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Discussion Starter #1
I think I want to get into Trail, Western Pleasure, and maybe Halter and/or Showmanship classes at the fair. Definitely Trail class. I have a 21-year old Gaited Paso Fino gelding, and we've ridden Western together my whole life. He's 14.1-14.2hh, so on the border between a pony and a horse. Has a horse temperament. What classes do you think we should enter at the fair? How can I prepare for Trail class? I don't have a round pen, but I have lots of open fields and lush pastures to ride in. And we own lots of trails in the woods behind my house.
My one friend did Trail class at the fair once, and she said they spray your horse with a hose, make you walk over poles on the ground, go over wooden bridges, around cones, walk over a tarp, open a mailbox, walk through water, and open a gait.
To prepare, i have a jump frame with about 7 poles. I don't want Arthur to jump too high as he's 21 years old and has never jumped, but I could use the thicker poles as ground poles to walk over. I have tarps that Arthur (my horse) can walk over, hoses he's pretty good with but I'll spray him with them when good weather sets in again just to make sure, a few of those garden arches I can walk him under just to get him accustomed to strange objects, logs to jump over on the trails, dry ravines to jump and/or cross (he usually tries to jump these, and I always have to hold him back and make him walk across them lol), etc.
He was accustomed to the show atmosphere when my mom rode him in egg&spoon races, pole bending, dollar races, etc at a show about 15 years ago. (he won almost all of the events!:D) I don't have any ponds/lakes/rivers/shallow pools of water to ride him through, however. Our neighbors have a pond they'd be more than willing to let us try, but it has chemicals in it. What should I do about the water thing? And I don't have cones. Any ideas/suggestions to help us prepare? Greatly apprciated! Thanks=)
P.S-I'm 5.6, and Arthur is 14.1-14.2. The judge at the fair wouldn't consider me too big for him, would he?


Here's pics of the jump with rails (ignore the dog and miniature horse LOL):






Here's a few pics of Arthur and I:






^^Haha i look rily weird cuz i wasnt smiling. Yes, I know his bit looked too big there. i adjusted it since then
http://i497.photobucket.com/albums/rr340/equiniphile/AAA my pets/again4.jpg
 

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put the polls in the L shape and back it. do some side passing over the polls. go to you tube and watch the classes!!
 

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Discussion Starter #5

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Trail classes are fun! I always do them. Don't worry too much about jumping, I've never done, seen or heard a class with a jumping obstacle. But I do live in Australia, so I don't know if you have jumps obstacles in your trail classes.

If you've never opened a gate before, practice! It takes a while to get used to opening them from horseback. Gates in trail classes can vary. Some can be rope gates, or metal full gates.
I find rope gates are probably the hardest although they look simple. Most trail class patterns should say how to go through the gate, just do what it says.

Every trail class has a bridge (I think). Make sure your horse is familiar with them. Also, put plants, ribbons, bright colours around a bridge at home. I went to Nationals and they had all of these brightly coloured flowers around the bridge and a lot of horses spooked at them.

Most trail classes will have a back through or an L thing. Set up an L shape of poles and back through them and side pass them. Then set up a square, stand in it and make your horse turn 360 without knocking any of the poles or stepping out.

Practice jogging poles, walking poles and jogging in and out of cones. Make sure you've got your transitions nice and smooth. Trail classes are all about how obedient, responsive and alert they are. Trail classes don't expect you to do them fast. Its all about how you and your horse negiotate the obstacles, and how responsive and alert he is. If he wants to sniff the bridge when you approach it, let him! It shows he is interested. But don't let him sniff it forever make him walk on.

If you're horse has never encountered an obstacle, try and introduce it to him on the ground. And if you get stuck on an obstacle, try and if you can't do it, look at the judge and nod or give a gesture. Most judges will nod at you and you can just move onto the next obstacle.

I'll try and find some good trail class videos that you can watch.

Follow the pattern, smile and don't rush it. You will do fine.
 

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like in the pic put a rope across the top of your jumps!! and no there is no jumping here eather!! just like troting over polls.

i just got first in my trail class the show was in november i had to do the open the mail box take out the bag and put it back in and then go over the bridge and trot over 4 polls and back the L and then raven had to kick a ball and then take a jacket and put it from one barrel to another then trot though polls like you do in the speed class poll bending!! i won i was so proud lol
 

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I will try and explain the best I can on how I go through gates. Sorry if it turns out a bit confused.

Walk up right next to it, or side pass right next to it. Put your reins in your right hand, lean over and pick up the rope off the hook with your left hand. Use your left leg to move his butt over, keep a hold of the rope and walk through. Use your right leg again to move his butt over once you're through and put the rope back on the hook. Remember to keep your reins in one hand whilst performing the gate.

Sorry if I've explained that wrong or confusingly :D. Just practice. I'm fairly sure I've explained it right. I've also seen some trail patterns that say you must back through the gate, instead of walking through, so I'd practice walking through, and backing through.
 

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We don't compete, but we practice trail class patterns with our trail mares. As you can see from the patterns and videos, there is a lot of leg/hind end work and that is the place to practice the most from my experience. It's easy to practice that anywhere, even without setting up the 'L'. We practice using the rows in our neighbor's gardens making sure we don't step on their veggies.
It's a lot of fun and teaches patience, too.
 

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I've never actually seen anyone do a trail class in an english saddle. I believe there are trail classes for english riders at some shows as well.
 

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Discussion Starter #13 (Edited)
Okay, I've worked a little with Arthur. Yesterday I put the bareback pad on and got him to walk over a tarp, because my one friend said she had to in a Trail class once, and he's fine with that. We also walked over some poles on the ground, but he sometimes hits them with his second foreleg....Are they perhaps too far apart from each other? We did some small figure eights around trees to substitute for cones. I have him going forward in the 'L' without knocking over anything or stepping outside the lines, but we need more practice backing into the 'L', as he's confused and steps outside the line at the turn. Arthur was pretty rusty with backing up, so I retaught him that and we're getting there. Any tips on teaching him how to back up from the saddle without pulling the reins really tight? I currently pull back on the reins and put my feet forward and out, and when he backs up a step or too I imediately release the pressure on the reins. That's his cue now....I can't get him to back up on a loose rein, though. I also need to teach him to side pass. Any tips there? Thanks!
 

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I’ve seen lots of different obstacles in different trail patterns. I have seen jumping but it was only over a flower box.

To do well in trail you HAVE to know how to open and close a gait without taking your hand off of it. To properly open a gate you start by walking up the side of the gait with your horse’s head toward the opening. Next lift the latch or pick up the rope and back up three or four steps until the gate is opened completely. Walk through the gate and close it by doing a forehand turn and backing along the gate until you can latch it. Your horse will be facing opposite direction you began (butt facing the latch). You can easily make a rope gate by taking a long line tying one end to a jumping standard, making a loop in the other, and hanging it on the other standard.

Back the L and a cloverleaf pattern around either cones or barrels. Go over poles at all three gaits changing distance of poles once you have mastered one length. Trail patterns typically have tight poles so gradually move us as you get better. Remember to squeeze your horse up as you go over poles also to get your horse over it.

Side passing is also very important. Make sure you can side pass up to the mail box, over poles, and in and L shape (use the same poles from the backing L).

Going over Bridges is also really important. If you don’t have a bridge or can’t make one a piece of plywood on the ground would suffice. Just add more to it as your horse becomes for comfortable with it. Place tarps over it and flowers around it. As your horse gets better at going over bridges don’t let him smell it anymore and just send him over it. Always remember to keep your eyes up and looking through the bridge, you look down you will make your horse look down and become worried.

Weave cones at the jog or trot like a manic to. As your horse becomes better tighten your cones and make your horse really work at it. Remember if the cones are a good distance apart to hug the cones and if they are close really swing out in a serpentine form.

Once you have mastered the basics then start adding frills to your obstacles and adding new ones. But the ones you will ALWAYS find in a pattern are the bridge, backing, cones, gate, and poles. The most important being the gate. Remember to be patient while training all obstacles and never expect perfection the first hundred times.

I would agree with putting your poles tighter for the walk and if he is continuing to hit them to wrap his legs for protection. On the backing thing roll on your crotch (as crude as that sounds) to signal the back. Squeeze with your legs and use the pull and release method. For side passing I would start on the ground with your horse. On our horses we pull our leg back slightly and rub up and down to while leaning INTO the way we want to go and rub the heel up and down. We start on the ground by putting our thumb in their sides and doing the rub and down to get them to move away. If your horse moves forward a lot like I’m sure he will put his nose against a fence or wall and make him move away from you. Once you can do it one ground good then move to the saddle. This applies to all the obstacles if you have an especially hard time with one.

One final thing to really work on is getting your horse to move their fore and hind end where you want it to go. So spend some serious time training this and it will pay off. If your horse cannot to a forehand or hind end pivot practice on the ground before moving to the saddle.

Hope this helps. If you have any questions you are welcome to PM me

Happy Training
PaintingMissy

PS Here is my video of me at the state 4-H show doing trail with my horse. The state course it very challenging so don’t expect to see this level of difficulty at the county level. This is by far not a perfect pattern but you can see some of the things I described above.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Thanks for the advice! I also have another question....When I try to back Arthur up with a steady pressure on the reins, he tucks his head and turns it to the side to sniff my boot and/or have me rub his forehead. Is he trying to tell me he's confused?
 

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It will usually consist of mailboxes, gates, backing and going over poles, carry a slicker, show w/t/c gaits, sometimes bridges and smaller jumps, also piviot boxes. But I've never heard that they sprayed them with a hose?
 

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I think he is confused as to what you are asking him. Do you use a verbal command to back up form the ground? Try using that to back him up in the saddle, or have someone back him from the ground while you are on him, using the cue to back up.....
 

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Discussion Starter #19
I think he is confused as to what you are asking him. Do you use a verbal command to back up form the ground? Try using that to back him up in the saddle, or have someone back him from the ground while you are on him, using the cue to back up.....
I use a verbal command from the ground along with pressure below his ne ck. I use the same verbal command from the saddle, along with pressure on the reins and putting my feet out and forward.

I have an Imus Confort Gait bit, which has two places to put the curb chain, and I moved the chain to the other rings today and Arthur seemed to understand a lot more. He still tucked his head and sniffed my boot, but he was backing up as soon as I gave the command today.
 

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Trail classes are a little complicated. Your horse needs to be controlled and rounded threw the whole class. There is usally gates, poles tarps,cones mail boxes\buckets and bridges. Personally I take my time its not a class to be rushed.
 
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