Safety on the Trails
Riding horses is an inherently risky business for both horse and rider. Please read these safety guidelines carefully and if you are unclear about anything please do not hesitate to ask us. Our intention with these guidelines is not to alarm, but to be honest and explain from one horseperson to the other, the ‘tricky’ parts of each ride and the best ways to deal with them. If you are mentally well-prepared for the ride and conscious of the partnership you have with your horse, there will be far less room for unfortunate mishaps. Your horse puts all of his trust in you and accepts you as his leader, so you must behave accordingly and show him that you are worthy of his trust.
Our safety guidelines:
Wear a hard hat
We always recommend that you should wear a hard hat when riding on the trail. It is your decision, but before choosing not to wear a hard hat remember to check that it does not invalidate your travel insurance.
Take the time to get to know your horse
Before each ride you will be given time to familiarise yourself with our horses and the principles of Peruvian equitation. We will evaluate the ability and personality of each person in order to match horse to rider. We will then tell each rider about the specific characteristic traits and personality of his/her horse about how best to handle him. No horse is perfect and neither are we, but that is what makes us all so much more interesting! The time needed for this mutual introduction and familiarisation depends on the group size and individual needs, so please be patient with us at this time.
Always wait for assistance from the guide or the back-up guide before mounting or dismounting your horse
Although we require riders to be able to mount and dismount without assistance, we know that many accidents can happen when riders attempt to get on or off their horse by themselves. When mounting as a group, spirited horses are unlikely to stand still and some assistance is often needed. As a general rule, therefore, please always wait until there is somebody on the ground to hold your horse before you move to get on or off.
Please note that during the ride there can be times when it is not always possible to offer assistance, especially during emergency stops on narrow trails, which is why we need to know that all riders are capable of mounting and dismounting unassisted when required.
Keep a safe distance on the trails
There is no need to ride one behind the other when the trail is sufficiently wide, but where terrain dictates that we must stay in a line – please always keep at least one horse-length’s distance between each other. This is not always easy when you are riding a spirited and forward-going horse, but it is necessary in order to avoid chaotic and potentially dangerous situations. It is the same principle as driving your car on the motorway - you need to keep a safe distance in order to anticipate or identify danger and react in time to avoid an accident. So please do not ride on each other’s tails.
The trail guide always leads. Do not pass him/her or choose your own trail
The following real examples illustrate what can go wrong if you don’t follow your guide:
Knowing the terrain.
The trail guide leading the ride made zig-zagging loops on what seemed to be open lush terrain, thus avoiding groups of cactus plants hidden in the grass. One rider at the back decided to take a short cut and as a result his horse stepped on a cactus - a very painful experience for the horse and something which was completely avoidable.
Always follow the path of the guide.
On a narrow trail one rider decided to take a side path. However, this resulted in him being higher up and further away from the rest of the group. In order to re-join everyone, the horse had to make a very risky jump downwards.
If you are uncomfortable – let us know immediately
Sometimes it takes just the smallest thing to make you uncomfortable. If you have knee ache it could be that your stirrups are too short for example. It takes just a few seconds to adjust a stirrup, so please do not suffer in silence. Speak up and let us know how we can help you.
Keep drinking water
It is easy to dehydrate on the trail and forget to drink. We always make frequent water stops along the way, but if you need to stop more often then let us know. Remember you are already starting to dehydrate if you feel thirsty…
We also carry a full first aid kit on the ride and so if you are feeling the effects of the altitude (a slight headache, feeling dizzy or short of breath) then let us know immediately and we can give you something to help
Think and act as a group, not as an individual
Spirited horses can become restless and become difficult to mount if another horse is already on the move. Please always mount and dismount together. Wait for each other and do not walk your horse around once you are mounted as this will make life difficult for other riders who have still to mount their horse. Remember there is no rush – the ride will not leave without you! Horses are herd animals and they will always try to keep together. Always remember to wait for the last horse after you finish a steep downhill trail. If you keep moving, the horse that is still on the trail behind you will rush downhill to keep up with the group.
The trail guide in front has a clear view of the trail and will warn the rider behind him for possible holes and dangerous obstacles. You have an obstructed view when you ride behind another horse, so it is your duty to pass the word on to the rider behind you.
The trail guide decides the pace and difficulty of each ride
It is the trail guide’s responsibility to adjust the ride to the least experienced member of the group. For most of our rides we require at least intermediate riding skills i.e you are confident to ride a forward-going horse at all paces in open countryside. Remember, riding in the safe confines of a riding school arena is not the same as riding over difficult and rough mountainous terrain. Good technical riding skills and balance from the rider are necessary requirements when riding over this type of terrain.
It is important to understand the negative impact that high altitude and a lack of oxygen has on the horses. Often you only really realise how hard it is when you hike the same track on foot; you’ll be breathless in no time. High altitude rides over difficult terrain are by definition not suitable for fast riding or endless galloping. There may be the opportunity on certain rides for some fast canters, but it is the trail guide who decides when and where. Please respect your guide’s decisions which are made with experience and have your and your horse’s best interests at heart.
Keep your balance thereby keeping your horse in balance
The majority of accidents that happen on the trails are not caused by horses, but by riders who unnecessarily interfere with their horse’s balance. Riders are prone to either lean too far forward, too far backwards or sideways, or they simply unbalance the horse by pulling too hard on the reins, thereby jabbing the horse in the mouth and hurting him. On steep climbs or descents it is always advisable to maintain a vertical position in the saddle. During a steep climb it will seem as though you are sitting forward, but you are actually maintaining your body in a vertical line. The same applies when going downhill.
Taking photos on the trail
One rarely takes good photos from the back of a moving horse. It is far better to ask your guide to stop the ride and allow you to take a picture from a standstill at a scenic spot. The chances are that other people will also want to take a photo from the same view point and it is seldom a problem to stop unless the ride is on a steep and narrow trail.
As a mark of respect, please be discrete when taking photos of local people.
Always be aware of your surroundings and be aware of your actions.
Every action you take has an impact on others. Be courteous, kind and considerate on the trail.
Flapping jackets or ponchos easily startle horses and could cause them to jump or run. If you need to remove/put on a layer of clothing/apply sun cream etc – please ask somebody to hold your horse first. It is never a problem for the guide or back-up guide to come to your assistance.
Thank you for reading this and we hope you have a great ride with the team at Perol Chico.