First trail ride on my horse. Galloping question? Also, tips please?
This Sunday is my first 'real' trail ride, and my first on Zena, although she's been on one with her previous owners, which I don't think counts because they are absolute idiots in the saddle, and it wouldn't surprise me one stinkin' bit if they were intoxicated while riding.
Anyways, I have a few questions. I'm an eventer, so please excuse my dumb questions. Trails aren't my thing. :wink: I'm riding with the rest of the family, and my Dad has been on the trail before.
So, my father said that there were a few steep hills to go up. Apparently, (Maybe he was exaggerating, never know...) one of the hills was so hard to go up, his horse actually had to lift up from a canter to a gallop to get up it. This wouldn't be a big deal, except for Zena is a greenie, and I've never galloped on her.
1. If she were to start galloping up the hill, should I let her continue? In the event that she starts galloping, and doesn't stop (This wouldn't surprise me. Her prev. owners said that their method a breaking her was litterally, getting on, and galloping off. They would race her in backyard races and everything.) would a one-rein stop just be way to dangerous? I feel like that is an accident waiting to happen, since she could fall. She also likes to be in the very front on group hacks, which is the most annoying thing, I swear. But she gets over it, and has no choice.
2. What do you take with you on trails? I'll be in an english saddle, but the rest of my family rides western so they'll have saddle bags for supplies.
3. How often do you take breaks on a trail? The whole ride is under three hours.
4. Any tips, warnings, etc.?
I'm not too worried, but just in case, I want to be prepared for everything. Thanks, everyone.
Truthfully, I never let a horse get into the habit of going faster than a walk up hills, regardless of how steep they are. If left to their own devices, every one of mine will calmly walk up any hill they come across. The only time they go faster is when I ask for it.
Loping/galloping up hills is just a wreck waiting to happen, IMHO. If the horse is going along really fast and you suddenly come to something that you really need to go around like a washout place or a large rock, you lose precious moments of reaction time when you're going too fast. Plus, running up the hills actually makes it harder for them and harder for you.
Think of it this way; when you come across a steep hill when you are walking, do you take off running to go up the hill or do you stick with a slow, steady pace? Which speed is easier? At which speed do you have more control over where your feet land? Which speed can you see and navigate the terrain better?
Some horses that are out of shape will start to drag a bit going up a long hill. What I do is stop and let them breathe for a moment when I feel them begin to struggle to continue forward. After they are allowed to catch their breath, then they can continue on with very little problem.
1. If she were to start galloping up the hill, should I let her continue?
I wouldn't if I could help it. I would try to ease her back down to a walk, or at least a trot, if at all possible. Green horse + limited training/control + rough or dangerous terrain + speed = a sure catastrophe waiting to happen.
would a one-rein stop just be way to dangerous?
If she gets going and doesn't respond to your standard cues to slow down, then I would just let her go and try to direct her to the safest footing I could. A ORS on a horse that isn't properly prepared for it is dangerous on flat ground and a potential disaster on a steep hill.
2. What do you take with you on trails?
I normally don't take much with me. If I know that it's going to be hot and dry and I won't be passing anywhere to get myself a drink like a windmill or clean creek, then I would take water with me. Beyond that, I normally keep my cell phone and in the summer, I have my gun to shoot snakes or whatever else I need to.
3. How often do you take breaks on a trail?
Depends on the trail, the horse, the temperature, and the pace. If I'm on a horse that is relatively fit, the trail isn't terribly strenuous, and it isn't too hot, I generally don't take breaks unless I get tired or need to stop for whatever reason.
4. Any tips, warnings, etc.?
Just be careful. If you are going to be running your horses up the hills, then you should really let the person in front of you go all the way up before you start your ascent. Running up a steep hill nose to tail is a perfect way to cripple/kill 2 horses and 2 people. If the leader's horse were to stumble, there is no way that you could stop your horse in time to avoid a collision that would likely send you all rolling down the hill.
1. This is kind of a preference thing and really depends on how well conditioned your horse is too. Do NOT one-rein stop on a steep hill though. If your horse does not have the muscle to take the hill at a slower gait, then it's probably safer to let them speed up until you have them better conditioned. Now don't get "unable" confused with "taking the easy way out". My horse is well conditioned, but she'll still gallop up anything that I let her do it on. Walking up hills actually builds more muscle than galloping or trotting, so find some that she IS capable of and make her walk. If you do let her gallop up the hill and she doesn't stop, once you're on flat ground you can start circling her in, one-rein stopping once you're slowed down if need be.
2. There are saddle bags that work with English saddles so you might want to invest in one! Anyway, I usually bring a few basic first-aide supplies, a pocket knife, a few extra buckles and shoestrings in case of tack malfunction, a phone, and treats.
3. Go by how you feel and how your horse is doing. If you can tell she's really breathing hard and her sides are heaving, go ahead and give her a break. It certainly won't hurt anything, especially if you time it to come right after some good behavior. I occasionally give my mare a break due to being tired, but for the most part my breaks occur naturally now that we're in shape...like a good place to graze/pick an apple, or an obstacle to work around.
4. There are too many precautions to name, but basically, be ready for anything. (and keep the phone attached to you, not the horse) Have fun!!!
1. I don't let my horses change speed when going up a hill. They naturally try to charge hills so I expect your horse will try and gallop up it. It's up to you and your personal preference on how to approach hills.
2. If you are going to be hitting steep hills, watch your saddle. If it wants to slip back then you'll need to get off and reset it. If you keep trail riding in steeper terrain it would be a good idea to invest in a breast collar. Things to toss in your families saddle bags is liquid and food if you are going to be out more then a few hours. Less then that you can leave them in your rig but you'll still want them. Change of clothes/shoes for after the ride is a good idea, never know when you'll be dunked in a stream, get rained, etc.
3. Rest breaks depend on how in shape your horses are terrain you are going over. Just keep a sharp eye on how your horses is doing and call a break when needed. Green trail horses tend not to drink on rides but give her a chance every time you come across water. If you can pinch some skin and it doesn't snap back into shape your horse is becoming dehydrated and it's time to worry.
Speed: I don't mind if my horse scrambles a little to regain footing, but otherwise they go as fast as I want. Sometimes it turns into a stuggle if I want to go slower than the horse in front, but I end up winning.
However, I disagree about a blanket statement that cantering up a hill is always a bad idea. If you know the area and have good footing and a good sightlines, by all means canter up. Often I'll get up on a two point to help her out. I never gallop up steep hills though.
English saddle bags: Snug Pax,snug Pack, saddle bags and packs,add ons,horse,english saddle bag,english pommel bag, ENGLISH
Stopping a bolter: pulley rein > one-rein stop.
Trail breaks: Old Army cavalry rule was 10 min rest for every 45 mins of trot. Probably can do 1 1/2 hrs before a break if the trip is mostly walking. Watch your horse and don't be afraid to speak up. Don't let others ignore you if you think stopping is best.
As far as the actual riding, I would think an eventer (even one at BN) should have zero problems.
Everyone else said it well.
The only thing I would add is why don't you tackle the steep hills first if you are worried? The others may love a charge up a hill but if you aren't comfortable ask to go first. See how she does and if she needs to pick up some speed by all means let her do so, under your control. All mine will walk but if I feel them bog down (or even start to turn to the side, which can be dangerous) I'll give them their head and let them get me up safely.
Just remember to relax! Have fun and enjoy getting out!
1. If she were to start galloping up the hill, should I let her continue? Where I trail ride, we trail ride up mountains and no matter how steep our horses can make them up at a fast walk. Now with that said my horse trots up hills a lot, she is a speedy type horse and we are also conditioning ourselves, eventually, she will lope up some to, but if I only feel it’s safe. Never will I risk the safely of my horse. The steeper the hill the more likely I will make them walk. I will never trot, lope or gallop down an hill, without knowing the hill and it not being steep. Also most of our group rides are done at a walk, esp. with a green horse.
2. would a one-rein stop just be way to dangerous? Is she trained to do a one-rein stop? Is in a wide trail? What about the horses around you? Some things to consider. Rarely have I used a one-rein stop on the trails.
3. What do you take with you on trails? After years of riding I have came to carry some things. No matter if it’s an 11 hour or 2 hour trail ride. Always carry something for you to drink. Gatorade is a really good choice. As a dehydrated horse can be given Gatorade. Like someone else said a green horse might not drink creek water. Give your horse a chance to drink at about every creek, unless you cross tons. Also if you are anyone isn’t really sure of the trails take a flashlight. Some of us went on a 3 hour trails ride that turned into a 12 campout trail ride, because it got to dark. A cell phone esp. If you are in an area you have service. Snacks that is somewhat healthy. Also sometimes I will have a rain coat in my saddle bags, as I ride 11 hours and in rainly season
4. How often do you take breaks on a trail? Honestly, for 3 horses, the only breaks I would take is if my horse was out of shape, saddle breaks to fix saddles and if an rider needs it. As I have a bad foot and might need to rewrap it, or some other reason. With that says my two horses can go 6.6 miles at a trot/gait, nonstop. (as long as rider can post that long on Appaloosa) Both the Appaloosa and Walker are high-sprinted horses, and we are working on fittest. The Appaloosa is also a barrel horse in training. When we ride 11 hours, that normally involves two 15 mintues in saddle rest brakes, random needed breaks and an half hour lunch break.
4. Any tips, warnings, etc.? Only ride as hard as your horse and you are willing to. Don’t worry about the other horses, while if you need to slow down, I’m guessing another rider will stay back to keep your horse calm with you.
As far as riding, galloping etc, I'm too much of a novice to give you any advice. As a hunter's ed instructor I can tell you the same thing I tell my students. Take some food (granola bars, fruit etc), water (or water purifier for streams), flashlight, small rope, at least two ways to start a fire, a small first aid kit, and something to make a shelter out of. Going as a group, you can share/split who brings what, just make sure that if you get into a survival situation, you have it and not need it rather than the other way around. I always take a couple large plastic garbage bags, whistle (for signalling rescuers), a lighter, a flashlight with extra batteries, first aid kit, cell phone (hope it works), bottle of water, purification pills/drops, a rope, clothing appropriate to the time of year location (summer trip has different needs than a fall elk hunt), some granola bars, candy bars, dried fruit. A gun of some type may come in handy for signalling, food, or defense. And a compass and map of the area.
A small incident can result in you needing to spend the night someplace. Being unprepared can turn it from an inconvenience to a matter of life and death.
Hooves, you have had some good advice but since you are riding English here are couple of points:
If you are climbing a lot of hills then fit a hunter type breast plate to your saddle and girth to stop the saddle from slipping back. If you have one, fit a running martingale which will give you some leverage should your horse get 'hot'.
Ride light in the saddle - the old term used to be 'riding forward' so when climbing up hills then get off the seat of the saddle and take your weight in the knee rolls and stirrup irons. Adjust your stirrup leathers a notch or two higher so that you have a bend in your knee (as for jumping).
and be aware that out in the countryside you are never ever sure about what is coming next -so keep alert and trust your horse but ride with a light contact with the bit at all times.
Enjoy your ride.
First, the ONLY stupid question is the one that you should have asked and didn’t. Actually, I think you’ll find the x-country is very similar to trail riding, and I’m sure that you’ll enjoy it and probably you’ll incorporate it into your future training.
If she were to start galloping up the hill, should I let her continue?
ONLY if I ask for this on a horse that a totally trust. If you’ve evented on your horse, go ahead. If you feel at ALL uneasy, make her slow down and LISTEN to you for the whole ride.
What do you take with you on trails?
Saddles with lots of places to tie are mandatory for very long rides. For short ones, close to home, you should ride something comfortable. DH and I did CW Reenacting for 26 years and took yearly summer trail riding vacations. The most important thing for us was to take a canteen for water. If you have any small saddle bags, take tack-repair stuff with you, which can be even baling twine and a swiss army knife. What’s better is to have your friend take the saddle bags with the extra reins, extra girth and horse med kit, LOL!
How often do you take breaks on a trail?
Probably every 2-4 hours.
Any tips, warnings, etc.?
Since you’re asking and are not sure, I would ALWAYS ride with a calm, seasoned trail horse and rider. YOUR horse will gain confidence bc of a confident horse next to you, and this will help your horse with any unexpected situations.
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