Part etiquette and part safety, there are certain guidelines which all equestrian travelers are encouraged to abide by. This helps to insure you have the best possible experience!
1. DO be truthful about your riding ability (to your guide, your group, or even to yourself). The horse(s) assigned to you is based on your ability and experience, as is the pace we set as a group, so remember to be realistic. Whether you used to be an A-circuit competitor or a fearless youngster who rode bareback and bridleless, if that's not who you are anymore as a rider, one trip won't bring that ability back. This applies to your fitness level as well: DO get in shape for your ride. On most trips, we will be riding almost every day for at least several hours, and you want to be up to the task, not sore and tired at the end of the day. A fit rider is also easier on your horse. Fitness and ability are two different criteria, and even talented riders must stay in shape. We want you to have the best possible ride that suits YOU, not the rider you used to be, wish you were, or would like to become.
2. DO be courteous to other riders. Someone else may ride at a different level, come from a different background, or speak another language, but we're all brought together by our love for horses. Be courteous when in the saddle; don't crowd other horses, keep a horse length behind the horse in front of you, and only ride side-by-side when space allows you to do so safely. Remember though, even when we aren’t riding, we are all on this adventure together for the duration, so please be on your best behavior.
3. DO tell your guide when you're uncomfortable. Whether your boots are giving you blisters, your saddle is pinching somewhere, or your horse is more work than fun and perhaps isn't a suitable mount, we can't help you unless you tell us, and we want to help you. This is your trip!
4. DO pack the correct equipment. Obviously, traveling with saddles and tack is cumbersome and inconvenient, and therefore not required, but do bring your own boots and helmet, above all else. Even though guides and providers may have extra equipment, nothing fits as well as your own gear. This also allows you to make yourself the most comfortable: if you're going on a safari, bring breathable breeches, and maybe a sun shade for your helmet. If you're riding for long hours, bring a padded seat cover if it would make you more comfortable.
5. DO always, always, ALWAYS follow your guide’s instructions. We give directions for good reasons, like safety and what's best for the group as a whole. Make sure you are paying close attention.
6. DON’T be late. Trips follow a certain itinerary, and in many cases we are under a deadline to reach a destination before sunset, or before it gets too hot. Delaying the group departure also makes everyone else have to wait.
7. DON’T travel without travel insurance, or at least coverage from your regular provider which covers incidents that occur while traveling. Anything can happen when you travel, and since horses, climate, and so many other factors are unpredictable, make sure you are insured, especially in case of a riding accident.
8. DON’T get so hung up on getting that perfect photo, Instagram shot, or selfie, that you miss the moment. Some of the best things just can’t be captured on a screen. Especially on horseback, please don’t even put yourself in a position where your hands are too busy with your camera/phone/tablet to have sufficient control over your horse.
9. DON'T exchange currency at the airport, where you will receive the worst exchange rates. Go to your bank or use your ATM card, or change currency before you leave.
10. DON’T forget to tip your guides. A lot of planning, research, and effort goes into making your experience the best it can possibly be.
Above all else, DO be open-minded. Every trip, every horse, and every group of riders is different. When a group of strangers are riding unfamiliar horses, sometimes things happen. Sometimes, though, they're wonderful things, and you'll walk away from the experience with great friends, lots of laughs, and memories to last a lifetime.