Riders of all disciplines and diverse riding goals enjoy riding outside the arena. Adding trails to your barn property can be a benefit to existing clients and offer a competitive advantage for horse owners searching for a new barn.
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Mowing a path around the perimeter of the property is an easy start with little investment. However, most trails require a bit more work and require planning for the best outcome.
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Here are a few tips to get started:
- Start small. “You can start with a loop (around the perimter of your largest field); you do not need miles of trails or lots of acreage,” said Holley Groshek, executive director of The Equestrian Land Conservation Resource (ELCR).
- Learn what type of trails clients want. For some riders, having flat, wide trails with easy access is their preference. Others want challenging situations such as varied terrain, water crossings and other natural features.
- Work with the topography of your land. Avoid cutting trails through sloping areas on your property as they could become slippery in wet weather.
- Talk with neighboring landowners. “Ask if they may be willing to open up private land to expand the length of trails,” she suggested.
- Consider partnerships. Barbara Bouck, who owns Salmon River Stables in Altmar, New York, worked with local snowmobilers to add additional trails to her property without having to do the work herself. “The snowmobile club asked if they could clear a two-mile-long path by chopping down trees so they could connect back up with the public trails,” she said. “They cleared it out, made a beautiful path and it added to my horse trails. Plus, we got all the firewood they cut down.”
Basic trails can be created with a little planning and some basic tools. More advanced trail systems that cross acres of land need a more thoughtful approach. Trail Design for Small Properties from the University of Minnesota is a one online resource that’s available. Connect with local or regional trail riding groups for their advice as well.
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