5 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Partake in “Renting” a Horse for a Day
I am a horseback rider with around fifteen years of experience under my belt, and I have never understood why people partake in “Pay-To-Ride” places. I am sure that there are exceptions to what I have seen, and I hope there are, but the grand majority of these facilities boil my blood. Many of the horses are mistreated and don’t teach beginner riders the basics of staying on a horse. Many times during a vacation at the beach or in a wooded area, there are places where anyone can come and request a trail ride. This is common across the world, as other large animals, such as camels and elephants, are also wrapped up into main tourist attractions.
Here are 6 reasons why you should skip out on a trail ride, or pay closer attention to the facilities that you are interested in.
- You don’t know the level of training the owner or horse has. Many people lie and falsify their bios so that people are more comfortable taking lessons or being led on a ride by them, however, even if they claim to be a trainer, that does not determine their skills as a horseback rider. Anyone can “claim” to be a trainer. If the horses have not been trained well enough, it might lead to a very dangerous ride, creating a larger possibility that beginner riders could injure themselves. I have seen too many “trainers” who ride so terribly that I have to just stare, and when these “trainers” teach other inexperienced people about the sport, it encourages poor posture, yanking on the horse’s mouth, hitting them too hard when the horse does not cooperate, and other abusive strategies.
- They don’t care about the safety of the riders. Many times people are shoved onto horses without a helmet; a terrible idea for those who haven’t been on a horse before and will not be receiving any proper instruction. A beginner’s first ride should ALWAYS be in a closed space and controlled environment like in an arena, not on a trail ride where the riders are nervous and accidents can happen. Horseback riding is one of the most dangerous sports, and it should be ensured that both the rider and horse are well prepared to work together.
- Most of the time, they do not treat their horses with care. Many horses are underfed, worked too hard, and have no freedom to just be a horse. Their ribs jut out, revealing their starved and tired bodies, almost incapable of walking, and yet the horses are asked to give the tourists a nice, long ride. It is not normal to ride a horse all day, which is what nearly ALL of these facilities ask for them to do. They stick the horses to a post with ill-fitted saddles strapped to their back for hours on end until the curious and excited tourist comes and rides them into the dirt. Usually, a training horse is asked to do 1–2 lessons a day before going back to pasture, where the horse can eat and roam around freely.
- The horses are worn out and in pain from ill-fitting tack and riders who might be too big for their weight class. Each horse’s back is formed differently, therefore not every piece of tack fits every horse. One has to search for the perfect saddle, bridle, bit, and more, just to ensure that their horse is not in any pain. These trail horses are usually not in fitted tack, which can lead to back problems, rubbing, scarring, and traumatizing the horse. Another thing that is rarely talked about, is how each rider needs to fit the horse, as well. A rider should not exceed 20% of the weight of the horse (which is why we do not ride miniature horses). If your weight exceeds this limit, then you should pick a larger horse that can hold your weight.
- It teaches bad riding. The stigma around horseback riding is already on thin ice, but these fake trainers and trail ride “experiences” perpetuate the idea that all you have to do to ride a horse is to sit there, only pulling back to stop the horse and kicking to go forward. In reality, each horse is like a puzzle that has to be solved, and with the proper training, a horse and rider can grow and work together and you both grow more confident. I feel bad for the horses and the animals whose only job is to sit in a round pin and give inexperienced people rides.
This riding experience does not just end at horseback riding though. Even camel and elephant riding do not shy away from problematic and abusive tactics to entice tourists and their money. Most of the time, their claims of being a “sanctuary” is a scam, it just eases the client's mind about having an animal’s sole purpose of living being to serve humans. Even for camels, who are domesticated animals similar to horses, there still aren’t that many guidelines or laws to prevent abuse or mistreatment.
However, the sad truth is: many people still partake in this unethical practice, where animals are overused and exhausted from working at such extreme rates.
If you want to take a lesson for horseback riding, I suggest going to a professional instructor, or if you are partaking in a trail ride extravaganza, look for signs that they might be mistreated. Before riding any animal, first and foremost make sure that they look comfortable and calm. Then look at how well-kept they are, the state of their coat, skin, and weight. Look for available food and water for them to eat, and any other signs of mistreatment. Make sure that your instructor is teaching you properly about what to do around them, and stay safe.