let horse choose gait on trail?
I'm wondering if anybody lets their horse choose the gait when out on trail? Most people i have asked have almost yelled NO, NEVER. But I know my buddies who are mounted search and rescue folks always do. Now I'm wondering what y'all do.... And if you do, when/why?
I would say letting a Horse choose how fast they want to go is dangerous, Horse's need Control for the safety of the Rider.... JMHO
I find it questionable that the mounted search and rescue people "always" do as the very point of doing search and rescue is to do cover your grid in a controlled manner so as not to miss anything while still covering the ground as efficiently as possible - which means being in control of the rate at which your horse is traveling.
There are times it is safe to "give the horse his/her head" and let them pick up the pace if they want, but there are also times where it would be incredibly dangerous for the rider NOT to be the one choosing the speed at which to cover a particular area of ground. Personally, if I am getting the feeling that my horse is up for a good run I will find an area where that would be safe and allow them to pick up the pace if they want.
Are you talking about letting them gait? Since you have a gaited horse. Or are you talking about just letting them go do what they want?
I do not have a gaited horse but if I let her go her pace it will be run. She will run down a hill if I let her. Then on the way home it would be bolt.
Perhaps 'always' is too strong of a word - in conversation they were saying they have to focus on their job, scanning with their eyes, etc. and they trust their horses to choose gait. I guess this idea just kind of jumped out at me b/c it isn't something I've considered before (with the exception of situations like you mention; so I know at the straight away my horse will want to canter and I let her, but I still feel I made the decision!).
I was on a trail ride a few months ago, and this is when the idea hit home - we had been told the riding was great and we got there and it was terrible. There were points on the trail when I was wrapped around that mares neck and couldn't see a dang thing (growth overhead); add in downpouring rain, bad footing and spots narrow enough for a bike, not a horse (boy was I black and blue). Go off trail and go down a nice ravine - I have never been so terrified in my entire life - ever. I have a new found feeling for being able to truly trust a horse; it's usually about getting the horse to trust me and count on me (in training, in general) but that day, it was all about me trusting her...
I guess my question was a little vague: I guess I am wondering if you are on a trail how often or when you would give your horse their head - maybe that is what I should say instead ...
I don't exactly let her pick her pace, as I have to consistently speed er walk up to an actual walk on every trail..she just lags. If we get to behind though I'll drop my reins on her neck (with my hand still on them) and give her her head. She knows that when I stop with my hands she's allowed to do her pleasure trot. So, technically I cued her, but it's a lazy ass way of doing it, lol. I'll occasionally cluck if she doesn't get the idea, but I've only had to twice after I started dropping the reins. My reins are usually gathered up to the point of almost having contact (because she has taken off in the arena before and I'd rather not chance it with a cliff and tree branches all over the trail, lol), an when I drop them she can choose to jog or go into a working trot if she'd like. In the arena it's different though, she will only walk on a loose rein as that's all we've ever done on a loose rein in the arena (always at a show) because of the taking off. I don't anticipate it and I know she normally does good (so I know it's not me), but I like to have my reins gathered a little more if we're going to be doing more than walk, and she's gotten the idea from 4 months of the same thing, lol.
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Well if you aren't on a trail or things get iffy like that I will give my horse the reins and she will get us out. That has happened a few times and she will go slow then. But on a trail I only ever give her her head when I am prepared to run. As soon as I drop those reins on a groomed trail she is gone.
Sometimes I will let Biscuit choose the speed of his walk....that is about it. He will speed up his trot in a flash at times when he is supposed to be jogging. Mostly he is a good boy but he is still a horse!
I always reserve the right to tell my horse what speed I want. But sometimes when she's nervous, she wants to trot or prance for a while. If I fight her on that, it becomes a fight and it becomes a big deal. If I let her, she normally calms down after a couple hundred yards. But if she goes to a canter without being asked, I shut her down because an unasked for canter almost always turns into an unasked for gallop, so I stop her and have her loop back for a minute.
Don't know if I do it the right way or not. My gelding will just wait and do what he is told, but he has a very different personality than my mare.
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