Picnic Areas on Your Equine Trails

Add "destinations" to the horse trails on your property by designing picnic areas with pens, high lines or hitching rails.
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Creating some picnic areas can encourage riders to use your trails. Offering hitching rails, high lines or pens for horses might make the area more attractive for use.

Horse riding trails can provide hours of fun. Adding picnic areas to your trail system can extend the length of time a rider enjoys the scenery and give him or her a "destination" to ride to. Riders can be hesitant to stop along trails, but doing so teaches their horses patience and can encourage new skills for riders.

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To encourage users to stop, adding picnic areas with places for riders to safely tie their horses is important. A high line with loops or rings keeps horses away from the trees and prevents them from eating the bark. A sturdy hitching rail is another option for offering places for riders to take a break.

Look for areas with unique views or interesting terrain to give users an enjoyable reason to stop. Choose places that are away from steep drop-offs or dense areas to keep both horse and rider safe.

Many property owners limit trail use to boarders who already have a stall back in the barn. However, if you decide to allow outside riders to use the trail system, they might want to stay overnight or have access to a pen to keep horses safe without tying them. Make sure you have signed waivers for boarders and outsiders.

Barbara Bouck operates Salmon River Stables in Altmar, New York. She limits trail use to boarders or guided rides by appointment. She also runs the Salmon River Horse Park, an approved International Mountain Trail Challenge Association (IMTCA) obstacle course on her 200-acre property. For those events, she offers users primitive camping and allows portable pens.

“It’s a primitive camp site. We allow overnight campers and generators and allow people to use the corrals they tie to the side of their trailer, or we rent out stalls,” she said.

On the obstacle trail course side of her business, she is also focused on enhancing the natural landscape to give riders opportunities to take stunning photos with their phone or cameras.

“Our goal this year is to make cute little pockets of park benches under pine trees so if people want to take pictures or selfies, they can sit down and have a great backdrop,” she said.

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