What it takes to be a trail rider
I was reminded yesterday that not everyone has what it takes to be a trail rider. I went on a short hack with a friend whom I've known for many years...lately she has been focused on getting into the hunter/jumper world and has been spending most of her days riding with someone else. When she came over yesterday we explored some old overgrown trails across the street...the whole time she was tense and uneasy, keeping a tight rein on my mare and keeping her to a short collected walk. We had to turn back several times...once because the trail crossed a small creek - too narrow and deep to walk over/across - my mustang and I were all set to jump it but I could tell my friend was NOT up for it. We also crossed a few old bridges...as we approached I could hear my friend saying "whoa girl, easy, it's ok" etc...my mare barely looked at it and marched right across lol! Another time the trail appeared to end, but I could tell it was just overgrown and came out to a clearing ahead. So my mustang and I plunged forward...we accidentally got caught and hung up on some vines...one around his hind leg, another wrapped around my stirrup and another (for a second) caught me across the throat. My mustang calmly stopped, we carefully detangled ourselves, cut the vines and continued. But meanwhile, my friend behind me was freaking out. She insisted on dismounting and hand walking my mare the rest of the way until we reached an open area (field) again. On the way we came across an old abandoned house and barn...my mustang and I stopped and explored the ruins...meanwhile my friend stood there, looking miserable...holding my poor mare who looked royally pissed (but, I might add, was still behaving). I'm afraid I'm not a very good friend because I could barely keep from laughing at her dejected expression...I decided to call it quits then and head back to end her suffering...but I have the strangest feeling she won't be back for a while, lol.
That's not to say that all riders who compete in other disciplines aren't good trail riders - my sister is an Eventer and she is every bit as bold and adventurous as myself (we try to get together and go trail riding about once a week). That being said, I have heard so many people knocking trail riders, but I daresay if they came out with me just once they would be hard put to keep up!
So what do you think? What does it take to be a trail rider? :)
Aww... well I hope your friend IS back to go for another ride, trail riding is really the best way to explore nature and enjoy it, and I hate to see people miss out on it when they have the chance. I wish her luck.
Trails take a lot of courage and emotional collection, that's my opinion. You're out in the open, or in enclosed areas, you never know what is going to pop up and you HAVE to be prepared for everything all while being loose and at ease with yourself and your horse. I think it may also take a reserve and love for nature, a respect for the things and elements around you; those sorts of people who respect nature are less likely to make the trails less pleasant with things like littering and really just enables you to soak it all in and really appreciate and love what you are doing.
A truly amazing trail horse-and-human team have to have a connection, they gotta be able to read each others minds and know what to expect from the other in given situations. Like Indie... she knows that if something pops out of a brush, or if a car goes blaring down the road inches from us that I may let out an instinctual "scream" or jump and will not be in the situation to be the "boss" for a split second... I just can't help it, I don't even think about it. But she knows that, she's ready for it and she even takes control for just that moment to get out of the way until I regain myself to take the lead again.
Or I know that Indie is scared of steep ledges, and I myself am prepared for that and if I know one is coming up, I put on a stronger attitude and push her harder and know which buttons to push to be able to have her comfortably cross a ledge.
Trail riding (at least more advanced ones) takes as much person-to-horse connection as many high level competitions, and I wouldn't take someone on the trails I go on unless I knew that they either had a horse that would take care of em, or they had that special connection with their mount; I really believe it has a strong place.
Heehee... sorry for the novel, I'm waiting for my pizza to get done and had some spare time to write that monster up :lol:
And I see we share the same state!! We should totally hit up on a local ride sometime :D
Hm.. I wont be judgemental towards you. But you should try to be open minded towards your friend. You say she is getting into the Hunter/Jumper world- is she a talented rider with a good seat? Is she just beginning? Have you ever been scared of anything while riding?
I know that I trail ride exclusively but I am also very timid. I was scared to jump that creek, heck I was scared my horse was gonig to jump the puddle that he refused to walk through. I have gotten scared and kept a tight rein when I *thought* something would be scary to him, even though it wasn't. I know its hard to revert back to "beginners riding" when you are more successful and less intimidated by the trails. But if this is your friend, you may want to take well cleared trails.. i bet you'd enjoy yourselves, :)
I had a similar experience recently.
My friend used to be a very accomplished rider, and she still is. She has just lost all of her confidence.
We were exploring some pastures that had a big group of cows. I was on my four year old and she was on a lesson gelding. Both horses spooked and bolted because the cows literally charged us! Luckily we were both able to dismount before getting run away with.
We caught the horses and I immediately got back on, ready to continue the ride. My friend, on the other hand, was terrified to get back on. I got off my jumpy four year old and held her horse so she could get back on. I mounted again and right when we started to walk off she hopped of again. Yet again, I dismounted to hold her horse so she could get on.
I decided to turn back home so she wouldn't lose any more confidence. Many times on the way home she would hop off, and eventually she just walked all the way home. She kept saying he was bucking, but he wasn't. We did take an easy trail when we got back so my friend wouldn't be afraid to ride again.
At first I was sort of angry. She is an awesome rider, and here she was ruining my ride because she was afraid. But then I realized, if I had taken many years off from riding and then I get on a terrified horse who has already bolted, I may have been freaked too. I'm used to riding a green, spooky TB every week. She isn't.
So I put myself in her shoes. Now I know to take it easy next time to keep her comfy. I'll keep tackling the spooky rides on my own.
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I guess my first post sounded a bit mean. She actually is a pretty decent rider. We used to do a lot of trail riding in the old days, so I don't necessarily think she was scared. It's just that recently she has become obsessed with all the nuances and particulars of riding "correctly" and having everything perfect. She loves patterns and repetition and riding in a ring. And there's nothing wrong with that! But she has gotten so wrapped up in the details that she no longer seems to enjoy going outside the arena. It took me about an hr to realize she was not having fun (and wasn't about to) so we headed home, changed horses, and did something that was more fun for her (even though I don't have an arena lol:)
I think you are misinterpreting her fear as "not having fun". You dont get 'so wrapped up in arena riding' that you dont enjoy trail riding unless there is something underlying the problem (ie: fear). The way you are describing is the definition of fear.. tight rein, telling the horse woah. easy. Getting off.. this was not something she was being bitter about. She was scared.
I really like hacking out, but when I go on trail rides I want my horse between the aids, tracking straight, and bending correctly. It can be a relaxed, easy ride, but I'm not going to let horse get sloppy. Correct and tense are polar opposites.
Your friend, for whatever reason, is losing her nerve outside the ring and it has nothing to do with being detail oriented.
I can understand both you and your friend as I am both!! I am an experienced trail rider regularly going on week long treks over very rough terrain. I also have loss of confidence riding out! This because of my age 62, and also because I experienced a bad fall a year ago! Also, I am riding a new horse I started myself and have passed on my experienced cob to my daughter.
I have no reason to mistrust my horse, he just needs experience and to be able to trust me as a confident leader.
I have also ridden with timid riders and they do cramp ones style when out trail riding! The whole ride is all about their fears! It's okay if you go out with the aim of doing it for them and helping them with their confidence issues. But if you just want an enjoyable ride and you are not aware of their fears and lack of confidence, this can surprise and annoy.
I have overcome my lackmof confidence to a huge degree by, as they say "feeling the fear and doing it anyway"! Riding every day, or as much as possible helps with confident issues. Just as we familiarize our horse to spooky objects by repitition, that is exactly how we overcome our own fears. On my big trail rides I am frequently scared but I face it and the sense of accomplishment at the end is enormous.
It takes courage to trail ride! I lost a lot of my confidence when I got thrown and really hurt 3.5 years ago. I used to be a really good rider 26 years prior but it has taken 3.5 years to get a lot of my confidence back - and I only trail ride. I got thrown in an arena and feel better out than in!
I would get off of my horse and lead him around some things and was tense - yet I still enjoyed it. If I am tired I am a terrible rider and can't handle it if Biscuit gets a little fresh...so I understand your friend's issues.
It may take a few rides out for her to relax and enjoy the ride. I know that I have been grateful for my friends that have been patient with me. I ride a terrific horse but when I first get on STILL I can be a little nervous until I have been riding about 20 minutes and then I settle down myself. Hope the next ride is better!!!
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