NOT trail riding? EVER?! - Page 12 - The Horse Forum
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post #111 of 153 Old 05-30-2013, 01:10 PM
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Not everyone has access to trails. I'd love to go on a trail ride but very few barns in my area have access to wooded paths, and those that do are far away and the land isn't that large. The trail ride would end up being like 15 minutes one way.

There are wooded paths that are open to trail riders but they are at least a 60 min drive (not horrible), but not as simple as hoping on your horse and heading out directly to the woods. For those reasons trail riding isn't that popular in my area. It's not always a question of whether you want, but is it even accessible?

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post #112 of 153 Old 05-30-2013, 01:46 PM
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Originally Posted by Hidalgo13 View Post
There are wooded paths that are open to trail riders but they are at least a 60 min drive (not horrible), but not as simple as hoping on your horse and heading out directly to the woods. For those reasons trail riding isn't that popular in my area. It's not always a question of whether you want, but is it even accessible?
The access to trail is probably one of the biggest things preventing people who want to take their horses on trail, from being able to do so. Some of it is due to closure of land that used to be open to riders, or sometimes it's just lack of parks that offer enough trail distance to make it worth the drive.

For me, if it's under ten miles, it's not really worth hauling an hour just to get there and ride for the day. Only possible exception might be the 8 mile loop trail at Liberty, IN - just because it's VERY well maintained, perfect for our gaited horses, and we get there early enough to ride it twice. We do one loop, go back to the trailer and eat lunch while the horses take a break, then hop back on and ride it in reverse. Not exactly a technically challenging ride, but good for getting horses in shape. Plus, you get to ride alongside the main public campground area for a hundred yards or so; dogs, fire pits, tents, awnings, kids on bikes, and a whole bunch of other spook-worthy things.

Along the same lines as the OP - even among trail riders there are differences in what kind of trail people prefer. Personally, I like some challenges along the way. . .but some of the trails I like, other trail riders might call a "goat path" or "mule path" because it's narrow, with lots of roots and boulders and steep hills and places that require the horse to think about where it's putting its feet. Moving along on my little gaited horse is fun, but I start to get bored if it's nothing but flat wide-open trail - but for other people, that's as much "adventure" as they want, and that's fine, too.
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post #113 of 153 Old 05-30-2013, 02:08 PM Thread Starter
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When I started this post, I was never intending to put down other disciplines. I was simply under the impression that most people, given the opportunity, wanted to trail ride. Some people got very offended by my ignorance, others took it as an opportunity to open up dialogue about the benefits of trail riding. This post is doing a fantastic job of showing that different people have different goals and ideals, and apart from a few rude people, I have enjoyed reading each post and gaining a greater understanding of the horse riding community. While everyone has differing opinions we all really have the same goal: to become better riders.

After all, there are two kinds of people in this world: Horse people, and the other kind.
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post #114 of 153 Old 05-30-2013, 03:43 PM
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I've seen many horses (on trail and in the arena) that are really heavy on the forehand, and what they do with their hind legs is more like an afterthought. The horse's head may "look pretty" with an arched neck and tucked chin, but it's not true collection.
Yeah, that is the root of the problem I have getting my head around arena riding (except as practice): that from the outside it's a lot more about looking pretty than anything else.

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Trail riding is great for that - you can feel that "power" from the hindquarters when you climb a steep hill, right?
Maybe it's that I don't know what to look for, or maybe that when climbing I'm concentrating on staying balanced over her shoulders and not paying attention to what the back end is doing, but from memory it seems most of the power is coming from the front legs.

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Anything that can make you a better rider, or your horse a better horse, is worth trying.
In theory, but there's the question of what gets most "bang for buck" in terms of time & energy invested.
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post #115 of 153 Old 05-30-2013, 04:11 PM
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Collection can be roughly defined as the horse moving its center of gravity to the rear and supporting more of its weight with its rear legs. At an extreme form, a collected gait takes years of training and has little or no use on a trail. However, a modest shift to the rear can help the horse move relaxed and balanced. Mia likes to get so heavy on the forehand that she will stumble even on level ground. The trails around here are too uneven and rocky for teaching her, so we've been working on it in an arena. Our goal is nothing like dressage collection. I just want her to shift enough weight to the rear that she won't fall down.

A "normal" horse would probably know that from having run around in the open before without a rider. I don't think Mia was ever out of a corral. So she has to be taught how to canter without stumbling. She is getting much better in the arena, which will make her safer to ride on the trail.

A modest level of collection is also helpful for a horse to canter in a tight turn, or to trot thru a tight turn. So if you want to be able to move in a trot or canter in tight spaces, then some collection is pretty important.

You will also see a lot of horses balance themselves in a turn by holding their nose outside the turn to balance their shoulder falling in on the turn. Trooper used to do this, and he had worked cattle and sheep on a ranch, to include cutting cattle. I rode him in the arena doing figure 8s and trotting thru the turns balanced (nose tipped slightly in and pushing more with his rear - mild collection) until he figured out that it is just a better, more efficient way to carry himself. Now he does it on the trail, where his improved balance helps him stay underneath my youngest daughter. It would be tough to teach that to a horse on a trail, but it helps them once they know.

The better the horse can balance with a rider, the bigger the margin of safety when the horse has balance issues on the trail. At least at my beginner level, I find balance easier for me to practice and my horses to learn in an arena than just hoping they can pull it off when something happens on the trail.

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post #116 of 153 Old 05-30-2013, 05:08 PM
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As a trail rider, I want a horse that is balanced - actively using his front and hind legs, with most of the impulsion and energy coming from the hind end.
Trail riding is great for that - you can feel that "power" from the hindquarters when you climb a steep hill, right?
.
My husband has this big hunky Paint gelding. He has the power climb down. It's fun to be riding and feel him shift down and climb. Fun to be behind him and watch too, but more fun to be sitting there.
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post #117 of 153 Old 05-30-2013, 05:39 PM
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Not everyone that rides has prepared their horses for the trails. My 7yo KMH was first ponied in a close by state park, and then ridden there as a 2yo by the breeders who were breeding KMH's and RMH's primarily for trail riding. When it is introduced early and in safe company, any horse can take to trail riding. ANY new activity that you want to have your horse participate in is spooky and scary for the horse. It is always best to have a calm, seasoned, older horse accompany them the first time bc they will start wondering why they are afraid when the other horse doesn't wince.
There was a notion in the horse industry that if a horse didn't excel at a sport then they could "ALWAYS" be a trail horse. That's like if you don't get a job in your major you could always _____, some nondescript vocation that you might not like.
My 7yo QH hasn't been trail riding more than once and that was 1/4 mile up the road. He just isn't listening well enough, yet. As we work this year, I will take some short jaunts up the driveway to the street and back, then a little further and back, always working on something like lateral work to keep him listening. Some of the worst accidents have happened when a scared horse bolted back to the barn with a scared rider and the rider gets hit by a car running across a highway, or knocked into a fence or a gate or the top of the opening of a shelter, etc. I've been training my other 7yo gelding to never even think about ducking inside my shelter with a rider, by positioning another person, on the ground in front of the shelter, with a lunge whip and walking forward with the whip while I ride past the shelter. THIS kind of training really helps you as a trail rider.
It really takes the best behaved horses to give you a pleasurable trail ride. Anything less and you're rolling the dice on your safety.
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post #118 of 153 Old 05-30-2013, 05:46 PM
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I'm not allowed to trail ride. Trainer says it teaches both of us bad habits. I have to do everything like I'm in a show, or I won't get better. I'm also not allowed to lunge sinceall it does is tire the horses out.
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post #119 of 153 Old 05-30-2013, 06:17 PM
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^^^ I'd dump the trainer. But I'm an old fart who wouldn't take well to that sort of instruction.

"Make the right thing easy and the wrong thing...well, ignore it mostly."
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post #120 of 153 Old 05-31-2013, 01:51 AM
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Originally Posted by Kotori View Post
I'm not allowed to trail ride. Trainer says it teaches both of us bad habits. I have to do everything like I'm in a show, or I won't get better. I'm also not allowed to lunge since all it does is tire the horses out.
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Time to start looking for a new trainer and to do some research. I'd ask to see the trainer's license assuming one is needed where you are to teach.
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