how to start trail riding
I have a cute 7 tr standy . He is great in the arena but we havent been trail riding yet. He can be a bit spooky /snorty in new situations.
Could you give me some advice regarding starting his trail career?
Is it best to go with 1 horse , 2 or a small group? Any advice would be welcome
Going out with one or two horses would be good. Given that they are already good trail horses. Ones that don't get excited or spook. Yours can learn a lot from them that he doesn't need to get nervous.
Start out slow and stay close to "home". Slowly expand his comfort zone. Keep his mind focused on you by giving him jobs to do, do circles, sidepassing, weave in and out of the trees, cross over logs, etc. if you find something or somewhere he's nervous, don't be afraid to get off and do some ground work. It will help him get focused back on you.
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Have you done some scary situation work in the Arena as in desensitizing him to the scary boogers?
We would place small tarps out in the arena, on some tarps we would dig out a little sand place the tarp down and fill with an inch or so of water. Then walk around and eventually over the tarps and thru and over the water filled ones.
We also would place some bright shiny objects like small sheets of tin and walk around them. We would have someone drive a bicycle into the Arena. Make strange noises, etc.
Not really trying to spook them, but just introduce them to new things in a controlled away.
Anything you can do to help desensitize your Horse about those scary boogers out on a Trail is helpful.
I would think one Horse along on the 1st ride, but start out on a short ride and progress till he is used to new things.
I agree with the previous suggestions - when you do go out, go with a small group of more experienced horses. They can really be a confidence-booster for your own horse. Make sure the people you are riding with know that your horse does not have much trail experience, and let them know your goal for now is just to get him used to things.
Adding to that, as the ride progresses, take turns with your "place" in the group. Ride in the middle and rear of the group, and try leading for a bit.
Also, see if you can set up some little obstacles in an arena, especially things like tarps or "spooky" items. Don't over-do it, but it's good practice.
Remember that some horses are very reactive and sensitive to the way their rider responds to things. So if you "ball up" every time you encounter something that you think may scare the horse, the horse will determine that whatever it is it's worth being scared of.
I've seen some people who have managed to turn their horses into quivering, neurotic messes because they (the rider) were so tense about all the things their horse MIGHT be afraid of.
Since your horse is the OMG *SNORT* WHAT IS THAT *SNORT* type (like my horse can be), do LOTS of just plain walking. Don't give him a reason to get hyped up. Horses sometimes can get really worked up and nervous even more if they're already jittery and are asked to GO GO GO.
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I would go with one or two sane horses that have sane riders that don't want you dead. Keep it slow for starters.
it was told to me, that when you see your horse starting to eye something like its not sure and could potentially shy away from it. distract it, by talking to it, or reigning away from the potential "booger" not really going in another direction, but just getting the horses mind off of it. once you learn what your horse is shy of, like mine is shy of rocks, stumps and logs on the side of the trails, then im more prepared. i now know what to look for, and i try to be one step ahead of her. ive taken this advice and it works great, a little tap with the reigns, (shes neck reigns) and a reassuring "easy girl" and she usually goes right by that "booger" with just a little bit of eye balling it. occasionally if its something that really seems to be bothering her, i tap her with my spur, little tap of reigns and talking, and she will go right along with no trouble. just gotta learn your horse in that type of environment.
When faced with a potential scary situation such as a bridge with an imaginary troll under it, I sing. Anybody knows that mommy won't sing if trolls are going to eat us.
You could hand walk him on a few trails if possible. That way he gets used to some of the oggie boogies and won't consider you a threat because you're not on his back. You can also reassure him from the ground by walking past the spookie to show him it isn't going to eat anyone.
the biggest baddest troll on the fire roads we usually ride in the jefferson national forest here in VA, is a simple pipe culvert. something about a culvert sticking outa the side of a path or roadway just seems to bother the bejesus outa her.
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