Join Date: May 2013
Location: Central Florida
• Horses: 0
Yep, the best way to get better at trails--you or the horse---is to do more trails. Sometimes the things you have learned and practiced in an arena will have a practical use out on the trail. I clearly remember the first time I used a HQ yield to pivot and turn around on the trail because the trail was narrow and going off the trail wasnt a good option, and I swear I thought I could feel Sonny thinking "oh...so that's what this move is for". LOL
Keep in mind that a few people you encounter on the trails will be rude or plain careless and dangerous. In my experience they are few and far between, but always keep it in mind and expect the unexpected from them. We were nearly creamed once when someone came cantering around a blind curve and I didnt hear her coming until she was nearly on us. Another time someone was ponying a horse and coming rapidly up behind us,,,the trail just wide enough for 2 horses side by side , or passing.....Sonny & I scrambled and wedged ourselves off to the side to get out of the way and not be run into.....and as she flew past us she said 'you know these gaited horses, you can't slow them down"....say what???? hogwash.
It would be great if you had a few friends to ride with regularly, and if ya'll were all of the same mindset. My trail buddies and I always -go no faster than the slowest or least confident horse & rider, even if that means we don't get to trot or canter at all----watch out for each other (bicylist up ahead on the left!!) and offer help if someone is having problems---always make sure to announce when we're going up a gait and make sure everyone has said they are ok with it--stay out of the kick zone of the horse ahead of us...things like that.
Also, for the fun of it, google ACHTA and look around. Its a great way to help your horse gain confidenct out on the trails. After a few ACTHA rides, he will be so accostomed to coming up on strange obstacles out on the trail, he will be less and less spooky. This is something you could start with in an arena--riding up to, over, etc. obstacles. ACHTA has a list , and I think a video of examples of their obstacles.Its not terribly expensive to join and ride. You can do it for the fun and experience or you can compete for points.
Be as soft as possible, but as firm as necessary--Pat Parelli