Join Date: May 2009
Location: Mid Northern TN
I have to admit- I go out on trail alone a lot. A lot a lot more than it sounds like some, maybe many of the folks on here might think was safe or a good idea. Unfortunately, I am not really an arena person, and my training and schedule doesn't really match up with others' so it's go out alone or don't ride. I choose to ride.
My horse is (was?) green broke, and I am (was?) hardly past green myself, but we go out and ride past scary stuff all the time. The key is that my horse is honest and willing and I'm brave (stupid). So he trusts that I have everything in hand and will choose the safe choices for us both and I pretend that I know what is going on and have any idea what I'm doing. I let him choose the how, and I choose the where and how fast. Sometimes this involves mud or slippery rock or steep grades- I give him his head and trust him to keep himself between me and the ground. He trusts that there's an end to the madness and I'll eventually get him back to the nice safe barn. We both recognize that falling off cliffs or running into barbed wire is probably something we'd rather avoid.
I wouldn't say that I control every part of him, though I can now proudly say we do have side-passing and lateral skills well in hand, including working gates. But, we do have a relationship, a habit as someone else put it, where I am in charge and I will let him look if he likes, but his feet can't stop or change from the speed I previously asked for. He knows it, I know it, and though he has surprised me with skills previously unknown (trotting sideways, for example) when something startled him, he is in the habit of obeying and following our established agreement despite all the new (potentially scary) things we see on a regular basis.
You've gotta put miles in on the trail to get a good trail horse, no two ways about it IMO.