Working Trail Rides, what do you do? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 6 Old 01-25-2013, 08:31 PM Thread Starter
Green Broke
Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: Seattle, WA
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Working Trail Rides, what do you do?

So I'm starting to get Ollie out on the trails more, instead of just loose rein and just enjoying the view I'm asking him to work. I really am focusing on getting him in the best fitness I can for spring.

I have only gone on one working trail ride. This was when our arena froze over lol we did some trot work, he was reallynot sure why he was being asked to trot on the trail,mnot only trot but coming through from behind and into the bit. Had a few relaxed but allot of it was tense and me reassuring him.

So we have some trails with long driveways, small hills, one big hill, twisty turns and such....what awesome things I can incorporate in our working trail rides besides just trotting correctly?

Would love some thoughts on this :)

Thank you!
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post #2 of 6 Old 01-25-2013, 08:50 PM
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: Ohio
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Leg yields. For most of the year, my grass arena is wet and I'm forced to take advantage of trails and fields to condition my eventer. One big thing I work on is leg yielding and moving every part of his body. Hills are also great for building muscle.
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post #3 of 6 Old 01-25-2013, 08:54 PM
Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: Somewhere in Wisconsin
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I agree! Also other things that may be "scary" to him. I always work on leg yielding, also just ask him basic cues along the way, stopping, backing, transitions etc. A good thing is to mount and dismount along the trail using rocks, and other things in case something were happens. Obviously he may not be a trail horse all the time, but it's great stuff for him to know. I always am schooling on trail rides whether my boy realizes it or not. ;)

"Every person you will meet will have at least one great quality. Duplicate it and leave the rest." --Clinton Anderson
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post #4 of 6 Old 01-25-2013, 09:04 PM
Join Date: Jun 2011
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I work on helping my mare carry her head straight, collection in gaits (including the walk!), picking up the correct lead in the canter, switching leads, bending into turns, and 'tailing', which will be important when we do Tevis 2014 (but you don't have to do that, LOL!). I also like, after 1/2 way done, to turn her back and ask her to walk a different direction than she's used to. We also have a lot of unruly, unleashed dogs, which is always a good opportunity to teach her to face a dog and walk towards it (99% of dogs will run away when challenged by a horse ... the one dog that didn't was, suffice it to say, sorta sorry and never has chased us again even though he often looks at my mare with the deepest hate). Sometimes I go off trail and slalom her through the trees to keep her nice and responsive to my legs. Sometimes I work on sending exercises even if it is for something small, like a mud puddle or creek. We stand around in water. We walk through a lot of mud. We also stop and stand there for a while doing nothing. If I feel her rushing through a downhill to uphill transition, I will ask for only a walk.

But I, too, sometimes ride around looking at leaves and sunshine. And sometimes I just space out! ;)
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post #5 of 6 Old 01-25-2013, 09:18 PM
Join Date: May 2009
Location: Mid Northern TN
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Rating speed and gait changes. One exercise I used to do a lot was changing gaits and speed within those gaits. W/t/c/g/stop and back again. All too often people's horses get 'worked up' and stop listening when they're allowed to go fast (or bolt and wind up going fast), so one of my big projects was making sure my horse knows that just because his feet are moving fast doesn't mean his brain gets to turn off or he can allow his attention to wander from my cues. Learning to maneuver and place his feet properly over uneven terrain at speeds over a walk took a bit for my guy too. We're spending more time on leg yields and bending properly on the trail now that the above has been mastered.

I have a weakness for 'trail obstacles' too though. Nothing like a log, ditch, or hill to get my attention and over, under or through we go. I almost consider random dogs to be trail obstacles any more, seems like no matter where you are, you're gonna find one.
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post #6 of 6 Old 01-25-2013, 09:51 PM
Join Date: Jul 2008
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I use anything I come across as a training opportunity. If I find a tree with a smooth trunk and enough room to maneuver around it, I'll work on bending and leg yields. I can often be found backing a horse up and down hills. If there is a little drop-off, I'll go up and down it until the horse steps calmly instead of jumping. I'll ride them through thickets and deadfalls to get them used to watching where their feet are at and teaching them not to freak out whenever something other than my leg brushes their shoulder/side/flank/hip.

If I come across a relatively flat area, I'll work circles and figure 8's until they are relaxed and responsive before continuing on.

Just think of what you need them to do in the arena, then start looking for places on the trail to practice it.

Always remember that feeling of looking at a big, open country over the ears of a good horse, seeing a new trail unwind ahead of you, and that ever-spectacular view from the top of the ridge!!! Follow my training blog:
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