What To Know Before You Hit the Trails on Horseback

It’s the old Western cliche: to ride off into the sunset on a noble, galloping steed.

Riding Horses

Horses await riders to head out on the trails

This scene gets used over and over again. It is freedom. The cowboy sits atop a wild animal, taking off into the wilderness to who-knows-where.
In many cultures, the swift dash of an unbridled horse represents a free spirit. As they pound their hooves against the dirt, kicking it up behind them, their powerful muscles whisk them, and us, away from reality for just a moment. For that moment, you are going just to go, and nothing else matters.
And a horse doesn’t have to be galloping full-speed to ignite wonder in a rider. A simple trail trot atop a horse can make you feel attuned to the nature around you, until you lose yourself in it for a minute.
Thinking about hitting the trail? The New River Gorge has tons of stables full of sweet steeds chomping at the bit to nuzzle you and invite you aboard.
Here’s what you need to know before you go:

Get a Guide

Find an experienced guide to take you out, even if you’re an expert rider. (They’ll know the best trails with scenic views of the Gorge.)

Opt for a Sunset Ride

Not only can you live the movie scene, you’ll also get a beautiful view you’ll never forget! Get really in touch with nature enjoying the evening colors fade to dark and the stars dot the sky alongside your companion animal.

Get to Know Your Horse

Listen to any particular instructions about your horse. Each one has its own personality, and you’ll get to know each other along the ride. But your guide will be able to help you start the friendship off on the right foot with tips about what your horse likes or doesn’t like. Feel free to ask questions!

Dress Appropriately

Wear long pants, boots or close-toed shoes and clothing that will be comfortable to move in (and that will stay put while you ride.)

Soothe Your Steed

Horses can be skittish. Speak in a calm, low voice, and try not to spook your horse with sudden movements and sounds, or your own nervousness.
Now you’re ready to hop in the saddle (or at least to start learning about safety from your riding guide!)
What are you looking forward to about your horseback riding adventure?