English riders do you ride on contact on the trails? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 24 Old 08-26-2013, 10:44 AM Thread Starter
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English riders do you ride on contact on the trails?

My guy has been great on the trails for the last several months.
But last week he managed to trip, go down on one knee, and got back up. I think he tripped on a tree root, and he was wearing one of those black mesh fly masks. The trail is both in the shade and in the sun. And when we walk on the trails I usually have him on a loose rein. He has a great forward walk but is probably on the forehand.

Should I be on a contact and be aware of half halting while on the trail to rebalance him? What do you do?
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post #2 of 24 Old 08-26-2013, 11:07 AM
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While I think it's nice for trails to be relaxing for horse and rider, I don't think it's such a good idea to be riding out with long, loose reins. There are usually more things out there to trip on and spook at. I do ride with contact on the trails, but not as much as I do when we're in the arena. If your horse goes down or takes off, you can't effectively use your reins to help them, because they aren't there.

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post #3 of 24 Old 08-26-2013, 11:12 AM
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My horse can be a bit spooky, so I typically ride with contact.
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post #4 of 24 Old 08-26-2013, 11:34 AM
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I vary between them. I ask him to do some things, like stop, back up, sidle left/right, come onto the bit, slow down, then walk on. And when he does a couple, I give him a long rein and let him go on the buckle for a bit. But, I change things up with the contact. And, it depends on how he feels. whether he's worrying about things in the bushes or not.

if the horse is tripping a lot, then you might have to ask him to walk with more push from behind and more balance . If you do, then try to find other times to be able to offer him a long, loose rein ans a reward. Certainly, when standing around.
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post #5 of 24 Old 08-26-2013, 12:10 PM
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I trail ride all of my horses the same way with the same equipment as I do when I school. After awhile--I mean YEARS--my horses pick up that a slack rein means walk and relax, and if I pick up the reins and the contact, we're moving out to the trot or canter. Still, it means the same as I ask for and ride in the arena--NO SURPRISES for my horses on the trail. =D

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post #6 of 24 Old 08-26-2013, 12:23 PM
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I've spent most of my riding life in the UK riding on roads that are either really busy or narrow country lanes with a 60mph speed limit where you never know whats likely to be coming round a bend at the same time as your horse hops over just a few inches because a killer sparrow leapt out
Because of this by habit I do tend to always ride with some contact - albeit light - and I find it really hard to have long loose reins especially as my horses aren't used to it
I do allow them to relax and I try relax myself though I am always alert and listening to them, if a horse does spook I don't want them to get into the habit of doing anything more than a small jump forward or sideways
I can remember reading ages ago that many head & neck injuries in falls happen when the horse just tripped and went down and the rider got ejected over the neck or shoulder.
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post #7 of 24 Old 08-26-2013, 04:25 PM
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I used to do hunter/jumper and my lesson group went on a trail ride.my instructor told me to ride with a loose rein because the horse i was riding was bombproof.well a tarp caught in a tree scared her and she bucked and bolted. I fell off and her back hooves hit my right knee.my ligaments didnt heal correctly and ive got arthritis in my knee.i stopped doing hunter/jumper because my knee will swell up and it gets painful.So after that experience id recommend to anybody to ride with contact,you never know whats going to happen.
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post #8 of 24 Old 08-26-2013, 05:58 PM
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I admire you folks in the UK deal with all that on the road. it takes cajones!
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post #9 of 24 Old 08-26-2013, 08:38 PM
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I don't ride with contact on the trail unless I'm telling my horse to do something. I expect my horse to have the sense to walk and continue walking on a lose rein. I do the same thing at the trot and canter; I set the speed and only pick up the reins if my horse needs a talking to. I believe trail horses should be given some responsibility. My trail horses' jobs are to follow the trail and navigate the terrain without my having to babysit them.

I especially keep a lose rein through rough stuff. Horses know how to use their heads and necks to balance themselves better than I do.

Also, it's not like the reins aren't still there. If my horse bolts or spooks, I will take half a second to pick up that slack.
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post #10 of 24 Old 08-26-2013, 09:05 PM
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I vary throughout my ride- usually I have light contact, looser than I would ride with in the arena. When we're just ambling along on a nice flat stretch I'll let the reins out, and if we encounter something that makes my horse nervous I'll take a little more contact.
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