Foothills Riding Club talks trail etiquette

Published 8:00 am Friday, May 25, 2018

TRYON — “Big groups would come up here from Spartanburg and throw beer cans on peoples’ property,” said former Foothills Equestrian Trail Association President Dot Moyer.

Moyer spoke at this month’s Foothills Riding Association meeting on the topic of trail etiquette.

“You wouldn’t believe some of the things people will do,” Moyer said. “Everything that is a FETA rule has actually happened. We have so many rules.”

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She continued with stories of people snubbing landowners, yelling at them, picking armloads of their flowers and riding dangerously around other riders and horses. According to Moyer, FETA maintains more than 150 miles of trails, which are owned by more than 200 landowners. They spend $50,000 a year to maintain the trails.

“Because this is a big trail system, some riders think this is public property,” she said. “FETA does not get to say who can ride on that land.”

FETA’s motto is “ride friendly,” Moyer said. She added that people never know if they’re talking with a landowner or not.

“We need to treat landowners like they are a true gift,” she said. “The number one compliant from the landowners is that people are not friendly.”

Moyer gave a list of some of the major rules FETA has, such as  take nothing, pack out everything one brought in, always let others know approaching, pass single file at a walk, sign and turn in all releases before riding on the trails, and clean up the manure from one’s trailer and pack it out.

She said one big problem on the trails is novice riders and green horses on the trials.

“Keep them on your own land until they are prepared and confident,” Moyer said.

In addition to talking about FETA rules, Moyer offered some trial riding safety tips. The biggest and most important was wearing an ATSM/SEI approved helmet at all times when mounted. She also stressed how important proper footwear is for riding safety.

Other safety tips included keeping cell phones on one’s person rather than in a saddle bag, knowing where one is and staying on the marked trails. Moyer suggested the SmartPak “Ride with Me” app for cell phones, and reminded everyone to update their emergency contact information on their phone.

Moyer also opened up the discussion to comments from the floor. Suggestions from the FRC members included taking a halter, lead rope and hoof pick, riding to the level of the least experienced rider and leaving gates the way one found them. Others suggested having the most experienced rider in the group do an equipment check and all members of a group crossing roads together.

“Listen to your horse. Horses are very aware of their surroundings.” Moyer said. “If they spook or stop, look around. They just might keep you out of trouble.”

FRC meets regularly for educational talks, many taking place at the Foothills Equestrian Nature Center. For more information on FRC visit