Getting ready to hit the trails?
Hey guys, for the future, I was wondering what I can do to prepare my mare for the trails.
What do you do to get your horse ready to go out and about, and how do you know/feel they're ready?
The best thing is to just go out with an experienced, confident trail horse and you should have no problem at all.
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Oh right, thanks :-)
Desensitize to as much weird stuff as you can before you go out on the actual trail.
Gates, bridges, mailboxes, bags, sudden sounds, animals (dogs) loose, people behind stuff. Anything you think you might meet on the trail, try to find an equivalent way to desensitize to it at home.
Also, mounting from strange objects (rocks, stumps, sides of hills).
Most of all, be the confident leader your horse needs you to be.
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Thanks Drafty, I'll start doing some desens work and get her feet moving too hehe
Make sure she also knows how to stand tied, and be patient. If you need to hop off to "use the restroom/find a bush" on a longer ride, or just take a break at a rest stop, you'll want a horse that isn't going to be prancing all over the place.
Be sure your horse will do okay with other horses passing by on trail, either from behind or oncoming traffic.
She should be responsive to you - and you should know how she is inclined to react if she does spook. Some horses want to spook and bolt, others will shy suddenly (and drop a shoulder when they do), while still others may spook but hold their ground.
Get a lot of practice mounting and dismounting from the ground if you are used to using a mounting block. While I generally prefer to find something to mount from (like a log or rock or stump), sometimes there just isn't anything available. Also, try mounting/dismounting on your horse's "off-side."
Try riding with a rain slicker, or some other fabric draped over the horse's hindquarters. Make sure your horse is used to seeing you and other people wearing "flappy" clothing like an outback coat or poncho. Even simple things, like getting her used to the sight and sound of a map being opened (on the ground, and on her back) are helpful. You wouldn't believe how many people I've run into on trail whose horses freak out when the rider tries to open a trail map to check their position.
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