Show horse on the trail??? - Page 3 - The Horse Forum
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post #21 of 28 Old 05-28-2019, 02:52 PM
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I agree some horses need to be acclimated to the trails, but I believe it's worth the effort. Variety is good for their brains.

My youngest became a decent saddleseat rider and showed. I'm an okay rider, loved riding the saddle breds, had no interest in showing, and excel at keeping or getting horses calm. The barn where she rode had me take their show string out on trails. Each horse got a couple relaxing hacks a week.

They seemed to enjoy it. Their trainers and owners thought the hacks improved the horses performance in the ring.
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post #22 of 28 Old 05-28-2019, 08:17 PM
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Originally Posted by Spanish Rider View Post
So, I don't know what people are referring to when they are talking about showhorses, but I am talking about my 18hh show-jumper who jumped more than 15 feet sideways from a walk. That is the type of showhorse I am talking about.
I don't think that being a show horse is either here or there when it comes to safety on a trail. Some horses are more reactive and prone to spook, and others take (almost) everything in stride. Whether they're type 1 or type 2 doesn't have anything to do with whether or not they go to shows.

Lots of show horses would be predisposed to being GREAT trail horses, if anything, because of the stress and exposure to new environments that they have to acclimatize to on the show circuit. Some... would not.

So, yeah. Some show horses might be too sensitive for trail riding. But the same can be said for any backyard horses too. Depends on their wiring. Depends on their training. Depends on whether or not their anxiety has been handled in a way that has given them confidence or has shut them down. So many factors -- of which showing is just one probably very minor part.
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post #23 of 28 Old 05-28-2019, 08:59 PM
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Further to that point... examples from my own life.

I've owned two horses. One was a gelding who was described to me as "Oh he's done EVERYTHING!" Tons of trails, overnight camping. Even night-time rides. And he had not been shown.

The other horse was a mare who had been shown extensively... in Western speed events. Tons of barrels and key hole.

Guess which one was a solid trail horse. Guess which one was incredibly spooky and would bolt off with you with no provocation.

The "experienced trail horse" was downright dangerous and I'm surprised he never killed anyone. I fell of him six times in the one year I had him. He would just LOSE his MIND over anything. I still have major mental troubles with speed and spooking.

The "hot gamer horse" ex-show-mare turned out to be absolutely bomb proof -- the most bomb proof and sensible horse I have EVER ridden -- with perfect manners and perfect brakes on just a snaffle. Never spooked in the three years I owned her, and you could put a tiny child on her back and turn them loose in the ring with no worries. Went through anything and everything.
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post #24 of 28 Old 05-28-2019, 09:00 PM
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^Agree SteadyOn. It did sound though, that Spanish's eg was a horse who had never experienced 'the outside world' before & this was very early days in his 'exposure', so in this sort of situation with 'show horses' who aren't even allowed to be paddocked, I'd expect some 'heightened' reactions. And it does seem that it's show horses who are far more likely to be kept like that, wrapped in cotton wool & never allowed to be a horse. So when they find themselves too overwhelmingly thrust in an 'alien' environment, they are prone to 'over react'.

And yeah, Tiny, I have one of those - he is virtually unflappable out & about, on roads, in town, in the bush, but very 'prone to overreact' the few times I had him in indoor arenas or stables. As we have been going to 'Extreme Cowboy Racing' club, which is half inside, I'm finally getting him over it. He wasn't always like that about being 'indoors' but spent a week's training with a dressage rider at an indoor, stabled alone...
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post #25 of 28 Old 05-29-2019, 10:37 AM
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Riding him on the trail won't mess him up. He will probably appreciate it, rather than being in the arena all the time. Some horses don't like trails, some are just 'arena babies' but hopefully he will like it. It's nice to get out of the arena. I'm sure he will like the change of scenery. Riding in an arena gets boring, at least for me/my horse. But then again, all we really do is trails!

Ride him as you normally would...just relax.

A couple days before a show, you can still take him out on a trail. I don't see why not. :) Then practice some arena work of course like you normally would.
You could certainly go into the arena after a trail, I wouldn't push it or do anything major, if you go on a long trail, but there's no harm in that at all. You are overthinking it. Just enjoy it!
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post #26 of 28 Old 05-29-2019, 09:05 PM
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Here is my experience; i sold my big engine mare because i wanted a pleasure trained horse that i could enjoy riding in the arena at those easy pleasure gaits, but because i only showed at local shows for fun and wasn't in the market for a "show/trail only horse" i knew that my new mare was going to have to adapt because of how i ride. When i got my mare, she was 12 and had spent all her life being hauled to shows and doing western pleasure. I bought her from a show barn family as her young rider had bought a new horse to work with and was not going to be showing her as his main focus. Looking back to my first real trail ride on her i was not very smart.... other than just riding around the barn property as i had been, we trailered off to a horse park with serious trails. There were bridges, boulders, streams and creeks. Not only that but my other two riders were on trail loving mounts who couldn't walk fast enough to get around the bend. I had never ridden at this particular park and wouldn't call the trails strenuous or challenging, but for little 'ol Dixie it was definitely trial by fire- pleasure show horses are trained to not pick up their feet and she did her fair share of stopping to go over small tree limbs and etc., and i know the ride was tough for her. I take all the blame because the owner had said she would do fine on trails, but i just didn't consider what all she would have to deal with since she was not used to being out of a show ring. Fast forward to today, she loves trails and although she is still a slower walker she has learned to get through scary things like mud on the trail or crossing a stream and getting her feet wet; And when i do ride her in the arena or go to a small show near me and enter in the pleasure class, she is totally in her element. I would not worry at all about your guy being messed up when it's showtime just because he gets ridden on trails- to trained pleasure horses it all comes back to them because its what they know and did for so long. I have never regretted trading in my hot mare for my slowpoke girl because im not ever going to do anything endurance on her, mainly because i am too old for heavy competitive riding and my interest isn't there. I think trails are a wonderful thing to do on any horse and i would expect they enjoy it very much- the scenery beats going around an arena all your life anyway lol. My advice is to take him out as much as you would like just keeping in mind (unlike me :( ) hes going to have to learn to maneuver his way on the trail because its different from what he's used to. He might never pick up his feet the way trail only horses do, but i am sure he will enjoy seeing the world around him from outside the ring and will perform perfectly once he's in an arena and hears a loud speaker say "lope your horses"!!
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post #27 of 28 Old 05-29-2019, 09:12 PM
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I can definitely speak to this.... I showed as a kid, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I bought an Arabian gelding that was shown nationally as a Junior horse. He had two years of reining training (he hated it, he's not built for it, and he doesn't do well being FORCED or TOLD to do something, and I think he got a lot of that....) and then he was put with a Western Pleasure trainer. I had no intentions of showing, I wanted to trail ride.... or if I showed, it would only be local, fun shows. With all the buttons he had, I thought he'd make a heck of a trail horse. He LOVES the trail.... he was in super show shape when I bought him, with the show headset, super collected canter, etc. I showed last year in the American Royal youth show that has some adult classes. We had a blast, but we didn't start preparing for it until 6-7 weeks out! Actually, one of the reasons I decided to show was because I needed impetus to get back in the saddle on a regular basis after a hellacious few years. He didn't have the headset he needed. But *I HADN'T MADE HIM BE "SHOW PONY" IN YEARS!* As much as I loved showing as a kid, I don't want to do the arena work now. BUT... I have NO DOUBT that if showing was a big part of what I wanted to do (not sure it is what he wants to do, vs. the amazing trail) and if we worked the arena on a regular basis, he would totally know the difference between what I wanted in the arena and what he could do on the trail. I don't make him set his head on the trail but that doesn't mean he can be a giraffe. But my basic requirements for his behavior are the same....he is NOT allowed to break into a jog without me telling him. I don't think that is just a desirable arena behavior, that is a desirable HORSE behavior. I still expect a nice, collected canter, and I still get one. We can canter and keep pace with my gaiting friends! But usually the reins are practically draped on his neck and he's watching for wildlife and we're having a fabulous time. If you are doing ranch classes, that's a perfect fit for trail training too. I think you would both enjoy both disciplines and I don't think your horse will have trouble differentiating the rules of each discipline. Best of luck to you! I tried to post some photos of us in the show pen AND on the trail but couldn't get it to work? By the way, this guy took me up and over the Continental Divide! 20 miles, 4000 foot elevation climb, some scary stuff, and he was amazing. The other five horses in the group were livery horses who could have done it in their sleep. And he was the one who bounded into the clearing at the end, ready to do more!
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Last edited by NSpoolstra; 05-29-2019 at 09:20 PM.
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post #28 of 28 Old 05-30-2019, 04:26 PM
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Originally Posted by JuliaWhitehead View Post
So what I was wondering is if I can ride him on trails outside of the arena, and just let him go for a relaxing ride outside of all the nit picky Ranch Riding maneuvers and things.

... but I just want to take him out near our house on some nearby trails and ride.
This is a reasonable goal for you and your horse!

Originally Posted by JuliaWhitehead View Post
I also don't know how to ride him on the trails. Should I let him just kind of do what he wants or should I try to use my show skills like leg pressure and seat cues, and expect him to have arena behavior at all times.
Riding your horse is riding your horse. You have responsibilities. Your horse has responsibilities. You may ask for different behavior on the trail than what you are accustomed to in your arena sports, but still, you are asking and your horse is responding.

Originally Posted by JuliaWhitehead View Post
For example, if I am riding him just walking him along and he starts trotting without me telling him to. In the arena I would get onto him and tell him that was the wrong decision by making him stop and back up or yield his hindquarters, but on the trail, can I let him do this without correcting him?
Why would you think your horse's responsibility to respond properly to your cues (or lack of cues) would be any different just because the environment is different? If anything, I'd think it more important for your horse to respond to you properly on the trail, for your safety and his! If you have to "nag" him in the arena to get what you want, you will likely have to "nag" him on the trail. Every ride is a training ride. If you enjoy riding your horse, enjoy riding your horse.

Originally Posted by JuliaWhitehead View Post
Can he make a distinction between when it is time to relax and trail ride and when it is time to be completely obedient in the arena?
The idea of "time to relax and trail ride" is a human idea, your idea. To the horse, you are riding him. You make requests, he answers. No difference where you are.

Originally Posted by JuliaWhitehead View Post
The main thing I am worried about is messing him up. I don't want to let him get away with whatever he wants so that he starts doing whatever he wants in the show pen, but I also don't want to constantly nag him and make him frustrated and mad at me.
Do you find yourself constantly nagging him and making him frustrated and mad at you in general? Consistency and patience and knowledge of your horse will help that, wherever you decide to ride. What you will find on many trails is that when you ask of your horse with a purpose, your horse will understand your ask better and you will develop better communication. The trail may be more relaxing to you (you're not being judged, there are no particular patterns to ride, etc) but your horse will be exposed to new distractions. He will need your support and guidance. If you want to develop a stronger relationship with your horse, the trail is a great place for that! Have fun!
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