Originally Posted by sorrel Thoroughbreds View Post
Can I get tips for riding next to a road where cars go? I ride western and Rusty does have shoes. I do where a helmet. Rusty used to be a parade horse and trail horse.
I've been riding roads since 1972. Not sure exactly what you're wanting to know.
Are you wanting to know how to get a horse ready to deal with traffic or physically ready? Based on your comment "next to a road" I'd guess you're worried about traffic, but I'll cover the whole picture since if you do many road miles you'll spend time on the pavement too (bridges, towns, no shoulders, etc....)
Physical road time is the easiest to prepare for (isn't as dependent on the horse's attitude), but can take more time.
1. Lose the shoes. Shod horses have the least traction so for the purpose of reducing the odds of slipping/sliding/etc... you horse is better off unshod (not to mention it's healthier for they feet since they can expand naturally and will get significantly better blood flow and making it a little easier on their heart).
2. Since your horse has been shod it's feet are not going to be conditioned to the paved surface, but you can change that by spending time each day spending time riding on the road. It takes time, but as you continue to do this the feet will toughen up and become conditioned to the hard, unforgiving surface.
3. If you're in a hurry and don't want to spend the time conditioning the feet before doing a lot of miles I'd suggest getting boots. Still spend part of the time riding on pavement without the boots, but you can put them on as needed (of just stay to the side of the road more by restricting your rides to areas where you ride on pavement by choice vs where you're forced to spend miles at a time on pavement). Ultimately, if you take the time to get them conditioned up you can ride pretty much anywhere.
Like humans, horses are individuals. You'll find horses will run the complete spectrum of possibilities. Scared of everything that comes down the road, ok with cars, but nothing else, only scared of motorcycles and mopeds, only scared of log trucks, or any possible combination you can think of for any possible vehicle encounter (e.g. Ok with one car, but spokes over two). Some horses will be scared of bicycles while others couldn't care less.
A bit over simplified, but it comes down to the horse being accustom to(and ok with) the variety of traffic and/or being willing to trust your decision more than it's fear. Some horses pick up on riding the roads overnight. Others can take forever (or so it will seem).
The more skittish the horse is over traffic the greater the risk. For a risky horse you might want to start out just being near the traffic, but not next to the road so the horse can get use to the noise and seeing the variety of vehicles zoom by. I can be a long process and going through every potential step you might want to try could become exceedingly lengthy to write out.
You said the horse was used for parades so it should be ok with some traffic I would think. You might like to try smaller, less used, secondary roads that only have the random car and perhaps pickup truck on them to get a feel for how the horse will do. Starting out by leading them along the road is another, potentially safer (for you) way of allow them to encounter the traffic and for you to make an assessment of how they do.
Some safety rules for the road.
Just as with a bicycle always ride with traffic (usually). It's the safest thing (and the law in most state unless you live in Colorado where for some reason the law says you have to ride against traffic). Reason it's safer is that when a horse spokes it will want to run away from the object of it's fear. I you are moving with traffic it will take off in that direction. If you're going against traffic it will try to turn and run away which will usually result in part of the horse extending into the road and because of the direction the automobile will have less space/time to react. Moving with traffic the horse will not need to turn. Also moving with the traffic, even if the horse moves into the road it still allow more space and time for the driver to react, because, like a bicycle, the movement is all in the same direction so the distance doesn't close as quickly (heaven forbid, but every inch and fraction of a second can count). An exception might be if you have a "right of way" that's far enough off the road then it doesn't matter what side (distance from the road makes it safer and usually easier for riding).
This is all very simplified and by no means inclusive. I just hit on some of the main points. Conditioning and training a good open road horse is about finding a horse with the right mind/attitude about it and a lot of time conditioning it (mentally and physically).