Self-Defense on the Trail

Some people they carry firearms on the trail. Professionals who teach self-defense say that the likelihood of you being able to successfully unholster your weapon, aim, and fire while dealing with a moving horse and someone is trying to unseat or threaten you is low. Their recommendation is to carry wasp spray in an arm band and use that instead. It fires a very directed spray up to 20 feet (unlike pepper spray which discharges a broad field and can drift into you and your horse) and is legal in all states. Practice using it by firing on helium balloons tied to a fence rail. Aim for the eyes. You can also spray back and forth if there is more than one threat, something else you cannot do with a handgun.

If you can attend a self-defense clinic, do so. Many of the techniques are covered in de-spooking clinics, which are also valuable for anyone who trail rides. Bill Ritchey is a retired mounted police officer who, among other things, trains horses that patrol Mardi Gras and has successfully competed in national mounted obstacle course competitions. His weekend-long, de-spooking clinics include training in self-defense on the trail.

Several videos:

Mike Hughes on YouTube:

Demonstration by Eddie Rodriguez 2012 North American Trail Ride Conference. This is an online article with a video within the story. The audio is difficult to hear, but the video demonstration is good. (A podcast by John Harrer with advice and techniques.)

This video demonstrates some of the techniques taught at a self-defense clinic Harrer arranged.


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