teaching alone trail riding - Page 7

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teaching alone trail riding

This is a discussion on teaching alone trail riding within the Trail Riding forums, part of the Riding Horses category

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    04-20-2013, 04:47 PM
Green Broke
Groundwork will teach a horse that to respond and yield to your cues, and to respect you. I certainly wouldn't ride out on a horse that I felt I couldn't control to some degree. However, I don't think you necessarily build trust in an arena.
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    04-21-2013, 01:00 AM
Originally Posted by Sahara    
Ah, I think we are having a break through, james! You are controlling your horse, you are just calling it something different. You want to call it directing the intention, fine.
Yes, but the point I've been trying to make is that I'm controlling the horse, not the horse's body parts. She controls those, and does what is necessary to carry out the intent that I've communicated to her.

What happened at the creek? She balked because she didn't want to cross. You did whatever you had to do to get her across the creek. Even if you had to get off and lead her across, you were controlling her feet.
I suppose in a sense, but I just don't think of it that way. What I controlled was her willingness to cross (presumably because I'd spent a lot of time walking with her on a lead, and when she could see me step across, she knew it was ok). Whether she made a small jump or just took a long step was irrelevant that time. (I'm still far from 100% at being able to tell her whether to step across something, or jump it.) Nor do I really think of it in terms of control, more like persuasion, but I suppose that's just a language thing.

What I am not suggesting is that all horses should automatically just do what I say. First, it is my job to teach them what my aids mean.
Sure, though I'm kind of coming at it from the opposite direction: she has lots more experience at being a horse than I do at riding, so it's more a matter of me figuring out what aids she's been trained to understand.

How do you turn a horse without controlling the shoulder and hip? You say you pick up the reins and apply pressure. Or maybe a leg aid is applied. That, my friend, is controlling the horse's body parts.
Depends on how much of a turn I want. If it's something like weaving through trees, it's maybe a little pressure on the reins & a bit of shifting body weight. Sometimes I'm not even fully aware that I'm doing anything, it's almost like she's reading my mind. Other times, as for instance when I want her to turn and ride away from the other horses (which I try to do a time or two on most rides), I have to get a good bit more emphatic with rein & leg. That's more like what I'd call control.
    04-21-2013, 04:10 PM
Originally Posted by jamesqf    
Yes, but the point I've been trying to make is that I'm controlling the horse, not the horse's body parts. .
For me, there isn't a distinction between the horse and it's body parts. I treat it as a whole, including the mind and spirit.
    04-21-2013, 04:27 PM
What you all don't seem to get is that you cannot control a horse if you cannot move every part of it, for example, move the hip, shoulder, etc. It is, in the simplest way-a sum of its parts.
flytobecat and Sahara like this.
    04-21-2013, 04:40 PM
In reading, I often notice a difference in how those sports focused on arena riding describe things, and how trail riders tend to describe it. Lots of books discuss controlling the horse's parts, but they mostly are focused on arena riding. When you ride in front of a judge, getting each step and pace just right is the difference in winning or not.

Most trail riders describe setting the goals for the horse - down this trail this way, up the hill at this point, etc. And then the horse is expected to figure out how to get the job done.

Riding Mia today (who has now gone two rides in a row without doing a single OMG Crouch...I wonder if she is sick ), what part of the trail she walked on or how we got up some small but steep spots was totally up to her. All I did was indicate where I wanted to be 20-30 seconds later...the how was up to her. The only hard rule I enforced today was that all stops had to be done right away, with feet squared up, and we weren't going anywhere until the tension left her back. Other than that, we spent the morning with a slack rein and a lot of freedom for her. If she really started to fixate somewhere, I'd tap the reins and then have her trot or stop & look back at me.

I don't even know the names of most maneuvers. I have no idea how to signal 'put a foot there'. If we need to move sideways off the trail, I just kind of shove with one leg while not letting her go forward. There is usually a reason for it (approaching ATV, typically) and she usually figures it out. If I tried to move her sideways in an arena, I don't think she would be able to figure it out. What makes it work on the trail is that I'm suggesting something that makes sense for what is going on, and those external cues help her to understand and go along.

Maybe someday we'll reach a higher level of riding. Me? Heck, I'm celebrating 2 rides in a row without an OMG Crouch! In 4 years, I think that is the longest we've ever gone....
    04-21-2013, 04:59 PM
^^^^^^ Yes!

Bsms...I think my Missy is a twin of your Mia.
    04-21-2013, 05:01 PM
Originally Posted by franknbeans    
What you all don't seem to get is that you cannot control a horse if you cannot move every part of it, for example, move the hip, shoulder, etc. It is, in the simplest way-a sum of its parts.
Sorry. I cannot tell Mia to move her right shoulder to spot X. But we can and do ride. My daughter cannot tell Trooper to move his left hip over to spot Y either, but Trooper has a lot of miles of riding on ranches and with my daughter. That may well mean we're low-level riders, but Trooper will go most anywhere you point him at, and Mia is slowly improving. I've spent too many hours working on Mia's confidence outside the arena to put trail riding on hold until I can put her right shoulder over point X on command. The beauty of trail riding is that most of what I ask her has a reason for it, and she appreciates that.

Ask her to do figure 8s around cones in an arena, and Mia will get pissed off. I have actually heard her say, "Why in the hell should I work so hard when we aren't going anywhere?"
    04-21-2013, 05:31 PM
BSMS-What you are doing is fine, but perhaps you can aim for more control over her. There are times when I am on a trail when I need to move a hip or shoulder. For example-to open a gate, avoid an obstacle, etc. I do quite a bit of trail riding, and train some of the maneuvers we need for reining and arena riding while out there. It keeps both of us thinking, and we really don't have much of an arena where I board.

I have also done trail trials, and you really NEED to be able to move the parts of your horse if you are trying to do some of those maneuvers.
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    04-21-2013, 06:33 PM
Mia and I will undoubtedly work on having more precise control. Right now, our arena work consists of getting her comfortable with cantering, working on my lower back's flexibility, and trying to make every stop a perfect stop.

I am not in any way opposed to gaining as much control over your horse as possible, and I agree that more control results in greater safety on the trail. My point was simply that I would not wait for perfection (or 100% control of every body part) before taking her out on the trails.

The worst ride I ever had on Mia was in an arena. Lots of little things - a guy moving his trash can, some kids riding a bicycle past, birds, and who knows what all - added up until she melted down. In an arena. As in 2 hours of non-stop motion. Uncounted bolts. Diarrhea all over the arena. My oldest daughter at one point shouted out, "This isn't going to be good! Her eyes are rolling like a slot machine's!" In the end, after sunset (!) I jumped off. I cranked her head around tight, put a wrap of rein around the horn, and bailed as she tried to straighten out and build speed. And as soon as she saw me on the ground, she ran to me, stopped, put her head next to me, and waited for the bad things to go away.

That was the beginning of 8 months without riding her, while I worked to improve my riding. Then I hired a trainer, who after a week of work concluded Mia had never been broken to ride. Then 2 months of breaking her to ride via ground work, and then mounting again in Jan 2012. By that time, I had been leading her off property for about 3 months. Our first ride off property was in March 2012, and we only went 100 yards. By June, we were doing about 5 miles, but only with another horse.

The trail work has been critical for her. The confidence that is slowly building as we face challenges and fears and slowly overcome them together has been essential. She is now about 90% calm in the arena.

Off property, a car can zip by her at 50 mph without her blinking. She still gets overwhelmed at times, but never yet so bad that either Trooper couldn't ride by and show her, or that I couldn't back her up, dismount, and lead her past it. But if I had waited for total control in the arena, we would still be working on it. And we might never get there, because the arena doesn't have enough new things to build her confidence.

The calm and trust we've built off property is what has made it possible for us to work on cantering in the arena without having it turn into a bolt. And I cannot imagine Mia ever strolling down the trail, a cigarette hanging out the corner of her mouth, half-asleep. Trooper does that almost every ride. Mia? That isn't in her nature.

Eventually, we'll work on more refinement. I suspect I'll be able to go out when Mia is 26 (hmmm...I'll be 69 then) and still have a goal to work on with her. But I needed to get her out into the desert and facing fears over and beyond her imagination.

I'm not an 'all arena' or 'all trail' kind of guy. I think both are critical to developing a good horse. Mia was 11 when she was broken to ride, although I had ridden her a lot before. And while I eventually want to be able to say, "Put your right front hoof here", most of our riding will remain, "Let's see what is over there...." And she will decide what she needs to do to get there.
Sharpie, AnitaAnne and BellaIris like this.
    04-21-2013, 06:42 PM
That is the great thing about horses. You can take it as far as you want as in a finished bridle horse or you can have a weekly hack on a one speed horse. There is something for everyone. If you are happy to get through 2 rides without the OMG crouch and that's enough for you then that's great. Personally, I have watched too many Buck Brannaman DVDs and I want a horse as soft and responsive as his!! Lol
flytobecat and nvr2many like this.

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