​Service and Therapy Dogs as Relates to Tucson Saddle Club Trail Rides

​Tucson Saddle Club trail ride rules prohibit dogs to accompany riders on trail rides.  This rule was recently challenged  by a rider stating that "HIPPA" law permitted them to bring their therapy dog on the ride, and to run along with them.  The club has researched this issue by reviewing American Disability Act (ADA) law, and consulting with the National Forest Service and National Park Service for their understanding and application of the law.

The research confirms that ADA law [and Arizona law] :

  • Only applies to Service Dogs, and not Therapy Dogs or other types of Emotional Support Dogs.
  • ​A service animal (dogs and, in some cases, mini horses) is trained to perform specific tasks to help a person with their disability (visual and hearing impairments, diabetic alert and seizure response, bracing, etc.) By Federal law, a service dog is not considered a pet. They are allowed access to public places as an accommodation for the person with the disability.
  • therapy animal is typically someone’s pet. With their handler, they visit in many types of facilities but do not have public access privileges like service animals.
  • The ADA requires that service animals be under the control of the handler at all times.
  • The ADA does not require covered entities to modify policies, practices, or procedures if it would “fundamentally alter” the nature of the goods, services, programs, or activities provided to the public.  Nor does it overrule legitimate safety requirements.

In light of the above, Tucson Saddle Club trail ride rules will continue to prohibit dogs of any sort accompanying riders on our trail rides.

See supporting documentation for this rule at the following links:

  • From the ADA web site at: https://www.ada.gov/regs2010/service_animal_qa.html#exc.
  • Arizona law on Service Dogs at: https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/arizona-laws-on-service-dogs-and-emotional-support-animals.html.​​

Tucson Saddle Club Trail Ride Rules​

​A Tucson Saddle Club Ride is intended to be a SAFE and ENJOYABLE experience for all participants. Rides are organized and controlled pleasure rides, not competitive or endurance rides. Courtesy among all riders is expected. Failure to comply with the rules may be cause for dismissal from the ride. Any questions applicable to the ride regarding safety of horses and/or riders will be answered by the Ride Leader, whose decision is final. The Ride Leader and assistants will give aid if any problems arise. Have a fun and safe ride with your friends of the Tucson Saddle Club. 

1. Riders under 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian at all times. 
2. Riders must stay with the group, behind the Ride Leader and in front of the Drag Rider at all times. 
3. Keep a horse length behind the horse in front of you. This will keep you from being kicked and keep your horse from stepping on the heels of the horse in front of you. Known kickers should have a red ribbon on their tails. 
4. When passing, do so at a slightly faster walk. Tell the person you are passing that you are going to pass. 
5. Horses will be kept at a walk unless approved by the Ride Leader. 
6. If someone has to stop anywhere on the trail, inform the Ride Leader or the Drag Rider. The whole group should stop. At this time the Ride Leader will decide to either wait until the rider is ready to proceed, or to continue on, leaving the disabled rider with the Drag Rider. 7. Alcoholic drinks are not allowed on the trail. 
8. Riders in possession of firearms are permitted on T.S.C. rides only when in compliance with current laws. 
9. No littering on trails or in camp. Smoking material must be discarded in your own fire-safe container. Depending on fire hazard conditions, smoking may be confined to breaks. 
10. No dogs are allowed on the trails - dogs in camp must be kept contained or on a leash. 
11. Stallions are not allowed on T.S.C. rides. 
12. Bosal, mechanical hackamore, side-pull hackamore, or some type of headstall are required on all horses. 
13. Saddles are required on rides, no bareback riders or bareback pads are permitted. 
14. No horses will be ponied. No loose horses are allowed on the trail or in camp. 
15. No horses will be permitted around tables or where food is being prepared or eaten. 
16. Appropriate personal headgear is encouraged and helmets are mandatory for riders under 18 years of age. 
17. Riding double will be the decision of the Ride Leader. 
18. Only the Ride Leader has the authority to cancel a ride. 
19. In the event a rider must leave the group, another rider assigned by the Ride Leader should escort that rider, unless the rider is very familiar with the trail and decides to decline the escort. 
20. Any rider leaving the group without permission of the Ride Leader will no longer be considered part of that trail ride. 

TSC Ride Rating Definitions

​#1 EASIEST:  Flat, smooth, well traveled. Obstacles limited to minor step-ups or step-downs.  Best for beginners.
#2 FAIRLY EASY:  Reasonably smooth, some grade, more ups and downs.  Minor obstacles (shallow water, minor drop-offs, stopovers, etc,); some rocky areas.

#3 MEDIUM DIFFICULTY:  Definite grade, obstacles, rougher terrain, rocks, narrower trails.

#4 DIFFICULT:  Steep, rocky, narrow, major obstacles.  Horse must be trail smart, sure-footed, and sensible around other horses.  There is no room for error on trails of this difficulty.  Horses must be in good condition.

#5 CHALLENGING:  Climbing, rocky and/or shale, difficult hazards (deep water, open mines, quicksand, steep drop-offs etc,), very narrow, steep, little or no room to maneuver.  Rider and horse must be experienced trail riders.  NOT FOR BEGINNERS!​

Ride Leader and Drag Roles

Pre-Ride Responsibilities: Read and agree to uphold the trail rules established by the TSC, including the new rules for Urban Interface High Joint Use Trails. -Familiarize yourself with the trail and be aware of alternate routes if necessary. -Clear the trail or flag it if necessary. -Both lead and drag should be familiar enough with the trail to ride it alone in either direction alone if necessary. -Provide a description with rating, length, whether lunch is included, any obstacles, and saddle time to the editor for publication. 

Before Leaving Camp: -Gather up your folks and introduce yourself and Drag. -Remind people of general rules and to introduce themselves to each other. -Stress the importance of communication, especially if we have a rider down, need pit stops, or are too spread out. -Tell people to be aware of other horses around them and that is each rider’s responsibility to speak up if anyone has anything special needs or considerations (green horse, inseparable buddies, someone getting too close, etc.) and that riders need to stay in sight of each other. 

During the Ride: -BOTH lead and drag should frequently check for riders that may be experiencing difficulty. If you see problems, ask if there is anything that could be done to help them, such as moving next to another horse that may be calmer or first aid. -While everyone signs the waiver and we are not babysitters, safety is our priority. -If someone is breaking the rules, it is up to us to enforce them. Other riders will appreciate it. -Assure that the pace is alright for everyone (normal walk for trail rides unless otherwise noted in the ride description). -ASK someone with a camera to send pics and write up to newsletter editor by the 15th. 

Your “Ride Announcement” needs to be emailed to the newsletter editor by the 15th of the month prior to the ride in order to come out in the next month’s newsletter. You can check the calendar in the newsletter or web site to see if there is something already scheduled on that date. It’s ok to book two rides on the same date as long as they are different types of rides, although we try to get rides spread out throughout the month. Please re-read the TSC Ride Ratings before assigning a rating. Note if there will be a lunch stop or other arrangements about potlucks, camping, etc. The format should look like: 


Ride Time: ____ (in the saddle ready to go), Ride Rated __ (1-5: refer to the TSC ride ratings!), Length:___ (in hours)

Ride Description: (keep it to about one paragraph, noting any “challenges”) 

RSVP (?): you might need to cancel,amount of food, or be in a location requiring advance notice to site managers; Special Rules below.

Directions: (usually given from somewhere along I-10) 

Ride leader: _____________                                                          Drag: ____________ 
(include a phone # for leader and drag)​

Special Rules for
Urban Interface High Joint Use Trails

(also known as Front Country Trails) 

Defined as: Colossal Cave Mountain Park; Catalina State Park; Saguaro National Park (East & West); Sabino Canyon; Tucson Mountain Park; Robles Pass Trail Network; Sweetwater Preserve; and Rincon Valley - Arizona Trail Gabe Zimmermann Trailhead to Loma Alta Trail. 

These new rules were passed by the Tucson Saddle Club Board of Directors in March, 2016 to eliminate incidents of conflict between large saddle club rides and other trail user groups on the above trails such as have recently occurred and have the potential to occur again at any time and cause much damage in our relations with other trail users groups and potentially affect our future access to them. 

1. Ride Leaders when planning rides on these trails are required to make contact with the trail managers/administrators of these trails and ensure there is no conflict with other major events on them on the date the ride is being planned to occur. (A list of contact numbers for these officials is being compiled and will be published along with these rules as soon as available). 

2. When any rides on these trails exceed 15 riders, the ride must be broken into two smaller groups not to exceed 15 riders and maintain a ten minute interval between the two groups throughout the ride. The Drag should become the Ride Leader of the second group and new Drags assigned. If either of the sub-groups exceeds 15 riders, it again must be divided into two sub-groups and maintain a ten minute interval from both other groups. The original Ride Leader should remain with the front group and the original Drag as the Ride Leader with the last group on the ride. (This 15 rider limit in a group is already a requirement by the park on Saguaro National Park trails.)

3. Registration (vice RSVP) for these rides is mandatory and must be accomplished prior to 24 hours before the ride with the Ride Leader to be allowed on the ride. Riders showing up at the ride having failed to do so will not be allowed on the ride. (It is suggested that riders thinking they might go but not sure they can, register anyway; not showing up is less of a problem than showing up not having registered).

​Trail Manager Contact List
Urban Interface High Joint-Use Trails

Trail Ride Leaders are required to contact these trail managers when planning trail rides on the bellow trails and ensure there are no date conflicts with major events on them.

Colossal Cave Mountain Park
 - Brian Held, General Manager; Office: (520) 647-7275, Cell (520) 400-6169; email: bheld@colossalcave.com. 
Saguaro National Park
 - Chief Ranger Ray O'Neil, (520) 733-5110.
Catalina State Park 
- Manager Steve Haas; (520) 628-5798. 
Sabino Canyon 
- Sarah Corning, Manager: (520) 749-7720. 
Mt. Lemmon trails 
- Mindy Lehew, Permit Coordinator Coronado National Park Service; (520) 749-7722. (Note: Mindy says trails east of the highway; i.e. General Hitchcock, Green Mountain, Bug Springs, etc. get heavy use from mountain bike groups on weekends generally and frequently hold major rides with up to 150 riders including on Fridays operating out of Hirabashi and Molino Basin. We would not require a permit of course, but she would be aware of these major bike events.) 
Tucson Mountain Park trails, Sweetwater Preserve, & Robles Junction Trail 
- Mark Brosseau, Tucson Mountain Park Manager; (520) 724-5187; email: mark.brosseau@pima.gov. 
Arizona Trail, Gabe Zimmermann trailhead to Loma Alta trailhead 
- Go Arizona Trail Association website: www.aztrail.org, click on "Event Calendar" button (upper right side of screen on Home page); select appropriate month on calendar (upper left corner of calendar); check date planning ride and look for any conflicts on that date​.