Originally Posted by Heelsdown
Last week we were out on a trail that wasn't much of a trail. The regular trail was horribly muddy and flooded in spots so we did a trail that wasn't all that blazed.
In some spots the trees were a couple of inches away on each side of me and I kept bumping them, but thankfully not that hard.
So say a tree is coming up closer on my left side and I want to avoid hitting my knee, I know I'm going to give pressure with my left leg/foot.
If I'm riding with two hands using English type reins, I always pulled with my left hand, kind of bending the horse's head to me and the combo of left leg, left rein helped me avoid the tree.
But last week I had split reins that were in a knot and I was neck reining. I'm still not good at this. After a year of English, both of my hands want to do something. What would be the best way to turn a horse away from a tree with this type of rein?
Same scenario, tree is coming up on my left.
1. Never get your horse and yourself between two trees (or rocks) that you know you can't fit thru. Even if the "trail" is muddy, find another, more exciting by-pass that nobody's been on yet.
If the rider is about to get skinned by a tree, someone please tell me what's wrong with very quickly getting your foot out of the stirrup, pulling your knee up and bending your leg?
If a low hanging branch is involved --- I have owned seven Keeper Horses in my lifetime and schooled a lot more on the trails. There isn't one of them that didn't (or doesn't) know to put their head down when I gently press on the top of their neck. If the branch is really low, I will lay down on the side of the horse and under we go.
2. My apologies to the proper rider but I am sorry -- "Heels down, back straight, shoulders square" goes right out the window on a trail unless you're hacking down a horse interstate, a/k/a some Metro park with exquistely groomed trails.
Smelling the roses and staying on the horse while only looking reasonably professional is the name of the game.
3. All my horses neck rein - with just a flick of a pinky finger. They know leg cues and seat cues to negotiate around tight tree turns or thru rocks that most people wouldn't walk their dogs thru.
If your hands are getting in your own way, put a mitten on one hand so you can't use two hands as easily. My knee-jerk reply was really going to be tape one hand behind your back in the arena or roundpen until you've got neck reining with one hand down pat but, the more timid folks might find that a bit extreme - lol lol
All my horses (and the folks I ride with) got all their schooling out on the trail - there are some things in trail riding life that neither the rider nor the horse are going to learn on a lunge line in a round pen.
I have taken horses that weren't even sure what "whoa, go or back" meant and put them on the tail end of an organized weekend ride. By Sunday night they were pros at knowing what needed to be done.
Someone came to buy a saddle from me; he was an experienced rider so I let him ride the horse the saddle fit. He could not believe how quick and responsive Joker was to the reins. Wanted to know what training methods were used on Joker.
I quietly commented the folks I bought him from train exactly like I do -- get them in the woods and have at it.
Horse should know "whoa, go, back up" and some neck reining. For my part if they're green on all that stuff, that's ok, I'll teach them on the trail. I am not a fan of "plow driving" unless I have a team hitched.
All a horse is needs to have down pat are those three things to get started trail riding. While the rest is up to the rider, it does do a world of good if one has the privlege of taking a very seasoned trail horse AND rider along to make the green horse more comfortable and willing