Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: Orange County, NC
Yes...ride, ride, ride. We ride our mares through everything from trails, woods, and country roads to suburban neighborhoods and the grocery store. When riding through parking lots and on road, people often ask me how you get a green 4 yr old like our filly, to the point of our seasoned, bomb proof, 14 yr old...the answer is 10 years of experience and a thousand miles of riding.
If you know someone with a seasoned trail horse, ride with them. A good, calm lead horse will 'teach' your horses faster than any trainer can. I often use our seasoned mare to pony our young ones when I'm alone.
For traffic, first of all, be *very* careful. There are a *lot* of jerks out there. If you can, start with low traffic roads that have a lot of space on the side of the road so your horse doesn't feel trapped, and you have the option to go away from the road instead of into it. To start, when you see a car coming, stop, let your horse watch it go by, then continue, and be aware that they may react differently to cars, trucks, motorcycles, etc depending on their sound, speed, and color. Be extra careful if you cross narrow bridges on the road that has traffic...not only can a horse feel trapped on a bridge, but they have a very different sound and feel.
Make sure you recognize when your horse is reaching it's 'tension limit'. You don't want to get into a fight with a scared horse...you'll both lose. When you need to, switch to doing something different, pick a different path, go back, etc. As long as you do this so that the horse thinks it was your idea (and not giving in), you won't be reinforcing a behavior you don't want.
Lastly, realize that are hundreds of 'horse monsters' in the real world for your horse to see and experience that tax their instincts, but with practice and patience, you will be tremendously rewarded with a horse that you can ride anywhere.
On the sixth day, God created the Quarter Horse.
On the seventh day, he Painted the good ones.