep you from being attacked.
I also discovered that being stung so many times will make you extremely sick and that thoughts of a relaxing Labor Day Weekend trail riding are no longer appealing as we both could only think of returning home to nurse our wounds. Another result of the attack made itself known this past fall while camping at Big South Fork when one lone bee stung me and I reacted with excessive panic and pain which was embarrassing however 15 minutes later I discovered why as I was flat on the floor and discovering what an allergic reaction was. Note: based on my experience in this situation as a diabetic, you can take 4 tablespoons of Benadryl and if that does not work wait 15 minutes and take another 2 tablespoons. In case of extreme reaction you need an EPI pen which I did purchase after finding out my husband was allergic and added to my medical kit; however, I used the Benadryl first and it was only one sting so it worked well.
5 Hour Energy? NO....NO...NO Mark has taken to bringing 5 hour energy with him camping. Riding all day makes it difficult to extend our evening hours to past 8pm and it works for him perfectly. I decided to try it at Many Cedars in Tennassee and luckily only took 1/2 of the small bottle as it tasted too sweet. It bottomed my sugar to below 40 within 110-The disclaimer says it works fast, they are right and the reason I note this is two reasons. One I did not immediately connect it with my sugar levels a RN working with me noted my demeanor and response and quickly put the two together. The other is NEVER forget trail riding and camping are for relaxing and there is limited help. Try new and possibly great things at home first. I've found it is much safer and definately more relaxing.
As I discover by accidental trial and error more things that may help you enjoy trail riding, I'll add them right here and if you have any tips you want to share please do not hesitate to give me a call or Email me at Genesis Tennessee Walking Horse Farm in Slaughters Kentucky. My Email. The goal is to help others discover easy ways to truly enjoy trail riding safely and confidentally.
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