University of Vermont AAHS

Volcano National Park Trail Ride Sets Standard for Pre-ride Preparation

Jan Dawson
President, AAHS

[reproduced from Caution:Horses,Vol. 5, No. 1, Spring 2000]

See volcanoes by horseback! This is the promise of Hau’oli Trails of Hau’oli Lani Ranch in Volcano, Hawai’i. The proprietor, U’ilani Domingo, successfully completed a AAHS clinic in Hilo, Hawaii and presented the most extensive pre-ride preparation seen at a clinic.

The preparation begins with a thorough telephone interview in which the booking agent determines age, weight, riding history as well as providing the potential customer with rules of the ride itself such as "guided only," "minors must be accompanied by a parent," and required riding attire. Various levels of ride are offered and this is discussed in advance.

Where Hau’oli Trails departs from the all-too-frequently minimal pre-ride preparation is with a complete description of the on-site orientation. Guests are asked to arrive 40 minutes before the scheduled ride time. They then receive instruction in the Nature of the Horse, a demonstration of mounting, Secure Seat(sm) alignment, use of the safety helmet, and are informed that they will be given a skills test to determine that each rider will be able to adequately manage his mount throughout the ride. All this is explained on the phone prior to booking the reservation.

Prior to trailering to the park the wranglers perform various preparations and checks from weather to the first equipment check, following a specific list. Once at the park wranglers check guests’ attire, the age of minors and make sure each minor has a parent along. Waivers are reviewed section by section before signing. Payments are collected and guests’ "carry-portables" are placed in saddle bags.

After the "Nature of the Horse" talk guests are mounted and the demonstrations and skills tests are given.

Ms Domingo is a AAHS clinician candidate and can be reached at Hau’oli Lani Ranch, PO Box 630, Volcano, Hawai’i, 96785

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