I have a mare who will be three this December and I have wanted to take her trail riding in the mountains next spring/summer.
To start off, she's not a complete stranger to the outdoors, as she was born and raised 'till 9 months on an open range of approx. 600 acres, but it was a desert-ish area with few trees and tons of sagebrush. And I've taken her on small rides alongside fields and stuff.
What should I do to prepare her for a mountain trail? I live in Idaho so there's a lot of forest area and a lot of desert area, which would be best to start with? What should I look for in a good beginning trail?
She rides calmly around most things but occasionally gets spooked by new things.
Also, she is currently barefoot. Should I have her shod before trail riding, or would it be best to leave her barefoot? She has somewhat soft hooves that get chipped somewhat easily when walked on rocks.
Obviously I wouldn't be going overnight or anything, but what would be the best length to start her at? Any ideas of trails in my area I could use?