Preparing a Horse for Solo Rides - The Horse Forum
  • 2 Post By Chevaux
  • 2 Post By gssw5
  • 4 Post By Cherie
  • 1 Post By trailwalker
  • 1 Post By AQHSam
  • 2 Post By Joe4d
LinkBack Thread Tools
post #1 of 10 Old 08-18-2013, 10:47 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Nov 2011
Location: SW MO
Posts: 890
• Horses: 0
Preparing a Horse for Solo Rides

I want to ride my 6 yo gelding solo on trails. Up until this point I have always ridden on trails with at least one more horse. The last few times I have tried to ride him solo on short and easy trails at the campground. He obeys, but I can tell he is highly anxious.

At the barn he works solo very well indoors and outdoors in the arena with no fuss. In the pasture, he usually settles down in a few minutes.

I find I can't ride as much when I try to rely on others. Or, they do one ride in the morning and have no interest in a second ride later in the day. I feel like I drag my horse camping so it can hang out in the stall.

What advice can you give me for off barn riding solo so he is not as anxious?
AQHSam is offline  
Sponsored Links
post #2 of 10 Old 08-18-2013, 10:57 PM
Join Date: Sep 2012
Posts: 3,712
• Horses: 0
Just keep doing it. Take him out alone as much as you can, anxious is ok and somewhat normal to start with but you need to just sit and ride and ride like your in the arena, let him know he can relax. However if he starts rushing and getting overly worked up (don't get off him unless he's being more horse than you can handle i.e. you are going to get hurt!! last resort is to get off) ride him home and work his butt off in the arena. Anxiety out on the trail can quickly turn into bad behavior. Ride him out to where you want to be, get off let him rest and relax and ride quietly home. Again, if he wants to rush home or back to his buddies, take him there, work his behind off (I find counter cantering is good for this) right where he wants to be.....he will soon decide that going out on the trail is better than rushing home.
Muppetgirl is offline  
post #3 of 10 Old 08-19-2013, 12:44 AM
Green Broke
Join Date: Jun 2012
Location: Canada
Posts: 3,401
• Horses: 0
Here's a couple of things that have worked for me when putting the solo miles on: I will spend time going back and forth over a short section of trail numerous times (and I mean numerous) just walking along quietly. The purpose is really a type of desensitization process; once they're calm doing that then I add a little more distance in the loop and so on. I realize it's not very exciting for you but it helps the horse build up confidence and expand its comfort zone by going over familiar territory. In short order, the loops disappear and you are on a proper trail ride. The other thing I do is I will sing to a horse if it looks like it is starting to get tense. Pick a song that has a slower, relaxing tempo. The purpose is to give a little reassurance that they are not truly alone, to subtly bring focus back on you, and to keep you from tensing up (which is transmitted to the horse). Keep putting those miles on and you'll succeed.
Boo Walker and Charley horse like this.

Last edited by Chevaux; 08-19-2013 at 12:47 AM.
Chevaux is offline  
post #4 of 10 Old 08-19-2013, 05:59 AM
Join Date: Jul 2013
Location: Florida
Posts: 1,231
• Horses: 7
When you ride the trail make sure your riding and not just being a passenger, do things that keep his brained turned on to you. Ride in circles, practice yielding, go over some logs, go around trees, do lots of transitions whatever you do keep your horse engaged so he does not have time to worry. They can only think of one thing at a time so if he thinking about you he can't be thinking about being worried. I like the singing idea, I sing on the trail I ride with an ipod with a little speaker attached to my belt loop. Singing keeps you breathing and when you breath you relax. Have fun and be safe.
Cherie and Charley horse like this.
gssw5 is offline  
post #5 of 10 Old 08-19-2013, 06:52 AM
Join Date: Sep 2012
Location: Central Western NSW, Australia
Posts: 1,120
• Horses: 4
My horse is pretty good with riding alone, but when he gets distracted by horses in paddocks etc I'll give him something to thing about - I'll weave, half halt, circle, walk-trot transitions and, if he is really worked up, halts and backs.

Perhaps you could try using trail riding alone as a reward after a hard arena session?
Tracer is offline  
post #6 of 10 Old 08-19-2013, 07:22 AM
Join Date: Nov 2012
Location: California
Posts: 338
• Horses: 1
Great tips everyone! AQHSam I am going to be doing the same thing this fall riding solo.
I think I am going to start out w/short distances first and work our way up to longer rides..^^^^Following all advice above^^^^^
Be sure and let someone know you are out and about that way if something happens you have a life line to help.

Charley horse is offline  
post #7 of 10 Old 08-19-2013, 08:01 AM
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: Oklahoma
Posts: 5,995
• Horses: 0
This and buddy sour problems is why we start our horses out alone and add other horses later instead of the other way around.

We do exactly what gssw5 does in addition to riding faster and riding off trail in rougher footing. I would not recommend backing up. When you keep stopping and/or backing up an anxious horse, you are just asking it to start rearing.

We think forward impulsion is the most important part of training and maintaining an obedient riding horse used for any purpose -- particularly trail horses.

If you live near long trails and big areas, pack a lunch and ride for 6 or 8 hours. You can get a confident trail horse in one day. Just bring plenty of water for you and ride where there is water along the trail for your horse. We get colts used to carrying saddle bags (usually horn bags) and having stuff pulled out of them and head out for the roughest canyons south of the ranch. We keep a good halter and lead-rope under our bridles and can stop and tie up a horse any time. We carry a cell-phone (only works on the high points) and someone always knows where we are going.

People come to us with their problem trail horses and they are always amazed how quickly it works to ride 'em harder and faster and cover more ground. We tell people to look up -- not down and focus on a place well ahead of them and ride there with a purpose.

If you ride on long rides and ride hard, be sure you have good wool saddle pads or blankets and a good clean mohair girth. It is our experience that you can sure gall one with anything else. Lift the horse's front legs and pull them up and forward to pull skin out from under the girth and keep an eye on them.

Happy trails. Cherie

visit us at
Cherie is offline  
post #8 of 10 Old 08-19-2013, 09:26 AM
Join Date: Jan 2013
Location: culpeper va
Posts: 139
• Horses: 1
I ride a lot alone for a lot of the same reasons as you plus I have gaited horses and its hard for me to find people to ride with that don't want to just walk all the time. Like everyone else said you just ha ve to keep riding. Sweaty blankets and saddle sores make good trail horses!!
Posted via Mobile Device
Charley horse likes this.
trailwalker is offline  
post #9 of 10 Old 08-19-2013, 10:00 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Nov 2011
Location: SW MO
Posts: 890
• Horses: 0
Thank you EVERYONE for the great tips. This will come in handy on our next trip in a few weeks. I will work on frequent sessions throughout the weekend.
Charley horse likes this.
AQHSam is offline  
post #10 of 10 Old 08-19-2013, 02:43 PM
Green Broke
Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: Surry, Va
Posts: 4,712
• Horses: 0
just do it, it will get better each time, horse starts acting up make him either think or crash into a tree.
Ive got one that needed to crash into a tree a few times. get off the trail do figure 8s around treels, step over logs, back out on trail. Hang in there it will get better. Worse comes to worse just lead him from the ground. But not BACK to trailer, keep doing the trail you planned n doing. I walk and or jog with my horses quite a bit when I first get them and take them on trail the first few times.
Charley horse and kbg7506 like this.
Joe4d is offline  

Quick Reply

Register Now

In order to be able to post messages on the The Horse Forum forums, you must first register.

Already have a Horse Forum account?
Members are allowed only one account per person at the Horse Forum, so if you've made an account here in the past you'll need to continue using that account. Please do not create a new account or you may lose access to the Horse Forum. If you need help recovering your existing account, please Contact Us. We'll be glad to help!

New to the Horse Forum?
Please choose a username you will be satisfied with using for the duration of your membership at the Horse Forum. We do not change members' usernames upon request because that would make it difficult for everyone to keep track of who is who on the forum. For that reason, please do not incorporate your horse's name into your username so that you are not stuck with a username related to a horse you may no longer have some day, or use any other username you may no longer identify with or care for in the future.

User Name:
Please enter a password for your user account. Note that passwords are case-sensitive.


Confirm Password:
Email Address
Please enter a valid email address for yourself.

Email Address:


Human Verification

In order to verify that you are a human and not a spam bot, please enter the answer into the following box below based on the instructions contained in the graphic.

Old Thread Warning
This thread is more than 90 days old. When a thread is this old, it is often better to start a new thread rather than post to it. However, If you feel you have something of value to add to this particular thread, you can do so by checking the box below before submitting your post.

Thread Tools
Show Printable Version Show Printable Version
Email this Page Email this Page

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Preparing for a horse show Horses4Healing Horse Videos 0 08-08-2013 09:03 PM
Preparing for a horse show help laughing Horse Grooming 6 10-09-2011 08:16 PM
Advice on Preparing Horse for Trailer! cascanastargazer Horse Talk 0 09-13-2011 07:31 PM
Preparing horse for the show kitten_Val Horse Shows 32 06-01-2011 06:27 PM
Preparing a horse for a parade..? JavaLover Horse Riding 10 12-14-2009 11:51 PM

Posting Rules  
You may post new threads
You may post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are On

For the best viewing experience please update your browser to Google Chrome