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The most useful things you can teach a trail horse

2550 Views 42 Replies 26 Participants Last post by  RoadRider / Rios Dad
It would be nice to have a list of useful things we can teach our trail horses, to make trail riding easier and more pleasant! Please pitch in some ideas!

I'll start:

1) Standing still while mounting
2) Standing still after mounting
3) Positioning for mounting
4) Standing still on the trail while I try to look at my phone or map
5) Allowing me to play with halter/bridle while in the saddle (readjusting, removing a lead rope etc.)
6) Side passing
7) opening gaits
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I don't see this poem posted, but both Tom Dorrance and Buck Brannaman have recited it at clinics.

Slicker Break A Bronco

When you're breakin' out a bronc,
better get him slicker broke

For you'll have to try it sometime
when it isn't any joke

When the wind begins a blowin'
till it snaps his mane and tail

And a big black cloud's a comin'
full o' lightnin', rain and hail

You know if you get off him
he will likely pull away

So you try it in the saddle
and you're hopin' that you stay

But your horse starts a buckin'
When you get it halfway on

While your arms and sleeves are tangled
then he throws you and he's gone

Your slicker's torn and busted
and the wind has took your hat

And you see your horse and saddle
go a-driftin' down the flat

Bout that time you get an idea
and you don't forget it, pal:

Better slicker-break a bronco
in a mighty good corral

-Bruce Kiskaddon
 

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A lot of things that one rider thinks are a must aren't important or so important for another rider.

I do like horses to stand still for mounting and to wait for the rider to be all 'correct' before heading off - my youngest son didn't care and would happily vault on his mare while she was walking along and get his stirrups sorted as well. I guess it didn't bother me much when I was younger because vaulting on a cantering pony was a must for gymkhana

All horses should stand still when asked but I'd not worry about them doing that while I looked at my phone!

Sidepassing, turn on forehand, backing up, opening gates etc are all useful

Safety wise - the most important thing for me is that the horse learns to 'spook in place'. No horse is ever going to be 100% bombproof but its great if they can learn to not overreact and bolt off at every little thing that bothers them.
We had to ride on busy, narrow roads in the UK and it was vital that our horses didn't bolt off or leap sideways into traffic every time something rustled in the hedge or a dog barked on someone's driveway.
Oooo, spook in place... I did not know that could be thought. Thank you
 

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I have not trained mine to wait for me if I fall off. (Last time I fell off, my horse went on home without me.) But one of my friends teaches hers by dismounting quickly and laying on the ground. Then she gives them cookies. So they learn that people on the ground have cookies. I don't know if it really works in practice.
 

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No eating while on trail. Bad, bad habit. They lose their focus and their step, accident waiting to happen.
I don't know about this. I think it really depends on the type of trail riding you do. I know many longriders let their horse grab a mouthful because they need the calories.

I don't mind my horse grabbing a mouthful as long as he can do his job. And he knows the difference and pays attention when I say no. But I don't want to micromanage him on the trail if he doesn't need it, and I want him to enjoy our trip, too. And if a mouthful or two of overhanging greenery makes him happy, it makes me happy, too.
 
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Not pooping on trail
Rio has to poop he drifts to the left side of the trail
Drifts off the trail, stops, swings his butt 90 degrees to the trail and takes a step back

Poops, I praise him. pat him on the neck and off we go
Does this all on his own with no prompting
Hasn't messed a trail in years

He can also have his head stall slipped and turned loose on the grass
He will stay where I am
He will do this in a parking lot if there is an island of grass also
 

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I don't know about this. I think it really depends on the type of trail riding you do. I know many longriders let their horse grab a mouthful because they need the calories.

I don't mind my horse grabbing a mouthful as long as he can do his job. And he knows the difference and pays attention when I say no. But I don't want to micromanage him on the trail if he doesn't need it, and I want him to enjoy our trip, too. And if a mouthful or two of overhanging greenery makes him happy, it makes me happy, too.
Yes I agree but only when I stop and let them is when they can eat. I'm not a long rider so......I have crossed my state which was 250 miles but I'm not a long rider.
 

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I have found that teaching the horse to be mounted from either side is great when riding narrow trails.
I’m sure my horse would be fine with this, if a little bemused.

However, I’m pretty sure I couldn’t do that! Mounting is such muscle memory - it would be like trying to write with my left hand.

So maybe this one should go in a new thread of things trail riders should be taught!
 
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