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Training for trail
I'm hoping to trail Slash for trail classes at the end of the summer. I was wondering, short of the bridges, mailboxes, gates, and cones, what else should I teach her? What should I start gathering myself for trail classes like attire?
I'm a gamer so this is completely new to me. Or I should say the training isn't but the actual competing is lol Does that make sense?
Overall, you need to teach your horse EXCELLENT body control. If you are backing through an "L" and need to adjust her left hind foot by an inch, you need to be able to cue her to do it.
Get really good at controlling her shoulders, ribcage, and hindquarters with your seat and legs. And really good and controlling where she places her feet. When you get that good body control, you can also teach your horse the necessary simply and flying lead changes for trail.
If you've got great control of your horse, then the trail obstacles themselves become fairly easy.
Agreed - exceptional body control is paramount. A horse who will willingly guide wherever you direct him despite potentially new objects/strange colors/movements/smells is necessary because it's highly unlikely you'll be able to expose your horse to everything that you'll see in a pattern.
Smooth, precise gait transitions require no props for practice, but putting out a few cones (or buckets, chairs, fence posts, poop pile, using any sort of visual marker) gives you something to aim at for precise timing of changes.
As has been mentioned in other posts here (search for "trail class" or "show trail",) trail patterns today are often a mass of poles - practice walk/trot/lope over poles while maintaining your rhythm & cadence. Set up a box of 4 poles to practice traveling over at all gaits. Practice trotting into the box with a nice smooth halt & turnaround inside - your horse really needs to be listening to you to know whether he should continuing moving through the box or stop inside it; he may start anticipate once you have asked him to stop in it a time or two. Practice your sidepass over these poles, too.
Check your the rule book for whatever organization is hosting your show to determine appropriate attire. Boots, hat and long sleeve shirt is generally the minimum requirement, which is likely similar to your existing gaming attire. There are other show clothing posts here if you want to get a different outfit, of course! Splint boots/bell boots/leg protection are usually not allowed on your horse, and you'll need to verify your bit's legality - those are two things that could potentially differ from your gaming competitions. Have fun!
You should be able to manuveur your horse in any direction and mostly to move straight forwards and backwards. Sidepassing and stopping in the middle of a sidepass are mandatory if you wish to open a gate. Julie Goodnight had a program about opening gates and where you need to be to do so safely.
I have taught MY horses to obey a voice command to "open the gate." We have small arguments are waiting for the cue bc they like to show off to me, but I let my horse push certain gates open, like the one in the training area. ALL calm obedience training makes a great trail competition horse! =D
Get yourself poles... And lots of them! Lol. Watch some YouTube videos and you can get some good ideas! Also look up different patterns.
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If you haven't worked with poles before, buy 4 bricks/one pole to secure them and keep them from rolling, two towards the front and two towards the back. You would hate for your horse to step on a pole and pull a muscle. I buy clearance bricks at Menard's for 4/$1.00 and sometimes 5/$1.00 =D
Thanks guys! Very helpful info! I'm still in the breaking stages of training but I hope to train her in trail. She's all ready very sensitive and knows how to move her body on the ground but in the saddle is a whole other thing lol
What should I wear? What should I get tack wise too? Figured I'd start saving up money for that stuff as soon as I could lol
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