Hiking With a Mini
This isn't quite exactly about trail riding, but I'm guessing that it is close enough? c:
Anyhow, I was thinking of purchasing a miniature horse (if I can find the certain fellow I've been looking for), and I was wondering if hiking a trail with a mini in tow would be fine?
Is there anything I should be aware of as far as dogs, people, large horses, and such go? Also, would a regular halter and maybe a very small set of carrying bags on the mini might work?
I'd be cautious, depending on where you plan on hiking, if there are a lot of steep rocky hills or things like that. A horse - even a small one, not carrying a rider - may have more difficulty navigating that kind of terrain.
Just out of curiousity, is there any reason why you're opting for a miniature horse as a pack animal instead of something like a llama or alpaca? Or a burro? They're known for being great pack animals as well.
I think it would be okay as long as you considered the terrain and how much you want the mini to carry. If you just want it to carry lunch, some water and first aids supplies or something - a real small load - it should be okay. You also want to consider the minis hooves and the terrain.
When I had an accident and was on a mandatory riding/exercise break, I was told that I could walk but no straining or sports or hard activities. I would handwalk my horse on the trail.
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I've taken my minis on walks before as well. We haven't gone hiking but I think it would be fine. I do agree with the posters about them being in shape, hoof care and being careful about the footing. I think it could be fun.
I would be choosing fairly level and unrocky terrain. Perhaps with a forest areas that are not too uneven. He and I would be going on more leisurely hikes... that are probably really considered "walks". No super ambitious terrain for us! :-P
As for why I don't choose a donkey or another animal. It's a matter of boarding fees and personal wishes at the moment. I like horses (fine with donkeys as well) more than other pack animals (however I am not adverse to owning a llama, but not at the moment), and if I wind up with the mini I've been looking for... well then I'll have a small horse instead of a full-size horse. c:
He would fall under the lightly packed category then. I don't plan to overload the fellow, and if I had a few heavier things other things than first aid, a few bottles of water, a small snack; I would just carry it myself. I'd be sure to carefully condition him and watch his hooves, though!
You would probably need to stick to the horse trails instead of actually hiking on hiking trails. Will you be trailering the horse? The terrain around my boarding facility is all hill. You're either going up a hill or down a hill. There are some patches with smooth, even ground but the majority of it, you are either ascending or descending.
I've only trail ridden once or twice on public tails and I don't recall much about it. I'm pretty sure that if you decide to hike in a park, you would have to stick to the equine trails since you'll have a horse, and horses tend to poo. Just like some parks will only allow dogs on dog trails. Normal hikers don't want to have to share the trails with animals.
I would take into consideration your location. I live in western PA. We are at the foothills and you rarely have a long stretch without some sort of incline. I couldn't imagine hiking these trails (around my barn anyways). It would just be rather unpleasant. Even the "mild" trails at the local parks have hilly climbs. Would the horse trails be very hilly, or would they be flat? How long would you be out? Ontop of everything you'll pack the mini with, you'd have to take into consideration how to get the horse to the trail. What will the mini do during the winter months, when you'll hike less (I'm presuming)?
Overall, I think it would be a fun idea. You just have some things to think about.
When I had a mini we went for short hikes together. The closest trail was right across from my former barn, but it was a hiking trail. The people didn't seem to mind at all. They would often ask to pet my mini. I did have to watch out for dogs, though. With the narrow paths running into people with dogs off leash is bad. We stopped going after dogs became a problem. Definitely stick to the horse trails.
ohmygosh I thought I was the only one who had done this, lol! I have a miniature sized pony - she was originally one of the feral ponies that roam the mountains of Grayson Highlands State Park and Mt Rogers Recreation Area. I have taken her hiking quite a bit in NC and up in the mountains of VA where she comes from. This June we took her on an overnight/backpacking trip up there...we had an awesome time and she was a great conversation starter to say the least. ;) You can see an album of photos from that trip at: Flicka's return to Grayson Highlands & Mt Rogers | Facebook
We have also taken her to local parks here in NC. In some of the more popular parks, we had to stick to the horse trails...but we also took her to a few lesser known parks and hiked the dog/foot trails there. We have given her the past couple of months off after learning she might be in foal, but next spring we hope to hit the trails full force once again! :D
What a neat idea. Never thought of taking a mini. I'm partial to llamas as pack animals myself.. so I know nothing about it.. just found it interesting.
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