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Breeds for Trail Riding?

This is a discussion on Breeds for Trail Riding? within the Trail Riding forums, part of the Riding Horses category
  • Best horse breeds for trail riding
  • Least spooky breed of horse

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    03-26-2012, 03:14 PM
  #91
Foal
My experience is that no matter the breed, or sex, or even age matters, it's all in the training and attitude of your horse. (how you ride plays a part too) I really liked what ladytrails said about the different breeds. There are some characteristics in a breed that is true from one horse to the next, but I think it has to do with experience. If you want a trail horse, then look for a trail horse who has miles. Unless you are experienced and want a challenge HA HA.

There are all sorts of bias out there and everybody thinks their horse is the best. I looked for a horse for over a year. I rode all different breeds and they all had good and bad qualities. I started to concentrate on finding a TWH because of the gait and they are supposed to be good with kids. He is great with kids, but not so good on the trail. He gaits just fine, but getting him to do it is more than just hopping on and going (as I did with my Morgan), it's something that I need to constantly keep him in check with. (along with being on my toes in case something spooks him which is all the time!) If you are buying a trail horse, make sure to try him on the trail, not all sellers have the time to let you do this. One didn't even let me ride!

I have been told that gaited=highstrung=spooky and do not agree in the least! I do however think there are horses out there more suited for the show ring. My best advice is to not concentrate on a specific breed, just look for the qualities that you need in a forever friend. Don't feel pressured to make up your mind on the first visit, go back again and again, if time alots. Try all different kinds to find the right one for you. GOOD LUCK and HAPPY TRAILS!
     
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    03-26-2012, 08:13 PM
  #92
Green Broke
Quote:
Originally Posted by jennyandjesse    
He gaits just fine, but getting him to do it is more than just hopping on and going (as I did with my Morgan), it's something that I need to constantly keep him in check with. (along with being on my toes in case something spooks him which is all the time!)
Two quick comments. First is for me, that's the difference between a naturally gaited walker and one that has to be trained. I'll watch them screw around in the pasture, those that do a bit of everything often have to worked on to keep in gait. Those that only gait in the pasture only gait under saddle.

Second, if you are on your toes all the time waiting for your horse to spook he'll feel and sense your tenseness. The trick is to be prepared but stay relaxed so as to not let your horse pick up on it. That also includes not staring down things you think he might spook at. Believe it or not, he's watching you and when you look at something he will too. Keep your eyes down trail and moving.
     
    09-07-2012, 10:08 PM
  #93
Weanling
Do yourself a favor and get a walker.

I started out riding a morgan with a bone jarring trot. My buddy rides a walker mare. That at 19 yrs of age will out walk anything she has ever been with. My morgan had to trot almost continously to keep up. And he really wasnt trying to pull away from me. But that morgan mare was bombproof. Scared of nothing, didnt shy, good hard feet, would go anywhere you pointed her head etc. etc. but if riding hurts you, you aint going to ride long.
I bought my walker mare and am really enjoying life. And for what its worth, I still enjoy the scenery, IMO can ride slow, or pick up the pace when I want to,,, ride in the mtns, some of the trails are rough, you don't want or need a fast gait for that type of riding, yet its still a very comfortable ride.

Its just my personal opinion, and nothing more, but for the life of me, I don't see why anyone would want a trotting horse.
     
    09-08-2012, 10:42 AM
  #94
Weanling
Also keep in mind that "a good horse is never a bad color."

That may not be seen as "true" in some show disciplines, but when you're on the trail it shouldn't matter how splashy and flashy your horse's coat color and markings are. The color isn't what's carrying you.

I know some people who won't buy or ride a horse unless it is an unusual color, or a painted/spotted horse, or has some other crazy markings or unique color. I guess that's fine, and it's personal preference, but they're really missing out on some great horses.

I've been to gaited horse sales/auctions where the "color" horses sell for high $$$ even when the horse's "gait" is pure pace, or they have some glaring conformation issues. The bids just keep climbing.

The plain-jane solid colored horses with good conformation and natural, flowing gait are almost ignored unless the auctioneer knows the seller and really pushes the horse or its pedigree.

My 14 year old little TWH is solid black with just a few "sprinkles" of white hair where a star would be. You can't even see them until you get close. He bleaches to something more like a weird dark bay in ths summer with copper tips in his mane and tail, which is fine with me because I don't ride the color. I ride the horse. And I have a good one.
     
    09-08-2012, 10:53 AM
  #95
Foal
My best trail horse I ever had was a mix breed of God only knows what breeds of horses. She looked like a paint/TB/mustang to me, MAYBE. I have no clue. My point is that it depends on the horse, not the blood. You want something that doesn't spook easily, will go over/under/through any obstacle, and is easy going. Trail riding is more fun when you can test your horse on obstacles that you know he/she will pass. My horse, Dusty, is a western horse, but he's a trail jumper, will walk through cedar trees while branches are all in his face, won't spook at rabbits or deer, has walked right under a train track while the train was on it, and much much more. The only way to know if a horse is good on trails is to take it on trails. Not look at his papers.
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    09-08-2012, 11:55 AM
  #96
Weanling
IMO what constitutes a good trail horse is sheer comfort in riding. Im not into long distance cometition and I don't try to climb a sheer rock wall. So comfort is of utmost importance. I enjoy a good pace too. A dead head creep is not "fun" to ride either. I like a little life in a horse with out getting bounced around in a trot. And I don't want to have to post just to keep from getting beat up. That's why a good gaited horse is for me.
     
    09-08-2012, 12:20 PM
  #97
Green Broke
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jolly Badger    
Also keep in mind that "a good horse is never a bad color."

That may not be seen as "true" in some show disciplines, but when you're on the trail it shouldn't matter how splashy and flashy your horse's coat color and markings are. The color isn't what's carrying you.

I know some people who won't buy or ride a horse unless it is an unusual color, or a painted/spotted horse, or has some other crazy markings or unique color. I guess that's fine, and it's personal preference, but they're really missing out on some great horses.

I've been to gaited horse sales/auctions where the "color" horses sell for high $$$ even when the horse's "gait" is pure pace, or they have some glaring conformation issues. The bids just keep climbing.

The plain-jane solid colored horses with good conformation and natural, flowing gait are almost ignored unless the auctioneer knows the seller and really pushes the horse or its pedigree.

My 14 year old little TWH is solid black with just a few "sprinkles" of white hair where a star would be. You can't even see them until you get close. He bleaches to something more like a weird dark bay in ths summer with copper tips in his mane and tail, which is fine with me because I don't ride the color. I ride the horse. And I have a good one.
There's a saying in the TW world, you don't ride their looks.
     
    09-08-2012, 11:43 PM
  #98
Foal
I have ridden many different breeds, but the one that stands out to me is my tennessee walker who was an abandonment (and more than likely abuse) case. I wasnt quite sure what to think of my twh/pinto when I first got him, because he was eight and never been ridden before. I spent two weeks riding him and found out that yes, he is gaited, and since then it is true love for me. I have worked with many abuse cases, but none "came back" from it like he did. I have also met my friends abuse case, a paso fino mare, and rode her too. The gaited horses are definitely geared towards speed and comfort of the rider, and are very sensitive and careful with their rider. I have ridden my twh for two days (8-hours+ per day) straight, and wasnt sore at all. His "gait" can match my moms arab/friesian (16 hands) at a canter.
     
    09-11-2012, 01:19 PM
  #99
Weanling
Believe it or not, I actually got through almost all the posts on this thread. I skipped the last couple pages because it was just the same info over and over.

Thought I'd at my 2 cents worth.

Almost all the threads have been about horses, because the opening thread was asking what is the best trail breed. Everybody has their opinion based on their own experience. So, the thing that needs to be asked is this: What kind of trail riding do you intend to do with the horse?

A lot of the talk has been about speed. My uncle was an USFS worker who guided hunts in southern Utah and did a lot of back country riding in his spare time. Once a bunch of my nephews and nieces visited him and were out riding his horses. When he came home from work and they told him how much fun they had cantering up and down the road, he exclaimed, "I'm surprised they didn't get bucked off! Those horses don't even know they can canter!" In other words, he had no use for anything other than a walk, and occasionally a trot, on the trails he rode. I find that I train my horses to canter and change leads just as a training matter. I never go above a trot out on a trail. Most of the trails I have ridden in my life would not allow anything above a slow jog safely. On the other hand, I can't stand a horse that won't keep up a steady walk.

If all your riding is on developed and maintained trails, I would suggest you go with the breed your riding partners and friends have. That will save you a lot of frustration as far as matching gaits.

If most of your riding is in the mountains on poorly maintained rough trails, having a horse that paces or maintains an 8-9 mph run-walk will find little use for that gait.

I have used 1/2 Arab/QHs, QHs, mustangs, and other grade horses (mostly QH type). I have enjoyed them all and they have all done well in the mountains.

As for steady and calm, I have to say my 1/2 Arab/QH stallion was the best. He was only about 14 hands at age 2 when I started training him. He had the smoothest jog of any horse I ever rode. We were jogging along one day with the family, on their tall QHs, when Char (my Arab) put his nose down to sniff the trail as he jogged along. He suddenly stopped dead in his tracks and I nearly went over the front. When he wouldn't go on, I noticed his ears were working back and forth like he was confused. He wouldn't lift his head. When I got off to take a look, I found he had stepped through his rawhide bosal with his front left. He looked at me like, "Well, help me out of this!", but stood quietly. I lifted his hoof out of the bosal and we kept on going. What a wreck that might have been with another horse.

I had a registered QH mare with excellent "Bar" breeding that would outwalk any other horse I ever rode or rode with, for distance and speed. She stood a little over 15 hands. She once brought my dad and me out of the mountains on a dangerous trail when it was so dark we could not see each other. I wouldn't have sold her for a million bucks that night. Later on in her life, as she approached 17-18 years old, she began to suffer from cramps and would "bind-up". When that happened she would literally explode and go to pieces in a blind panic. That became so dangerous I had to quit taking her on rides. Her son, also a registered QH with great breeding, developed the same malady as he approached 16 years. Binding-up has a technical name, but I forget it right now, but it is a malady that has shown up in QHs from time to time.

My Dad has a QH with championship cutter breeding that stands about 14 hands or maybe less. He will go anywhere you want to point him (so don't point him places you are not sure you want to go!) and he can walk as fast as any horse I know. He will keep up with and even outwalk 16-hand horses on the trail. He is one of the most personable horses I have known.

I had a mustang that was great on the trail. Never, and I mean never, got hurt. He could live in a field of barbed wire and never get a scratch. Stood about 14.2 or so. My only complaint with him was that heading east he walked slow and I would have to keep after him to keep up a good pace. Walking west, he would walk fast. Didn't matter where we were. All I can figure was that he was raised on the Navajo Reservation, or somewhere west of New Mexico and he was going home when he headed west.

As I get older, I don't think much about speed, except that I like a fast walk. I have found that I don't like registered horses, no matter the breed. Same with dogs. It seems to me that registered horses and dogs have cost me way too much time and money in vet bills. Grade horses and dogs seem to be heartier and healthier. For me, when I go looking for a horse, I look for good conformation, healthy hooves, a soft eye, and good personality. I also try to assess whether the horse has ever had a serious injury. Since registered breeds are often used in competitive sports, such as jumping, roping, barrels, etc, you often see folks selling them after a serious injury that precludes them from continuing competition. You seldom see that kind of thing with grade horses. I could care less about breeding as long as the body-type is what I'm looking for. I just want a horse that will be willing to go and will carry me or my loved ones safely through rough country.

Attached is a picture of my daughter on a 7 year-old grade mare I am training for her in VA. The horse with her is a friend's registered QH at age 20. The other pic is the little QH cutter I mentioned in the White Mountains of AZ.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg 2012-06-08 11.32.22.jpg (97.3 KB, 63 views)
File Type: jpg My Horse Trip 286.jpg (95.8 KB, 65 views)
     
    09-11-2012, 01:38 PM
  #100
Yearling
The American Saddlebred was hands down the best horse that I ever rode on trails. They are gentle, smooth, sure footed and tolerant. Of course training is important, that is true for all breeds. I would look into Saddlebreds and try out a few. They tend to impress those who give them a chance.
     

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