Trailriding questions - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 13 Old 03-25-2012, 08:52 PM Thread Starter
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Trailriding questions

Hello I have a few questions about trailriding,
First off I have an Appaloosa, are appaloosas good trail horses?
Secondly, How do you get a horse out on the trails alone without having a panic attack?
Last, how do you get a horse truly bombproof enough for the trails?
any help is appreciated
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post #2 of 13 Old 03-25-2012, 09:00 PM
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Any horse can be a good trail horse. Breed doesn't matter. Temperment does. I know several Appaloosas who are very fine trail horses.

The horse has to trust you and recognize you for its leader. It can be hard for some horses to go out alone as that is contrary to what the horse instinct is. Patience and repetition and firmness. My horse is turning 8, never trail rode at all before I got him, and in a couple of weeks after introducing trail riding I was heading out solo. There's some horses at my barn who will only go out alone with certain riders. You have to be confident and patient as it may take time - or maybe the first time out it's all dandy!

A truly bombproof horse is not easy to come by - the cops all ride them. Without serious, intense training, your horse will not be 100% bombproof. That doesn't mean that you can't desensitize your horse to scary things. First learn your trails - what's out there? Are there random objects, barrels? Deer? ATV's? Try to figure out the things your horse may come across and try exposing your horse to these things in a controlled environment. Learn how to one rein stop, because you never know if there will be a bad spook and you may need it. Rick Pelicano put out some great books on bombproofing. If you live in the Maryland area, he does clinics for bombproofing and self defense for the rider.
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post #3 of 13 Old 03-26-2012, 12:14 PM
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Welcome to the forum!

As it's already been said, most breeds can be reliable trail horses, though a lot more depends on the individual horse's temperament and level of training. And, it also depends on the confidence and competence of the person holding the reins.

Many arena/show riders regard "trail riding" as something for people or horses who aren't "cut out" for anything else, but that's not exactly true. It's likely that the only trail rides those people have been on are just plodding down a wide-open, well-maintained path or going on a guided trail ride on a steady-eddy old horse.

They've probably never had to swim their horse across a flooded gully or slide down a greasy, muddy hill that was so steep the horse was literally sitting on its backside to balance itself.

Apps are popular as trail horses, so I think you're off to a good start.

Remember that horses are herd animals - there is safety in numbers. That doesn't mean you can't ride off alone, but you need to work on establishing trust with your horse and getting it to focus on you, not all of its "buddies" back at the barn.

You get a bombproof trail horse by practicing. There are some lessons that you can work on in the arena, like stepping over logs or weaving through cones. . .but there are other things that you can really only "practice" by putting in miles out on the trail.

If you can, find a riding buddy who has a sound, solid, seasoned trail horse and go out on rides together. My little black horse, Badger, became known as "Uncle Badger" at the barn where I used to board him because he was a great babysitter for younger horses when we went out on trail. Nothing ever phased him or spooked him, he'd cross any obstacle asked of him, and that helped to build the confidence of the less experienced horses and their riders.

Just take things slow at first.

Happy trails!
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post #4 of 13 Old 03-26-2012, 12:23 PM
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I have never owned one but have rode with a few and they were terrific on the trails.

As far as bombproof, some of that is temperament and some is training and some is just plain old miles on the trails and wet saddle blankets.

My gelding is pretty calm and easygoing. We were riding yesterday with a horse that was on her first trail ride. She spooked hard to the right when something slid into the water to her left. She didn't buck or bolt but she moved pretty darn fast - her 17 year old rider stuck to her like glue. My horse didn't do more than lift his head when this happened.

On the way back my gelding spooked hard to the right over something in the woods - and this is very unusual for him...but all he did was jump to the right about 2 feet and took me with him.

You can work with horses in a safe area to introduce them to different things that could scare or surprise them. Oddly enough - Biscuit gives little pieces of wood along the trails more looks than he does things that I would think would scare him - pigs running out from under his feet barely get a jump but a stray log on the side gets the evil eye!!

As for going out alone, hahaha, I am still working on that one myself!
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post #5 of 13 Old 03-28-2012, 03:18 PM
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Originally Posted by HarleyGirl View Post
Hello I have a few questions about trailriding,
First off I have an Appaloosa, are appaloosas good trail horses?
Secondly, How do you get a horse out on the trails alone without having a panic attack?
Last, how do you get a horse truly bombproof enough for the trails?
any help is appreciated
I ride a TB as a trail horse. So breed doesn't matter. It depends on the horse.

My horse is very sour on other horses. Getting him out alone is a challenge at first but once he/she learns that you two are a team you'll be good to go.

There is a sticky in horse training that tells how one very experienced member trains bomb proof trail horses. Trust is the biggest thing I think. If they trust that if you say it's okay then it really is okay.

Whenever I ask my father-in-law how to work towards something with my horse his answer is always "Lots of wet saddle blankets".
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post #6 of 13 Old 03-28-2012, 03:35 PM
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Good posts above. I'll just add that in my experience the horses that are the easiest to ride out alone are those at/near the top and the bottom of the pecking order. The top ones are confident and are natural leaders, so they tend not to be as buddy sour or nervous by themselves. The ones near the bottom are followers and if they trust you, they'll go anywhere for you, even if they're nervous. The ones in the middle seem to always have a harder time when starting out alone.

On the sixth day, God created the Quarter Horse.
On the seventh day, he Painted the good ones.
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post #7 of 13 Old 03-30-2012, 08:58 PM
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I have a very old appaloosa that we only ride occasionally. (She is 25 years old.) My sister brought her to our farm to retire. She is totally bombproof. She will go anywhere you want. If she were 10 instead of 25, she would be my main horse. She is still sound, but if I ride her much she loses too much weight so I don't feel that it is fair to work her too hard. If she is anything like a typical appaloosa, I would say that they have the potential to be great trail horses.

Carpe Diem!
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post #8 of 13 Old 03-30-2012, 09:14 PM
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I have known a lot of nice, level headed Appaloosas! I agree with the above posts. It depends on the individual animal, trust, and skill. If you are just starting out, I would definitely have a buddy with you. My mare, who in her old herd was Alpha, and in her new is 2nd to 3rd place, goes very well out on trails by herself. We have explored far and wide... in the 3 or 4 miles around our barn. ;) She gets really into it once she is out of earshot of the other horses, and enjoys herself.
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post #9 of 13 Old 04-09-2012, 04:18 PM
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Are you talking about a panic attack for the horse or for you? LOL

If you haven't ridden trails, and your horse hasn't been on trails, going out alone isn't something you want to be doing right away. It's always easier to get your horse used to trails when you are riding with another horse that is comfortable on the trails. If you have to go alone because there is no one else to ride with you, then be sure and have a cell phone with you and put ID and phone numbers somewhere on your horse. And I'd ride close to home if possible and then go further out as your confidence increases.

As for "bombproofing" a trail horse? Hours and hours of wet blankets. A lot depends on the horse. My horse is incredibly brave and startles at nothing. Absolutely nothing. He wants to check out new things with his nose. He's the one we put first when other horses are refusing or shying. When he goes past whatever is bothering the others, it gives them confidence. My husband's horse is an OTTB and has only startled at cows (The first time he ever saw one) and every once in awhile a fallen log or a car where a car shouldn't be. There's just no way to predict which evil log will eat him. He'll walk past logs perfectly for 6 months and then decide the next one will devour him. Then he'll stop and stare at it and absolutely refuse to go forward....and that's the extent of his "spook!"

Your horse will have his own quirks. The more you expose him to, the better he'll be. Let him be around machinery, other animals, especially ones you might meet on the trail. You develop his trust in you. The more he trusts you, the more he obeys YOU...the less he will react to anything else. And you need to be comfortable with his reactions. You cannot plan on when a deer will jump in front of you, or when a turkey or quail will fly up. You need to know how he reacts when those things happen. It's a circle. The less you fear, the less afraid he'll be and the more confident you both become. I honestly have no idea how you'd prepare a horse for the trails in an arena except schooling him in basic obedience.

Last edited by HagonNag; 04-09-2012 at 04:21 PM. Reason: spelling
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post #10 of 13 Old 04-09-2012, 04:59 PM
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Originally Posted by HagonNag View Post
I honestly have no idea how you'd prepare a horse for the trails in an arena except schooling him in basic obedience.
Sadly, there is no way to come close... even an arena full of horse monsters is still home, and home is a safe place.

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On the seventh day, he Painted the good ones.
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