Is Your Horse Ready for Trail Riding?


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Trail riding can be one of the most exciting and relaxing parts of horseback riding. Preparing your horse to go out on the trail is an important part of training a horse. How do you know when your horse is trail-ready? Here are some tips to help you out.

The Basics of Trail Riding

Trail riding puts a horse and rider in a new situation. Your horse will be outside of the confines of the riding arena, and will be exposed to “real life” – he may encounter sights and situations that he has not previously been exposed to. Some horses may get excited or nervous on trails, so it is important to be sure that your horse is well-trained and prepared for the new challenges that trail riding will bring before you head out.

The Need for the Basics

Before you take your horse out on the trail, he needs to have a thorough foundation. Training your horse properly is important to both your safety and your horse’s safety on the trails. Your horse needs to be able to halt, travel calmly at all gaits, turn, and back up. He should also be willing to stand calmly for a few minutes at a time, and should allow you to mount from the ground. You need to be able to control his speed at all gaits without a fight. Until your horse is willing and obedient to these requests in the riding arena, do not take him out onto the trails.

The Advantage of a Buddy

Horses are herd animals, and are naturally more comfortable with other horses around. Though some horses can grow accustomed to trail riding alone, it is best to start your horse’s trail experience with the help of an older, more experienced, calm horse. This “buddy” horse can help reassure your horse by showing the way and leading your horse through the new experience of a trail ride. Additionally, having a friend and the buddy horse along will ensure that you have help available to you if you should need it.

The First Trail Ride

Plan your horse’s first trail ride so that you can make it a positive experience. Spend some time working with your horse in the arena first, and then go out for a short trail ride on an easy trail. Go along with a friend on a trusted buddy horse, and stick to a walk. Give your horse time to evaluate the new sights and surroundings, but encourage him to keep moving on at a walk. The ride does not have to be a long one – ten minutes can be considered a very successful first trail ride as long as it is a positive experience for your horse. Remember, you can always build up the length of your future rides.

With thorough preparation, you can ensure that your horse’s first trail experience is a positive one. And, if your horse isn’t quite ready for trail riding yet, don’t forget that there are many horses for sale who are ready to head out onto the trails.

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