Just a Trail Horse - Discussion. - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 155 Old 08-05-2019, 11:31 AM Thread Starter
Green Broke
 
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Cool Just a Trail Horse - Discussion.

I know there was, years ago, a thread about people who look down on trail horses, but it's probably going on two or three years ago it was used.

What made me want to start this one is a couple/three weeks ago, I was camped out vending tack at a friend's rodeo for three days. A local woman who is a trainer and horse trader, but known for her old school cowboy methods, decided to hang out at 'camp' with me for a while. I have mixed emotions about her - I want to like her, and yet something about her starts to genuinely tick me off, but that's a different story.

Anyway. She had brought a nice looking palomino gelding out just to have around the rodeo and for the kids that help me to ride him around to get some rust off him.

While drinking our beers and kicking around horse talk, she gestured to him where he was tied at her trailer.

"He ain't nothing fancy, ain't worth much. He's just a trail horse some trail riders sold me."

Now, she's dealing with a different caliber of horse, usually. She's usually dealing with rodeo athletes, not trail horses, I get that. And yes, there's a whole other level of skill and ability to the horses she usually trades in.

But the way she said it grated on me.

I've seen barrel horses that couldn't mentally cope with the terrain we ride, with the closeness of the woods, the narrow trails, the shadows and imaginary boogers. Lord have mercy if hogs ran out in front of some of these 'athletes'. I've known people who had perfectly good, excellent roping horses... that would blow in two in an open field or would nut out at a creek they didn't want to cross.

I've known a lot of these athletes that their rider couldn't trust them as far as they could throw them.

I held my peace, but I for one wouldn't take for my 'nothing fancy broke about them' horses. Personally, I think there's something very fancy about hopping over a fallen tree, recovering from a trip into a rabbit hole, trotting through a creek, or kicking it into 4wd and going off roading. I think there's something incredibly fancy about dropping down a 20ft tall creek bank at a steep angle, and riding it out flawlessly and imagining, for just a second, you were on Jim's Ride (Man from Snowy River). I think there's something terribly fancy about a horse that stops on the trail and watches a sounder of wild hogs tear across our path - and doesn't lose his or her mind but stays motionless and rock solid (Trigger), or wants you to let her run them down (Gina).

I think there's something terribly fancy about a Welsh/Quarter horse cross pony that at the age of 3, is willing to go anywhere you point her one day, and drag a downed cow up into the stock trailer the next on the first try.

I think there's something very special about a good trail horse and the trust you develop in one another. And - they are, in my opinion and in their own right, true athletes.

They must have endurance, agility, nerves of steel, be willing and eager to go, and have a strong sense of self-preservation so they don't get you in trouble, so you don't get THEM in trouble, and you have to trust one another, rely on one another, and be kind to one another.

I'll take Trigger, Gina, or Oops, and in his day, Superman, over some of that chick's 'fancy broke' horses any day.

;)

PS - I'm not besmirching horses in other disciplines at ALL. There's a horse and a discipline for almost anyone. It just gets old to hear people dismiss a fine redneck equitation horse.

"We are here to laugh at the odds and live our lives so well that death will tremble to take us."
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post #2 of 155 Old 08-05-2019, 11:49 AM
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I'd take that trail horse you describe, in a heartbeat. Trail riding is all I do now, and mostly on very sedate, gentrified trails, so your horse is "somethin' special' from my perspective.
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post #3 of 155 Old 08-05-2019, 12:27 PM
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Almost every ride I come back from, I have a mental list compiled of all the brave things my horse did that ride. At this point, the list includes handling: mud, snow, ice, rocks, streams; turkeys flying up in her face; deer bolting across the trail; mountain bikes zooming down a steep hill behind her; off-leash dogs losing their heads barking at her; loose calves in the road; baby strollers with crying kids; horses riding towards and away from her out of the woods; threading between two huge hay balers that were basically touching her sides; shooting in the woods; camo-ed hunters sheepishly crawling out from behind a tree with full bow-and-arrow and apologizing for being where they shouldn't have been...

Those are just the things that came to mind quickly, she's faced more I'm sure.

I don't know yet if she'll be fast enough to be an endurance horse, but in the 1.5 years I've had her I do know for sure that she's a pretty awesome trailhorse and I appreciate her for it!
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post #4 of 155 Old 08-05-2019, 12:45 PM
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A horse that is "just a trail horse " is a wonderful animal indeed. Much sought after in some areas and often hard to find.

Our horses over the years had to be multitalented, we would show but also expected these horses to go out on trails and do a good job there as well. Perhaps they weren't top competing horses but good at many levels which made them nice horses to have around.
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post #5 of 155 Old 08-05-2019, 12:47 PM
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I had an instructor tell me that my horse (irish draught x something we dont know) is wasted on me. She should be out there jumping and hunting and living the life. Not stuck with me. They asked me twice why I didn't "just" get a cob. As if that was any better. I love cobs and would have been more than happy with one but I just worked with what was on offer and that was compatible for me. They asked if I was planning on selling mine - I'd only had her for just over a year at that point :< Obviously never got them back -.- But that was definitely the most hurtful comment I got since owning Katie and I still remember it from time to time.

Fortunately she doesn't give a hoot what her job is only that she has one. We're getting there with the trails :)
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post #6 of 155 Old 08-05-2019, 12:58 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kalraii View Post
I had an instructor tell me that my horse (irish draught x something we dont know) is wasted on me. She should be out there jumping and hunting and living the life. Not stuck with me. They asked me twice why I didn't "just" get a cob. As if that was any better. I love cobs and would have been more than happy with one but I just worked with what was on offer and that was compatible for me. They asked if I was planning on selling mine - I'd only had her for just over a year at that point :< Obviously never got them back -.- But that was definitely the most hurtful comment I got since owning Katie and I still remember it from time to time.

Fortunately she doesn't give a hoot what her job is only that she has one. We're getting there with the trails :)

Yeah, a few people have muttered that Gina is 'wasted' on us. She could have been taken in any direction - roper, barrel racer, pick up horse, you name it... but we take on the woods and the creeks with her. Couldn't ask for a better 4wd horse - she can climb anything and her descent is one where she tucks her butt way down low and does this weird slide on the back in, feet moving slowly on the front end. She'll 'sniff' her way through really rough, rocky footing in the mountains too.


We kinda laugh and shrug now and tell them: Eh. She hates cows but isn't the least bit cowy or rodeoy. She's doing what she does best as a badass trail horse.
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"We are here to laugh at the odds and live our lives so well that death will tremble to take us."
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post #7 of 155 Old 08-05-2019, 01:08 PM
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Well, you already know my opinion. "Nothing fancy" is not a disparaging remark on the quality of the horse, but on its earnings potential in the current show disciplines. It's like a motorcycle racer calling someones trusty trail bike "nothing fancy (just a dirt bike)". Yes, you won't win the Grand Prix on that dirt bike (and money for nothing and your chicks for free), but one hardly encompasses the functionality of the other in order to warrant a "superior" label.

My five dollar bottle of beer is hardly "fancy" compared to your $100 bottle of champaign. That is a true statement, but it also doesn't mean that I drink lousy beer. And if burgers are served for food, guess who'll have more enjoyment out of their meal? :)

You don't want a fancy horse, you want the best horse for the activity at hand. Nobody wins a marathon wearing a fancy tuxedo. It's a meaningless term.
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post #8 of 155 Old 08-05-2019, 01:26 PM
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There aren't as many rodeo type events here but I have slowly started to sense this divide. I've even spoken the phrase myself, "I just want to trail ride." As if that makes my goals somehow less than another rider's. Often I say this simply to fend off the assumption that, because we've found out that Dreama is gaited, I would suddenly change my goals and want to go to the local fun-shows.

I don't. I don't want that for us as a team. I love to watch horses and riders at those shows but it's not something I'm interested in doing myself. Someone at my knitting group even asked if I was going to "jump my horse." Even though the comments are often well-meaning, there is a general lack of understanding about what one is supposed to do with a horse if not to show.

I've turned out to be EXTREMELY lucky in our situation. The more the family I board with work with Dreama, the more we try to piece together her story. My instructors think she once may have been someone's show horse (at what level, we don't know, and will never know as we have no contact with anyone who owned her prior to the pound). The husband has done a variety of work in different horse disciplines over the years and says she steps like a horse that might have once had pads or heavy shoes on her front feet to enhance her natural gait more. Again, we'll never know for sure. But she's flashy, fast and showy.

But on the other hand, she has yet to spook or refuse out on the trail. The back of this family's property is STEEP. Up into and down out of the woods. I've been riding their horses as they've worked with her, so I've had the opportunity to see her confidence out on the trail. She's careful of her feet. I've watched her trip and then right herself with a rider. On our most recent ride, down the road and into the woods on a more gentle trail, she didn't shy at things that the other horses did: birds flying out from under a bridge, new feeder in a field, dogs barking, a tractor driving by (too fast) etc. Never paused at the shallow water crossings. Her focus is to "go", doesn't matter what the obstacle is along the way but she seems to have a good sense of where to put her feet too. Now that she has figured out saddling-up means we're going out to see new things and do something interesting, she is perfectly and happily willing to do so.

If someone did show with her, it really seems to me like they also trail-rode with her. She knows a lot of things, it's just a matter of learning what she knows. But so far it seems like she's the kind of horse who would take you anywhere, if you can hold on for the ride.

The mustang and quarter horse I started taking riding lessons on with my instructors have been a blessing. They're trained in a western style; they neck rein, the quarter horse goes in a bosal instead of a bit... very "point-and-go" type of ride, very little contact with the mouth required. Very easy, accustomed to being ridden by small children. They have patiently carried me through everything and helped me gain the confidence to keep going (I'm sure they think of me as the biggest, clumsiest child they've ever known). Neither would win any awards but they are so level-headed and easy on the trail, I would gladly have either of them.

I made the comment just the other day on another post that that's one of the things that makes me appreciate this forum so much... there is such a wide variety of riders, people who show, who trail ride, or do both, and for the most part seem to respect each other's disciplines and just want to see healthy, happy horses.

It's a shame that so much of the horse-world seems divided into various camps. I feel very blessed to have found the help that I have locally, who understand my goals but I also think would truly support me if I wanted to get into some other discipline as well.

"She could be a witch, and he would never build a pyre upon which to burn her thoughts, desires and dreams."

Last edited by CopperLove; 08-05-2019 at 01:31 PM.
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post #9 of 155 Old 08-05-2019, 01:35 PM
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I will take and keep my "trail-horse" any day over most of my previously owned horses.
My horse is safe, wise and takes care of me, my family or any friend I may put astride...
I trust him with my life...
Would I have trusted my show-horses with my life, not on a bet in a show-ring or anyplace else, period.
You can not put a value on a animal that is entrusted with your life to carry you safely here or their and does it joyfully.

People who put down "just a trail-horse" are showing how foolish, closed-minded and naive they are...
Every horse has a special niche where they can excel...and where there value is...find it and you might find a value in that horseflesh skies the limit!!
...

The worst day is instantly better when shared with my horse.....
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post #10 of 155 Old 08-05-2019, 01:42 PM
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I've been through about 100 horses to get to the 5 I have now. They're the absolute best of the best at what they do....just trail horses. And not too bad with cows.
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