Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Hindsight

Sorry for the graphic picture, but I need you to be my hindsight.

Once my horses get more experience on the trails, I want to relieve my family members of the job of helping me stay safe. I want to find other trail riders to ride with in my community. I put together the following ad, and planned to post it on bulletin boards at the local feed stores:

"ATTENTION: TRAIL RIDERS

Forming a small group of horse owners to trail ride together locally.

No fees, no meetings, no fund raising, no social obligations... JUST RIDING.

This is for those of us who work long hours and who just want to ride with some friends when we have a little spare time. Ride at your own risk. Each person is responsible for his/her own liability. The idea is to form a list of people to call when you'd like some support or company while riding your horse. Call..."

I have been hesitant to post the ad for a variety of reasons. First of all, I've been working such long hours that I desperately need my rest, and don't want to have to deal with the phone ringing either during the day while I'm working or in the evening when I'm trying to sleep. Secondly, because I've been working such long hours, I never know if I can follow through and actually go on a trail ride. I can't seem to plan anything. When I do get to ride, it is usually a last-minute decision based upon me getting an unexpected break from work.

Thirdly, and this is where you come in, I worry that I may be opening a can of worms. I really don't need anymore problems right now. I feel like I am setting myself up for hassles by starting this. I don't know what they will be, but I can just feel them lurking on the horizon.

For instance, what if a really annoying person wants to trail ride with me? Worse yet, what if a really annoying person who does stupid, dangerous things and who can't control her horse wants to trail ride with me? What if someone does something stupid that causes someone else to get hurt, and I get sued for it because I organized the trail riding group? I stuck the clause about liability in the ad, but I don't know if it would hold up in court.

What kind of problems have you run into on trail rides? What can I do to prevent such problems? I guess the worst part is that this is a big unknown for me, so if my readers can give me an idea of what to expect, maybe I can be better prepared. Thanks in advance for your thoughts.

13 comments:

Mary Olson said...

I'm going to be anxiously waiting to see what kind of answers you get to your question because I have thought about doing the same thing. I have been looking for a group of easy going, fun women to ride with for 7 years and have never found them. This year I gave up and just started hauling and trail riding alone. It's been wonderful and I keep kicking myself for not doing so sooner. But it is risky riding alone. Generally, I run into other people riding so I don't feel like there's no one out there to call an ambulance if I need one.

Vaquerogirl said...

You are wise to NOT post your ad, although I know of a few people around here that have found riding buddies that way. I don't know about any liability- but just not knowing who you are riding with- their level of experience, the craziness factor- would make me pause.
Could you join a local riding club instead, and make a few friends, scope their horsemanship skills out- then invite them to ride with you?

Jessie said...

My experience with organized trail rides has been good. I belong to a saddle club that started out as just a few women who wanted company on the trail. It has gone from 5 or 6 women to over 50 members.

There have been wrecks on the trail, but no one blames the group for them. You ride at your own risk. Things just happen and the group can't be held accountable for them. This is understood.

The group is large enough that when a trail ride is held, instead of going all out together we split into smaller groups. That way you can pick and choose who your ride with. If you want to go fast you can ride with fast riders, if you have a green horse you can ride with an experienced horse, if you have a gaited horse you can ride with other gaited horses and so on.... There are perks to having a large network of riders.

If you get enough interest, maybe you could start a club, and then hand the reins over to someone with the time to organize it. Just an idea :-)

Maybe when you move, you can come to Wisconsin and join our group. We'd love to have you!

lytha said...

wow, you are really in a predicament.

normally you meet people by simply riding, and running into them, but you are so busy, and on your rides you are with your family often, so it must be hard for you to go out there and meet up.

i do not know whether you should place the flyer or not....that is difficult. i worry about the crazies out there too. i know you are leery of the clubs cuz of the endless meetings meetings meetings.

is there a popular trail head where you could hang out on a saturday morning and hope to bump into riders starting out, and talk to them? i guess, isn't it odd, how leery we are of people without horses, and how confident we are when the person simply has a horse? so maybe you could bring a "prop" horse and just hang around the trailhead, and meet people.

i am seriously considering running after people on horses as they ride by my house, just to introduce myself and say, hey! ride with me!

i wish you luck.

lytha

Katharine Swan said...

Maybe it's just me, but I got a kick out of the graphic picture. Bombay could teach all of us a thing or two about flexibility!

Perhaps what you should do is rephrase the ad to say that you're considering looking for some trail riding buddies, and ask for anyone interested to contact you for more details. Then you can back out if it doesn't feel right. Also, by phrasing it as "looking for trail buddies" rather than "starting a group" you don't sound as liable.

Other suggestions: Only make email available at first. Don't put your number out there, it's just not a good idea. Save all emails, and always state in your initial email to respondants that you are looking for experienced trail riders, and that everyone is responsible for themselves and their own horses. Emails suffice as written contracts, so if anything happens you can say, "Hey, I said experienced riders only, and that everyone was responsible for themselves. Furthermore, it's not an organized group, we're just friends."

Finally, be sure to meet with people before you set up a trail ride. I'd suggest arranging a meet-up once you have a few names, so that you can meet everyone, and then another meet-up with horses in somewhere slightly more controlled, such as the arena at the fairgrounds, so that you can get an idea of people's abilities to control their horses.

Remember to think of it as finding trail buddies, NOT starting a group, and as a possible thing. That way you can back out at any time, and if you're not in charge of the group, you can make a better case that you're not liable.

Alternatively, and perhaps a better solution for you since you're so busy, you could advertise that you're looking for ONE other person to ride with. Still meet with them, be sure you like them, and ride with them in an arena so you can see how they do. It'll just be much less work with one person, rather than several.

Those are my suggestions, anyway. Just, no matter what you do, I highly recommend corresponding by email to begin with, and saving a paper trail that demonstrates everyone understands that they alone hold responsibility for themselves!

Leah Fry said...

I think you are safe because they would be riding their own horses, and you aren't taking any money. But I know nothing of the law and you can't underestimate our litigious society.

Mrs Mom said...

NM- I am more asleep now than awake, (by a lot), but the first thought I had was this: if your gut instinct says now is not the time for you to do this, then listen.

Just my two bits.

Glad the kids were OK the other day. Remember- what comes around goes around, so Drunk Dude will get his.

HorseOfCourse said...

Things can always go wrong.
But to refrain from doing things that might give joy and happiness because they might go wrong will make us miss out on potentially great experiences.
I believe this is a marvellous idea, NuzzMuzz!

I cannot comment about the practicalities as things are different in your part of the world, but go ahead and do it. In one or another form.
I am sure that there are more people like you out there in the same situation.
I am also sure that it might give you some nice rides, and connect you with some nice people!
Yes, you might end up with someone that has problems to control her horse.
But I would take a discussion about that on the phone before starting out. Maybe agree on just keeping it at a walk first time, getting to know each other. Checking out what kind of experience the other riders have, and how long they have had their horses, and being open and clear on what you expect.
Think about if you want some frames around this.
How long? How many? What kind of terrain? What minimum experience on horse and rider?
And maybe put that in the ad too, that way you might exclude some of the not-so-interesting potential companions in advance.

Maybe the most difficult part for you is being able to set a time, and keep it?
I keep my fingers cross that you will get some good responses on this, meet some new friends and have some marvellous rides!
And I look forward to read about them afterwards!

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

Wow! I think everyone covered the spectrum of possibilities. Each comment is so unique, and I agree with all of them. This gives me a lot to think about. Keep the comments coming. Thanks.

Alex said...

I agree with Katharine- e-mail was going to be my first suggestion. I don't know if your computer is steaming from work and you may want to avoid more e-mail... but id go that route first too.

Id be sure you "screen" by meeting in person- maybe a coffee shop at first, with anyone you like over e-mail/phone to chat horses and see if your phylosophies are in synch. I know the point is to meet people and RIDE and this added step will take valuable time, but I think you may get a feeling from people and how/what they talk about that will help you judge how they are with their animals.

I have seen ads like this on our local craigslist... so i know its not unheard of. And as you have it put pretty informally, I think you are safe to suddenly be "too busy" to ride with folks whose animals/handling dont mesh with yours.

Good luck, i say go for it- it might be just what you need to meet people and have some fun! Id ride out with you in a heartbeat if distance didnt seperate us!

Andrea said...

I just got back form Colorado!! And all we did up there was trail ride in some of the most beautiful mountains I have ever been in!! We rode around and all I thought of was how much I would love to do this at home. Heck, I have my own horses.

So, now that I am home, all I need are some trail broke horses!! LOL!! I would love to sign up for your "NOT CLUB" trail riders group. Only, it might take me a while to get there!!

I think if you go out on a trail ride and someone is really weird or stupid, and you don't really know them to begin with then it won't hurt their feelings to tell them.

Or maybe you guys could meet the day before or chat over the phone and kinda get things laid out in the open. Because really you don't want to be trail riding with someone else who has a spooky crazy horse.

So, I would just keep an eye out for the crazies. Normally you can spot them from a mile away!!

Horseypants said...

My thoughts are 1. look for a group that already exists 2. post the ad to start your own group, but not with your phone number or email. Create an email account such as coordinator@trailclub.com for this purpose.

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Wow! Bombay sure is flexible! And what a cute rump he has, too.

If you have any reservations at all, I think you should WAIT to post that ad. You should be excited and looking forward to group trail rides and meeting new friends and horse back riders. If you have any trepidations, it's wise to be cautious. You seem like you have so much on your plate right now anyway, maybe you can wait a little longer until things smooth out in your life and schedule?

Hang in there, my friend.

~Lisa