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Are trail rides "fun" or "work" for your horse?

This is a discussion on Are trail rides "fun" or "work" for your horse? within the Horse Training forums, part of the Training Horses category
  • Trail ride irritates

 
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    09-04-2009, 07:24 PM
  #11
Super Moderator
When I was able to take Lacey on some actual trials she adored it. I let her go on a loose rein and choose where she wanted to walk. That's one thing that irritates the heck out of me when I ride on trails with other people, a lot of the time the other people will try to tell their horse where to walk, like as in not letting the horse go look over the edge if it wants to or whatever, as long as the horse is behaving itself, why not let it go where ever within boundaries you set? For instance I have boundaries with Lacey about how far ahead she can get from the other horses (she's a power walker) and about how far into either side of the trail/road she can go. As long as she stays with in those boundaries she can meander as much as she wants.

At home however Lacey doesn't seem to be as much of a fan of road riding. I think once we get out there and do it more she'll get better but currently it's a "OMG, I wanna go but I'm scared... Maybe my momma will get down from up there and save me if I act scared enough? But OMG I luuuuv being off property...I'm scared" sorta situation. So at home on the trail I make her work significantly harder since she has issues than I would if she was being calm, just to keep her mind on me and focus instead of spazzing.
     
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    09-04-2009, 07:30 PM
  #12
Showing
For me, it really depends on where the horse is at in their training and how they are behaving. On young or green horses, EVERYWHERE = drilling and training. I work on stops, transitions, one-rein stops, trot and lope circles, etc. On my older, more broke horses, then the trail is fun unless they are less than perfect. When they misbehave, then they get schooled just like a young horse until I feel they have had enough, then it goes back to being just for fun
     
    09-05-2009, 12:02 PM
  #13
Weanling
I like to think of it this way: going for a walk outside on a trail or through a park is wonderfully relaxing and much more enjoyable for me than walking on a tredmill at a gym. I'd like to think it's the same for a horse. Going for a trail ride instead of working in an arena is a way to escape and relax.
Now I know all horses aren't acclimated to trails, some have never been on a trail. So obviously their reaction to the trail environment is going to be different than a horse who has been ridden on the trails several times. But I think that once a horse realizes that the boogy man isn't out to get him around every corner he will learn to appreciate a nice trail ride.
     
    09-05-2009, 12:28 PM
  #14
Showing
Like several others, we exclusively trail ride. There was a time I allowed Vida to just do whatever and she started to refuse to collect up and go into gait. Since then I only occasionally allow her to go out of her 4 beat gait. We have to cut loose once in awhile Its too much fun not to.
With my younger filly, its a constant lesson until she gets more broke.
     
    09-05-2009, 12:49 PM
  #15
Foal
I view trail rides as fun, but Ada puts herself into this beautiful frame as soon as we get on the trail. It's sort of like she senses she needs to use herself properly and trust me more. I think she enjoys it mentally but it's definitely work for her muscles!
     
    09-06-2009, 10:44 AM
  #16
Trained
I give my horse his head on trails. He works hard enough for me in the ring. Trail riding is his fun time. Riding on a loose rein on uneven ground helps me improve my seat dramatically and helps him both think and balance for himself. I only take a little contact of his mouth if he starts to get a little goofy or is looking to me for input if we encounter something challenging. Even then I just take up enough slack where I can control his head by just a tug of my ring finger.
     
    09-06-2009, 01:55 PM
  #17
Foal
I think most horses think trail riding is great. It certainly is not boring like going round and round an arena.

I think if your horse is in good condition, trail riding would not be hard on them unless the terrain is very rugged. Then you'd have to limit them so they don't get too tired.

We used to ride a lot of trails in the summer, ending at a river where we'd pull off the saddles and take the horses in for a swim. Boy, those horses loved that when it was hot. When they got in sight of that old, lazy river, they'd want to run right in before we got the saddles off. Never occurred to us there might be snakes or bad bacteria in the water. But we all lived through it.
     
    09-06-2009, 02:04 PM
  #18
Started
I think after a horse has actually done real, hard work trail rides are fun. But if a horse is specifically ridden only on trail rides, I think it becomes work.
     
    09-06-2009, 08:39 PM
  #19
Trained
Well, I don't have an arena, so all I can do is trail ride, unless I'm at PC or a competition. Which means that I have to get my horse competition, show-ring ready while riding trails :]

My rides are a mix of fun and work. I'll ask for a few steps of collected trot/canter/ here and there. I'll sometimes randomly stop, haunch turn/rollback/spin and keep going. I'll leg yeild him through trees, jump bollards, etc. If I find a nice flat spot, i'll do some circlework for a while then continue on. When not doing the above, I give him all the rein he wants, and the only things I insist on are straightness, and maintaining the gait I ask for until I ask for something else.

I also agree with letting ANY horse have a good run every now and then. Most rides I will let Bundy have a good full-on gallop. It stretches him out, and works muscles that otherwise don't get worked. I also need him to have a level head during fastwork, for campdrafting and working classes, so doing it regularly just makes it part of a ride; Nothing to get excited about.
     
    09-06-2009, 08:52 PM
  #20
Started
Again, as I stated above(provided with a lovely example from wild spot, might I add), it all just depends on the work the horse is used to.
     

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