Trail Etiquette

OCTS Trail Etiquette

The golden rule of the OCTS is to ride on others’ property as if it were your own. We rely on the graciousness of our participating landowners, without whom we have nothing. But of course there are rules of etiquette, which we cover here.

1. Know the route you are going to take and be familiar with your route alternatives BEFORE YOU START OUT! If you need to, print out the relevant trail map first.

2. IF you are invited to park on a landowner’s property before embarking on a trail ride, when done you must remove all waste and take it with you, including manure, bedding/shavings and trash from the trailer site.

3. Follow the OCTS signage on the trails and property. Many landowners may wish members to avoid certain areas on their property and it’s your obligation to respect these wishes.

4. Both the trail maps and the OCTS signage at points of ingress to the property will indicate whether hikers and/or ATV’s are permitted on this land. Unless you see such on the OCTS signage, assume they are NOT permitted on such property.

5. Use common sense when and when not to ride. If the climactic and/or ground conditions are such that riding will cause damage to the ground on which you would like to ride, DON’T RIDE! No participating landowner wants his/her land damaged.

6. Please set a good example and wear appropriate safety gear such as helmets when riding.

7. If any landowner asks you to identify yourself, pleasantly do so. If a landowner feels that persons other than members and their accompanied guests are using the OCTS trails, it’s easy to understand why he/she would withdraw his/her property from the program. By the way, if you can, say “Thanks” to that landowner.

8. DOGS. You may take your dogs with you onto properties that permit them, which will be indicated on the trail maps and by signage at points of ingress to the property which indicate whether dogs are permitted on this property. Unless you see such information on the OCTS signage, assume they are NOT permitted on such property. In any event, your dogs must be under your control at all times and if you have any doubts, please leave them home.

9. No smoking while on trail.

10. In general, walking or trotting your horse is fine, cantering is acceptable (if common sense tells you the ground can take it), but do NOT gallop on any property unless you have the specific permission of that particular landowner to do so. Slow way down if and when passing other riders or riding along a fenceline behind which are livestock or other horses.

11. If your route crosses a closed gate, be sure to close that gate after you go through it. This is particularly so if the gate confines pastured livestock. If it was open, leave it open. If you knock down a fence rail, please replace it.

12. Unless signage directs you otherwise, avoid going through hayfields – use the perimeters. If you are going through an area with pastured livestock, slow down to a walk and give the livestock a wide berth. NEVER enter a fenced-in area containing other horses.

13. If you see that a path is becoming worn and rutting has started, move a few feet to the right or left.

14. Anyone using the trails during the Fauquier County hunting season should wear a blaze jacket or vest easily distinguishable to hunters. The deer season in Fauquier runs generally from early November to the end of March (see for exact dates. Please also consult trail maps to see if and which properties are CLOSED to OCTS riders and guests during the hunting season. Lastly, if you encounter a hunter, promptly move out of his way but at a pace no faster than a quick walk. If you notice hunting on property where you believe hunters are trespassing, contact the Landowner Chairman.

15. If you see a dangerous hole or other obstruction, please mark it with rocks, sticks or flags and contact the Landowner Chairman after your ride is finished.

16. If by some chance you damage any property, stop and let the landowner know. Obviously, you are responsible financially for any damages you cause. Likewise, if you see any existing property damage, broken fences, downed livestock, etc., please notify the landowner, who might not be aware.

17. NEVER allow your horse to come into contact with other horses, be they the horses of other riders or horses on landowners’ property. Such contact could result in the spread of disease or the danger of horses kicking. If your horse is sick, don’t take it onto our trails.

18. If you see others in distress on the trails, please stop to help. We encourage everyone riding to at least stop and introduce themselves to others using the trails, though this doesn’t apply to hunters, who deserve their privacy.

19. If you observe anyone violating this etiquette, please contact the Membership Chairman.