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Hayride Safety Procedures

What are the best steps to take when planning a hayride?


Fall brings a whole new season of fun activities—apple picking, pumpkin carving, bonfires, and hayrides. However, as with every activity, safety procedures must be in place. Below, I will explain the best steps to take when planning a hayride. A hayride, when not planned for, can be a dangerous thing. For example, instances, where children have bounced out of a wagon and been injured, are common. Make sure you reduce your risk by following these steps.

1. Obtain the right insurance.

Many people are under-insured when it comes to liability insurance. Before you even consider having a hayride, call your agent to make sure your liability insurance covers a hayride.

2. Plan the route.

A large part of hayride safety is planning the route the ride will take. Make sure to identify any hazards such as steep inclines, overhead branches, sharp turns, uneven ground, soft soil, wires, or irrigation heads. If possible, completely avoid these hazards. If some are not avoidable, take the necessary steps to make sure to keep people safe.

In addition, make sure that the route is clearly marked by flags, fences, or barricades. This will ensure that nobody wanders into the path of the tractor and that guests load onto the wagon one at a time. 

3. Prepare the equipment.

Before the hayride, make sure you put thought into the equipment you will be using. The tractor used should be equipped with a Rollover Protective Structure and should be appropriately sized to handle the loaded wagon without any issues. To avoid any problems, the tractor should be serviced before running any hayrides. 

The wagon is another area of consideration. Having a wagon with solid and high railings will help ensure everyone stays safely inside. In addition, the straw should be dry, as wet straw could be a slip hazard. 

4. Communicate with those helping.

Anyone playing a part in running the hayride should be on the same page. Written rules and procedures should be typed, printed and distributed to everyone helping. In some cases, it might be helpful to have walkie-talkies to communicate during the ride. In addition, everyone helping should be trained for their specific role.

  • Driver(s): The driver(s) should be trained in operating the tractor being used. Make sure they know to drive slow, start and stop smoothly and take corners slowly. It is also helpful if they drive the route before the first hayride. (No spontaneous detours allowed)
  • Loading & Unloading Helpers: Make sure these individuals know to load and unload guests one at a time and to communicate the hayride safety rules while doing so. It is also important to have someone available who is experienced in first aid and is able to use a fire extinguisher. In case there are any injuries, this person will be available. 

5. Post necessary instructions.

As mentioned above, it is important to communicate hayride safety rules to guests. The best way to do this is by having the driver read the rules before the hayride begins. However, it is also necessary to post these rules near the loading and unloading zone. Here are some examples of important rules to have:

  • Minimum age/height for riding alone (All those that don’t meet these guidelines must ride on an adults lap.)
  • Load and unload one person at a time
  • All arms and legs kept in the wagon at all times
  • Remain seated while the wagon is moving
  • Adult to child ratio
  • No walking on hay bales
  • No children seated near the back of the wagon
  • No horseplay 
  • No smoking
  • No lighters
  • No flash cameras
  • No laser pointers
  • No food or drink
  • No alcohol

6. Have fun.

“If we fail to prepare we prepare to fail.”

E.B. Gregory

Safety planning is the best way to ensure that everyone attending your hayride has an enjoyable time. For more information, consult this hayride safety checklist from the National Children’s Center for Rural and Agricultural Health and Safety. 

If you have any additional questions or would like to make sure you have adequate insurance, do not hesitate to contact us at 317-253-1155 or