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I had posted something in the trail riding section about how I (as a newbie) was shocked to learn that some people don't ride their horses out on the trail. It started quite the ruckus, so I wanted to come over here to see how many of you take your horses out of the arena and onto the trail, whether it be for training purposes or just for fun.
 

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Yes, it is imperative to get our dressage horses cross trained! Riding on different terrain, reasonably uneven footing, pavement, grass, hills, etc. all helps to strengthen the tendons and joints against damage. I also jump my dressage horses, and take them out to big places so they can run.
My coach likes to take the horses outside to school the short work, or do other things and for young horses has a mandatory once a week hill session.

For reference, I am a CDI competitor. Yes, there are lots of people who have horses that do not see outside, but I think the horses are far healthier and more willing to work when they are let to go outside and be horses. This idea is gaining lots of popularity and with riders like Ingrid Klimke really promoting it and showing good results with her training program, the wheels are turning.

Good luck!
 

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I'm hoping to trailer my horse out to some trails this summer but so far I've never ridden him off-property. Most of the horses in my barn never go anywhere but the arena, the outdoor ring, or the showgrounds. It's a shame, but most of us don't have our own trailers and would have to organize with other people and try to get together a group of horses that won't rile each other up.
 

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I love to trail ride. And what is a better activity to do when it's 85 outside and your barn has no fans? Or when you try to work, but both of us are having a bad day. A trail is perfect way to calm down and always have a good ride.
Really though, Chevas is pretty out of shape and as and older horse (he's 18) he takes quite a bit of time to cool out after our hard lessons. I go on a long (15-30 minute) trail ride after our lessons to relax and talk to him. I also love to drop my stirrups which builds muscle (escpecially when you're riding such a bouncy horse) it's also nice because he has a weaker hindend and the deep hills do him justice. Anyway, yes, I love to take my horse out of the arena and go on trails. It's a wonderful break for the both of us.
 

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I agree that it is an excellent training tool and creates a much healthier aspect of work for the horse.

All of our horses get taken out at least on little excursions to the pond or the loop trail out back. Sometimes it's a struggle, other times they take o it fine, but I find the end result is always a happier horse.

My mare Selena (Most of you might actually remember this) was an extremely dangerous horse on the trail for the longest time. Rearing, crow hopping, running backwards, spinning around, etc. It took a long, long time to get her to where she can now go through most any trail obstacle willingly. She still will look at things and has issues walking in the dreaded straight line, but there were so many times I almost got tossed and left behind I am happy with that. She is also happier. We breeze her on flat logging roads every now and then for barrel races, and she has the fastest large fast circles you'll ever see on a reining pattern because of it. Also, tougher feet, and a sounder mind.
 

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There's no better way to decompress than a nice trail ride or baby xc school:) I took my veteran GP horse out exploring as often as I could, and moved to a barn near Gladstone NJ with no indoor simply because of the horse-friendly (gravel) roads, wonderful landowners (big hunt in the area), and endless trail system. We'd hack to the USET to gallop on the XC course all the time. But as my boy was a, shall we say, mellower WB, I'd trailer over to show;) Couldn't waste any HP on hacking:)
First horse? No hacking off stable grounds. He was an imported Dutch WB who was terrified of the outdoors-turnout in small paddock only. I tried but he never relaxed enough to enjoy it.
 

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My Dressage trainer *requires* that you ride at least 1-2x per week outside any sort of "arena" or she will drop you.

I love a horse a bit on the *hotter* side and a go, go, go, go, go horse that's locked up in a stall is NOT one I am getting on! If I have an early, early lesson (IE before normal turnout is done), I will get to the barn extra early to make sure my horse goes outside to run around free in turnout before my lesson. I prefer he gets his crazies out playing with his buddies in turnout!
 

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Its seems less common for horses in the US to go off the property - I tried dozens of horses when I was looking to buy one and none had ever been ridden out of an arena other than at a showground - including the one I ended up buying
I makes them very bored and sour I'm sure
As faye said in the UK most people 'hack out' on a regular basis including riding on roads. If you have a valuable show horse that you don't want to risk getting a blemish you dress it up in leg and knee boots and off you go. There are many top show hunters that go (fox) hunting for real too. Its surprising how much schooling you can actually do when just riding around the lanes and tracks
 

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Yep Reeco rides out, most show horses go out on the roads and hunting. Heck I know a HOYS supreme champion who is currently out eventing and regularly went hunting.
 

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I boarded for several years at a predominantly dressage barn, and was extremely surprised at the amount of horses that *never* got ridden outside of an arena. There was also more than a few horses at the barn that were never ridden in the outdoor arena either, just the indoor only year round. Those seemed to be, not surprisingly, the unhappiest/sourest horses at the barn. I lived on site and had a window to each arena, the indoor and outdoor, so it was something I noticed over time. Really boggled my mind though.
 

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I take my horses out on trail rides as much as I can! I think (like others have said :)) it helps them destress and have a bit of fun. I prefer fields and trails to arenas because it desensitizes them to 'scary stuff'. As a side note: Had a woman say to me a few days ago that she kept her horse in 24/7 and he only went out when she had him on a lead rope, was being ridden, or for four hours at night all to preserve his color for if she might 'one day show him'.... seems a bit overkill to me.
 

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I definitely ride out! I find that my horse performs best when he has had some time to be a horse and do what he wants, and when I come back to train him (sometimes even that ride) he is so much more willing to learn. I often ask him for a few simple manoevours during the trail, which they love, and I often will introduce new movements on a trail, where I find that they pick things up with a sort of 'spunk' you don't often recieve in the arena :)
 
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I honestly think getting out of an arena keeps the horse in a sound mindset. I always take my horses out of the arena for their cool out, and just walk around my yard (which urks my parents) or into our hay field, sometimes even down a road.

For my all around horse that is learning eventing from a base of 4H and dressage, I take him out to a dirt road that rarely has cars on it, and let him run. Ever since I started doing this, he has been so much more willing to come out and do arena work!

I absolutely despise horses that are kept locked in stalls all day, just to be ridden in an arena and put back :mad:
 

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My boss is a dressage rider (Prix St George/Inter 1) and eventer (3*). He has a team of each at varying levels and degrees of experience.

All the horses (even ones that come to him for schooling) are ridden out once a week.

I am no where near as good a rider as him and my horses are not even close to being the same calibre, but I have noticed that they are happier and more settled the more I vary their work load. With one of my horses, I don't school the day before a show, I ride him out on the trails. He settles a lot more in his dressage than he would if I school him.
 
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