Want to do competitive trail riding...

Discussion in 'Horse Training' started by Ranger’s Roheryn, Oct 2, 2018.

  1. Ranger’s Roheryn

    Ranger’s Roheryn Full Member

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2018
    Messages:
    46
    Likes Received:
    13
    I’m a fairly new rider who is still learning:) My goal for my horse and I is trail riding. Are there ways I can sort of prepare him for that kind of training? I’m working on desensitizing him in various ways. I know some of you trail-riders out there can give me advice. :)
     
  2. lucky_pine

    lucky_pine Senior Member

    Joined:
    May 31, 2005
    Messages:
    12,344
    Likes Received:
    14,130
    Get out and do it. Find a group that likes to ride, really ride, and go every chance you get.You want a group that does more than plod the trail and drink beer (which is about all I've got around here) Find one that'll explore and do all gaits. You can prep all you want in the arena, things change when you're out on the trail and being faced with legitimate obstacles.
     
  3. bellalou

    bellalou Senior Member

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2014
    Messages:
    7,506
    Likes Received:
    22,994
    Yup, totally agree with this. The absolute best desensitizing you'll find is on the trails. Just because your horse sees a bicycle or an umbrella in an arena doesn't mean he'll react the same on a trail. Get out with other people and just ride. You'll encounter animals, obstacles, rough country, people on bikes, all kinds of things that will make your horse a better and more confident mount.

    When I first got horses, I didn't have anywhere to ride except on trails. By the time I had a stable to ride at, my horses were so used to riding all over creation that they never blinked an eye when I brought them to parades or shows or clinics. Trail riding is great for both of you and it's my all-time favorite thing to do on a horse.
     
    Ranger’s Roheryn likes this.
  4. manesntails

    manesntails Senior Member

    Joined:
    May 21, 2010
    Messages:
    37,510
    Likes Received:
    71,914
    First he needs to be broke correctly, and when he is, then you go on group rides. He's got be slowly conditioned to do longer rides, cooled out properly .learn to ride in every position in the group without fussing, and willingly lead the group or follow behind.
     
  5. Ranger’s Roheryn

    Ranger’s Roheryn Full Member

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2018
    Messages:
    46
    Likes Received:
    13
    Sounds like a plan...I have a friend who wants to start riding with me regularly. Which will be different because I’ve never ridden with anyone. Wondering what my guy will think...he hasn’t seen another horse in awhile:-P

    Thank you all!!
     
  6. slc

    slc Senior Member

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2004
    Messages:
    23,802
    Likes Received:
    14,444
    Competitive Trail Riding is a long, long ways away as yet. The horse needs months and months of gradual conditioning for that.

    First comes trail riding. And trail riding is great, but first, you need to be able to control the horse in a smaller area, like a paddock or riding arena. So, if you can't stop, go and turn easily and promptly when you want to, if you can't walk, trot and canter under control in a smaller area, it's not safe for you to go out on the trail yet. If your horse is 'green' (not much past the 'getting used to a rider sitting on him' stage of training), you also need to stay in the ring until you have basic control.

    Even if the horse has been out on trails before, you need to be able to control the horse in a ring before you go down trail.

    That doesn't mean riding in the ring or being in control in the ring will make everything always go perfectly on the trail, especially if you just toodle around in the ring rather than do 'horse control exercises' (like staying in a walk when another horse canters off in front of you, or staying halted while another horse gallops past you).

    A very, very simple 'horse control' exercise in the ring is slowing down when you're going towards the barn or gate, and speeding up when you're going away from the barn or gate. Picking up a canter as you go AWAY from the barn, and going back to a walk after you turn TOWARD the barn. Riding a 'round' circle, not one that's cut off on the side farther from the barn. Riding all the way down the rail away from the barn, and not cutting the corner off. Riding all the way down the rail as you go TOWARD the barn, but doing it at a slow trot, not letting the horse go faster and faster. Not letting the horse slow down or stop at the gate (or right after you pass it, a point at which many horses turn back toward the gate or balk).

    Many here will say the ONLY place you can do ANYTHING to train for trail riding is out on the trail, and that's not true, but as I said, just toodling around a ring won't do anything for you. A lot can be done in the ring, but the person needs to be taught those exercises and practice them.

    But in fact, being able to ride in control in a small area, is often a 'test' the person has to pass before he is allowed to ride down trail, in barns that have more supervision.

    Out on the trail, the horse can still see unfamiliar things and spook or run, the horse can still turn and run back to the barn when you've gone farther from the barn than he wants to go, and he can still be fine until you ask him to extract his nose from the tail of the horse in front of you, and join a different group or turn away from the group.

    The thing is that many people go too soon to trail riding, and don't realize they don't have control out on the trail, until 'something happens.' What very often happens with trail riding, is that your horse is just following another horse, rather than really responding to you as the rider. When something goes wrong - say, the rider ahead of you falls off and his horse starts running - you find out you really don't have the control over your horse.

    So it's very important to practice horse control in the ring, though that doesn't mean you won't have 'horse control' situations out on the trail.
     
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2018
    Ranger’s Roheryn likes this.

Share This Page