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sublimequine
Oct. 20, 2009, 11:04 AM
Sorry for the long title, couldn't think of a better way to put it! :lol:

I'm at a new barn, been there a few months now. The maresie has settled in nicely, and we've been slowly working on the trails (which are quite extensive). She's quite used to being ridden by herself, as that's what we do the vast majority of the time. However, I really prefer to introduce a horse to new trails with another experienced mount along for the ride. It really does seem to help keep the horse confident and willing to check out new places.

Unfortunately, that's just not an option for us. The few folks I see riding at my barn... I'd rather not ride with. It would be more risky than just riding by myself.

So, how do you despook/introduce a horse to new trails without having a calm buddy along for the ride? The mare enjoys trails, but I wouldn't call her a trailmaster or anything. She spooks rather easily in new environments, and it can be hard to keep her composure. Once she's familiar with the trail? No problem, we're set. But GETTING her familiar with the trail, without having a quiet buddy to help us, has been difficult. :no:

SmartAlex
Oct. 20, 2009, 11:11 AM
I'm interested in the replies as well. I started taking a new horse out a year ago. It took us awhile. There were rides where we didn't get too far because we wasted too much time sitting discussing our options (either you walk through the puddle, or we sit here 'til Tuesday ;)). I did have some Hairy Scairy moments (think herd of cows, nippy neighborhood JRTs etc), but he has become quite reliable... finally :sadsmile:

Janet
Oct. 20, 2009, 11:12 AM
Can you borrow a horse to pony her off of?

ChocoMare
Oct. 20, 2009, 11:14 AM
I'm a Just Do It kinda gal. I had no one to ride out with when I got my Clyde-x either, so without a second thought, I just did it.

The key is YOU: you need to stay quiet in the saddle, act like everything you come across has been seen a million times and is no big deal.

When you do encounter a spookable that the mare reacts to, I accept a "halt and watch." I do not accept spin or back. If they do, I turn them back to whatever the spookable is and halt/watch. Then ask for forward again. Every bit of forward is rewarded verbally and with lots pats. Any spin or back, results in a more firm spin back to The Thing until obedient forward is given. Once we're past it, it's back to Oh It's No Big Deal again and the incident isn't given a second thought.

It's the same now that we've been together 5 years. We always encounter something you can't plan for (see this thread: http://www.chronicleforums.com/Forum/showthread.php?p=4448575#post4448575

So, just have at it!!!! :yes:

sublimequine
Oct. 20, 2009, 11:14 AM
Can you borrow a horse to pony her off of?

Possibly, but most of the trails aren't wide enough to really comfortably pony another horse. I'd also be concerned that if my mare spooked, I'd have to be worrying about containing my mare while holding onto the pony horse.

monicabee
Oct. 20, 2009, 11:14 AM
If she is has decent ground manners and won't climb on top of you when spooked, take her for a walk in hand along the trail, at least the first section, before you ride it. That way she has a "lead."

Then ride it and go a little further each time, just pushing her a little beyond her comfort zone but not too far. If she is balky, just ask for a few steps more, not the earth and sky, return and repeat. The idea is to build confidence for the long run as well as just gain ground on the trail.

Break it up into little bites and you'll get the whole trail done without incident, I bet. The good thing about riding alone is that you can be a patient trainer without spoiling someone else's ride.

sublimequine
Oct. 20, 2009, 11:17 AM
I'm a Just Do It kinda gal. I had no one to ride out with when I got my Cklyde-x either, so without a second thought, I just did it.

The key is YOU: you need to stay quiet in the saddle, act like everything you come across has been seen a million times and is no big deal.

When you do encounter a spookable that the mare reacts to, I accept a "halt and watch." I do not accept spin or back. If they do, I turn them back to whatever the spookable is and halt/watch. Then ask for forward again. Every bit of forward is rewarded verbally and with lots pats. Any spin or back, results in a more firm spin back to The Thing until obedient forward is given. Once we're past it, it's back to Oh It's No Big Deal again and the incident isn't given a second thought.

It's the same now that we've been together 5 years. We always encounter something you can't plan for (see this thread: http://www.chronicleforums.com/Forum/showthread.php?p=4448575#post4448575

So, just have at it!!!! :yes:

That's pretty much what I've been doing so far. But our progress is SO MUCH SLOWER compared to when we have a buddy. :(

sublimequine
Oct. 20, 2009, 11:19 AM
If she is has decent ground manners and won't climb on top of you when spooked, take her for a walk in hand along the trail, at least the first section, before you ride it. That way she has a "lead."

Then ride it and go a little further each time, just pushing her a little beyond her comfort zone but not too far. If she is balky, just ask for a few steps more, not the earth and sky, return and repeat. The idea is to build confidence for the long run as well as just gain ground on the trail.

Break it up into little bites and you'll get the whole trail done without incident, I bet. The good thing about riding alone is that you can be a patient trainer without spoiling someone else's ride.

I've done that as well, take her for "trail walks". She's totally confident as long as I'm standing at her side. The second I hop up into the saddle, the confidence is blown to smithereens and we're seemingly back at square one.

That's a good idea though, doing the trail in small sections. Most of the trails here are big loops, around a pasture, around a field, etc, etc. I've been doing an entire loop at a time, and by the time we're done, she's just quite frazzled and acts like, "Phew, glad THAT'S over!".

Perhaps I need to start cutting the loops down into small sections, and like you said, have her go just a bit past her comfort level, then turn back. Then each time, ask for a bit further.

jazzrider
Oct. 20, 2009, 11:25 AM
I think it so depends on the horse, and their personality. It sounds like you think your horse would be much better off if she got out there a few times with another good horse. I don't suppose you have a friend from your old barn or somewhere else who could trailer in once or twice to ride with you? For safety sake, that might be the thing to do.

But if you want to try it alone, monicabee's suggestions are good, and worked for me when I was leasing two different OTTB mares. With my current TWH though, he's not brave and that approach would traumatize him. But oddly, he's fine with stuff after I hand walk him past it (once usually does the trick) -- so I'd be taking my horse for a hand walk, and then riding him back. :D

SharonA
Oct. 20, 2009, 11:34 AM
Too funny. My barn also features the Jack Russells (and often puddles) en route to the trails.

The best thing I've found is, frankly, singing (however badly). My horse responds well to "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot," "Michael Row the Boat Ashore," "I've been Working on the Railroad," "I Ride an Old Paint", and "O Clementine." Also, "Ravioli, I like Ravioli" for when she's not jigging, but seems to benefit from alittle help in keeping her tempo at a good strong walk (she's walking nicely, but then she sees a bush or flower that she feels is NQR, for example).

If some feature of the the trail genuinely scares her, I will get off and lead her past it ONE OR TWO TIMES. After that, she needs to get over herself. I do lead her through water crossings where I can't tell the depth or what's under the water (usually a big fat hole that I fall in while she stands there looking at me enquiringly).

sublimequine
Oct. 20, 2009, 11:36 AM
I think it so depends on the horse, and their personality. It sounds like you think your horse would be much better off if she got out there a few times with another good horse. I don't suppose you have a friend from your old barn or somewhere else who could trailer in once or twice to ride with you? For safety sake, that might be the thing to do.

But if you want to try it alone, monicabee's suggestions are good, and worked for me when I was leasing two different OTTB mares. With my current TWH though, he's not brave and that approach would traumatize him. But oddly, he's fine with stuff after I hand walk him past it (once usually does the trick) -- so I'd be taking my horse for a hand walk, and then riding him back. :D

Unfortunately there's really no chance of me being able to ride with the quiet folks I used to ride with. :no:

I really think the doing the trail in small sections will help, though. I've done that before, along a particular stretch of trail she hated. There were really thick pine trees... and barn cats thought it was funny to pop out of the trees and watch the horsey become airborne. :uhoh:

sublimequine
Oct. 20, 2009, 11:37 AM
Too funny. My barn also features the Jack Russells (and often puddles) en route to the trails.

The best thing I've found is, frankly, singing (however badly). My horse responds well to "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot," "Michael Row the Boat Ashore," "I've been Working on the Railroad," "I Ride an Old Paint", and "O Clementine." Also, "Ravioli, I like Ravioli" for when she's not jigging, but seems to benefit from alittle help in keeping her tempo at a good strong walk (she's walking nicely, but then she sees a bush or flower that she feels is NQR, for example).

That's a good idea, helps me keep my breathing relaxed and stuff too! :yes:

SmartAlex
Oct. 20, 2009, 11:48 AM
I talk alot too... "you do see that rock/bike/tractor don't you?" And my favorite "oh yes you will."

I've also found one method that helps me make sure my body language isn't blocking him. I'm pretty sure when I identify a possible problem looming, I block his forward progress with my hand and leg without really knowing it. So, to get around this, I point my rein hand in the direction I want us to go. That seems to help. We have done quite a bit of stopping and studying, a minimal amount of spinning and bolting, and I've only dismounted to lead twice.

I have the added advantage of boarding at my mother's house. When I first started out, I had her or my step father walk with us through a couple of places. My horse knows and trusts both of them. I'm pretty sure I would have never gotten across the shallow ravine in the woods if my step father had not stood at the bottom of it so my horse could judge the depth. He must have fairly rotten depth perception. So, if you can find a non-horse friend who might like to go for a hike, that will help too.

baylady7
Oct. 20, 2009, 12:35 PM
When I started my horse on trails, it was handwalking as a yearling. Very short ones of course. We went out with others (they rode, I walked) every once in a while. Sometimes friends would come walking with us.

As he matured I moved on to ground driving him. Then of course once he was saddle broke to under saddle work.

He is great with other horses, or if folks come walking with us (my SO is great for that). He is okay but not super brave under saddle by himself.

We wear bells (part of rythm beads) to help flush out the deer way out (as opposed to under our feet). I also hire a trainer about every month or two to come out and ride with us and I work on him leading (he prefers to follow). We leap frog- she leads, then we lead, then switch. This is building his confidence quite nicely.

I also ride in the park from time to time with one neighbor- we need to trailer there so I fill his gas tank and he gets someone to ride with him (both horses are quiet).

So you have a couple of ways to accomplish this objective as I have outlined here. My horse MUCH prefers the trail to the ring so he is pretty good nowadays. He is also over 20 yo so that helps, but he was generally quiet even when he was a 4 yo.

katarine
Oct. 20, 2009, 12:45 PM
Pay a trainer to come to you and take you both out on the trails. You don't trailer out, so this may be the fastest, simplest thing. Free, no. Done fast? Yes.

I bet ONE of the other riders at your barn is decent enough as a person, and would be glad to help you if you asked. There has to be ONE decent person there. Maybe loosening your primness girdle will free you to see that someone in that mix can serve your needs :cool:

Good luck

sublimequine
Oct. 20, 2009, 12:47 PM
When I started my horse on trails, it was handwalking as a yearling. Very short ones of course. We went out with others (they rode, I walked) every once in a while. Sometimes friends would come walking with us.

As he matured I moved on to ground driving him. Then of course once he was saddle broke to under saddle work.

He is great with other horses, or if folks come walking with us (my SO is great for that). He is okay but not super brave under saddle by himself.

We wear bells (part of rythm beads) to help flush out the deer way out (as opposed to under our feet). I also hire a trainer about every month or two to come out and ride with us and I work on him leading (he prefers to follow). We leap frog- she leads, then we lead, then switch. This is building his confidence quite nicely.

I also ride in the park from time to time with one neighbor- we need to trailer there so I fill his gas tank and he gets someone to ride with him (both horses are quiet).

So you have a couple of ways to accomplish this objective as I have outlined here. My horse MUCH prefers the trail to the ring so he is pretty good nowadays. He is also over 20 yo so that helps, but he was generally quiet even when he was a 4 yo.

The rhythm beads with bells idea is an interesting one I never thought about, I wonder if they would help my mare focus in that they drown out a little bit of the noises she occasionally spooks at? It would also be nice to help warn the wildlife that we're coming, as you mentioned! :lol:

twofatponies
Oct. 20, 2009, 12:49 PM
Hi Ho, Hi Ho, It's off to work we go also works really well. :D

I've also just started carrying my iphone in my pocket, with a perky but not distracting music shuffle playing. We had a great ride yesterday - the music seems to keep me focused and relaxed, and horsie seems to enjoy it a lot.

That was indoors, but I'm looking forward to doing it outdoors too.


Too funny. My barn also features the Jack Russells (and often puddles) en route to the trails.

The best thing I've found is, frankly, singing (however badly). My horse responds well to "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot," "Michael Row the Boat Ashore," "I've been Working on the Railroad," "I Ride an Old Paint", and "O Clementine." Also, "Ravioli, I like Ravioli" for when she's not jigging, but seems to benefit from alittle help in keeping her tempo at a good strong walk (she's walking nicely, but then she sees a bush or flower that she feels is NQR, for example).

If some feature of the the trail genuinely scares her, I will get off and lead her past it ONE OR TWO TIMES. After that, she needs to get over herself. I do lead her through water crossings where I can't tell the depth or what's under the water (usually a big fat hole that I fall in while she stands there looking at me enquiringly).

jeano
Oct. 20, 2009, 01:15 PM
Typically I have the opposite problem, horses want to take off into Unexplored Territory, thru swamps, into bear traps...

But, pretty much what ChocoMare said. When I became a 52 yr old re re rider with no-one to ride with a little over3 years ago, I had to ride out alone a lot and still do. I have taken several different new horses places that neither one of us ever had been.

When I first had Sadie, she was firmly convinced that everything was a Death Trap. We just had to deal with stuff as it came up. Even though she was terribly afraid of stuff, (and didnt trust me for a long time) she's also very curious and is usually the first horse in a group to pull up her big girl panties and go forward.

She still spooks at stuff, particularly if its a new booger in a familiar place. Other day she saw the Giant Garbage Can on Wheels for the first time in the neighbor's driveway (we just got garbage pickup for the rural parts of our county a few weeks ago.) Sadie spooked in place, didnt wheel, but also didnt want to go past the booger. I laughed at her and repeated a familiar phrase from when I was doing clicker training with her a couple years ago: 'Can you touch it?' Then I told her I'd give her a peppermint if she touched it with her nose. Whereupon she marched over, nosed it good, and begged nicely for her peppermint.

I had never used the phrase for anything but targeting, and havent done any clicker stuff with her in ages and ages. Decided that's a handy thing to have in the tool-kit, though.

matryoshka
Oct. 20, 2009, 03:21 PM
Why don't you convince your horse that you are the calm, experienced buddy. You will take care of her no matter what, so she trusts you and no ground is ever totally new when you are with her.

I'm thinking this is more a confidence issue for you than for the horse. You may need the buddy horse more than your mare. She may be responding you your lack of confidence. Perhaps you can get somebody to go out with you on a mountain bike. Or hiking.

Cashela
Oct. 20, 2009, 03:47 PM
I'm in the just do it category. I ride by myself a lot and try and find new places all of the time.

horsegeeks
Oct. 20, 2009, 04:13 PM
I was at a boading barn and showed my mare fairly heavily. I had several people assume that since I showed, I wouldn't be interested in trail riding. (Particularly since I showed saddle seat) In fact I love trail riding. I also had a long time friend that loves to trail ride. She'd go out and ride for hours. My version of trail riding it a 1-3 walk with an occassional trot. I assumed my friend wouldn't be interested in poking along. It turned out that she loved to, since she could really see the terrain and we could talk. We finally started trail riding together, I go with her at the start ... which she treats as a warm up for her horse. We loop back and she continues on to do the type of ride she likes. So, you might be surprised at who would want to go with you ... and have a blast doing it.

I'm a timid rider and find that singing and talking to my horse helps me ... and therefore her. (She has "The Ants Go Marching" memorized now!)

I also hiked with my mare all over the place ... particularly if we were going to a new spot. It really helped her. I did precisely what has been suggested before. Lead. Then ground drive. Finally ride. She remained "goosey" with dairy cows ... but really became quite good.

atr
Oct. 20, 2009, 04:38 PM
Helmet on, vest on, cell phone on, and off you go...

Isn't trail riding largely about going exploring? Or do you just do the same trails over and over again?

sublimequine
Oct. 20, 2009, 06:07 PM
Well I had these grand plans today to hit the barn and work on the methods I learned here in this thread.. got all tacked up and ready to go...

..and then the LADYBUGS SWARMED. :mad::mad::mad:

I can't believe how bad they were. Covering my poor mare, flying into my face, I couldn't get away from them. I tried riding more out in the open, more in the woods, closer to the barn, farther from the barn, nothing helped. They. WERE. EVERYWHERE. :mad:

I called it quits after one flew into my damn ear canal. Homie don't play that. :dead:

Even if they weren't bothering me so much, they kept flying and landing on my poor mare's face, and she was flinging her head around wildly to get them off. DAMN BUGS. :(

rmh_rider
Oct. 20, 2009, 07:11 PM
You asked:

So, how do you despook/introduce a horse to new trails without having a calm buddy along for the ride?


I reply: Hand walk the horse on the trails. Fully tacked up, bridle, bit, etc, and have the halter lead rope on them also. Then when you both are comfy, hop on and ride. You should have no problem. Horses have seen trails. New stuff is fun and interesting and new. I have yet to EVER have a horse act up due to new trails. Mostly they are cautious but not spooky. They seem to really enjoy new places. I also love new places to explore.

Yup just do it! As cashela has just said.

rmh_rider
Oct. 20, 2009, 07:18 PM
Horsegeeks:

Dangit, if I have that SONG in my head for more than the next "while" I am gonna freak. Now why did you have to go and SAY a thing like that?

Oh, if my horse is a bit scared or does something brave, like i dunno, cross a scary log, I will tell her good girl and scratch her wither on the left side (where her mane isn't). This is calming to her. Her momma itched her there too. I will give her encouragement, you can do it, or you are doing good, and itch her there. Up near the saddle so my hand isn't far from where it should be.

Speaking of riding today, my 3.5 yr old was a brat. We rode in the pasture and they are always brats when you ride at home it seems. She saw to reason after awhile. Just a young brat. A smooth gaiting brat though. :-) Love my Rocky! My endurance arab is not a brat in the pasture, he has been ridden so much in the pasture nothing surprises him. If so, better take notice. He is now 12, had him since he was a weanling of 3.5 months so we know each other really well.

Sithly
Oct. 20, 2009, 07:58 PM
I'm a Just Do It kinda gal. I had no one to ride out with when I got my Clyde-x either, so without a second thought, I just did it.

The key is YOU: you need to stay quiet in the saddle, act like everything you come across has been seen a million times and is no big deal.


I agree with this. Just ride your horse. New trails aren't a big deal unless you make them a big deal.

If you lack confidence, work on yourself. My group of friends includes several timid riders, and what has helped all of them the most was taking some riding lessons that specifically focused on their seat and their core strength. Their confidence grew as they became better riders. As they became better riders, they found they could easily sit the spooks and bumps that used to unnerve them. It was a total upward spiral.

pj
Oct. 20, 2009, 10:47 PM
Other day she saw the Giant Garbage Can on Wheels for the first time in the neighbor's driveway (we just got garbage pickup for the rural parts of our county a few weeks ago.) Sadie spooked in place, didnt wheel, but also didnt want to go past the booger. I laughed at her and repeated a familiar phrase from when I was doing clicker training with her a couple years ago: 'Can you touch it?' Then I told her I'd give her a peppermint if she touched it with her nose. Whereupon she marched over, nosed it good, and begged nicely for her peppermint.

I had never used the phrase for anything but targeting, and havent done any clicker stuff with her in ages and ages. Decided that's a handy thing to have in the tool-kit, though.

AB...SO...LUTELY!!!
I didn't use a clicker but the "command" was "it's just a booger, touch it" when I first started my mare and then a "good, girl" with a treat and it still works five years later. First time I've trained using this and it's the best thing I've ever done.

As to the hitting the trails alone that is what I did when my mare was first started on trails.
First couple of times out we went with another horse but after that we went alone for months. The mare learned to depend on me rather than another horse but, of course,
:D I had the "it's just a booger" to fall back on when needed.

Simbalism
Oct. 21, 2009, 04:58 AM
When I first started riding my TB mare on trails, I also didn't have a steady eddie horse/rider pair to go out with. I boarded at a show barn and my mare did show, but we had access to tons of trails and I wanted to do that also. My mare was younger and could be spooky, so I was nervous(had suffered a bad fall with fractures and hospitalization from a previous horse). I would tack my horse up and start out riding her down the road towards the trails and if she did something that scared me, I would make her walk a little bit farther and then get off and lead her. We would do activities like step over the log, back up 5 steps, back into the woods, step over the ditch, whatever in the area where we were. I think by concentrating on tasks/exercises it helped focus her and calm me. I might walk her for quite a ways or just a little bit and when I found a rock or stump or other feature I could stand on, I would get back on and ride for awhile. I would often sing to her. Another thing that helped to keep her focused on me was to use ear plugs. I also did tons of bombproofing clinics and will frequently do some bombproofing at the home farm. I now have a horse that will go anywhere and I don't have to worry that she won't do what I want her to do.

Huntertwo
Oct. 21, 2009, 06:38 AM
I'm moving to a new barn at the end of the month and have to discover new trails as well and an indoor... (yeah) :)

Whenever I've changed barns, I just "go". Stay relaxed, look ahead -

If she is a bit spookier, just go a little further up the trail day by day. Even if it is 5, 10 minutes...

Good luck.

sunridge1
Oct. 21, 2009, 12:17 PM
Yep just ride. However, I had it easy with my horses, they are walk through fire types and so am I. My dog was also always along running point. They watch her ALOT, to the point where they try follow her when she goes off trail.:lol:

tpup
Oct. 21, 2009, 08:54 PM
When I moved to our new, smaller barn, I moved away from my riding buddy, and the trails my horse knew so well. I had to have the "Just Do It" approach or we simply wouldn't have ridden out.

My plan was hand walk a loop with horse tacked up - when we reached the furthest part of that loop, I hopped on wherever I could, and calmly rode home. My horse is very good hand walking. By the 2nd or third time out, I rode him the entire time. He used to be very barn sour, especially going out alone, and I finally realized I like to ride out, and often, I like to go alone, so I put on the vest, helmet, and bring my cell phone.

Singing used to help me ALOT. I used to sing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star over and over again - it was more to calm my nerves than his :) . Now I just talk to my horse....chat to him about the day, the scenery, and I always always keep him busy - either leg yielding, lots of halt/walk/trot transitions. It's harder to spook when their minds are busy and focused on moving their feet. Good luck....and I say just do it - start with short treks and increase the distance slowly. Give her lots of pats and even bring a treat when she rides out calm. :)

sublimequine
Oct. 21, 2009, 09:01 PM
When I moved to our new, smaller barn, I moved away from my riding buddy, and the trails my horse knew so well. I had to have the "Just Do It" approach or we simply wouldn't have ridden out.

My plan was hand walk a loop with horse tacked up - when we reached the furthest part of that loop, I hopped on wherever I could, and calmly rode home. My horse is very good hand walking. By the 2nd or third time out, I rode him the entire time. He used to be very barn sour, especially going out alone, and I finally realized I like to ride out, and often, I like to go alone, so I put on the vest, helmet, and bring my cell phone.

Singing used to help me ALOT. I used to sing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star over and over again - it was more to calm my nerves than his :) . Now I just talk to my horse....chat to him about the day, the scenery, and I always always keep him busy - either leg yielding, lots of halt/walk/trot transitions. It's harder to spook when their minds are busy and focused on moving their feet. Good luck....and I say just do it - start with short treks and increase the distance slowly. Give her lots of pats and even bring a treat when she rides out calm. :)

I've seen a vest mentioned once or twice in this thread.. are you referring to a cross-country vest? Does it really help protect even if you don't jump? I always assumed vests were for protecting you if you got catapulted into a jump standard or something.. :lol:

I like to be the safety queen, I always ALWAYS ride with a helmet, I use peacock stirrups (yes, they make adult size peacock stirrups :cool: ), I'm always alert about my surroundings, etc. But honestly wearing a vest never even dawned on me.

matryoshka
Oct. 21, 2009, 09:20 PM
Vests help for impacts with the ground, too. And if your horse steps on you. I don't have one but have heard of nasty injuries from simple impacts with the ground, even on a soft arena surface.

Anything that helps prevent a fractured rib is a good thing, especially since bad fractures can puncture internal stuff.

One friend tells me her posture is better when she wears a vest and she has less back pain. I'd like to get one. It's on the list, sometime after I get one for my daughter who as begun riding.

sublimequine
Oct. 21, 2009, 10:01 PM
Vests help for impacts with the ground, too. And if your horse steps on you. I don't have one but have heard of nasty injuries from simple impacts with the ground, even on a soft arena surface.

Anything that helps prevent a fractured rib is a good thing, especially since bad fractures can puncture internal stuff.

One friend tells me her posture is better when she wears a vest and she has less back pain. I'd like to get one. It's on the list, sometime after I get one for my daughter who as begun riding.

That's good to know! I definitely can't afford one right now.. but I'll think about putting one on my x-mas list. :)

JollyBadger
Oct. 22, 2009, 11:59 AM
I also vote for the "just do it" strategy. When I first moved my horse (four years old at the time) to a barn that bordered the trail system at a local state park, I never would have gone riding at all if I waited for other boarders to ride with. It was especially true when temperatures dipped below t-shirt weather, or the trails weren't dry enough to kick up dust, or the flies were bad, or there was wind. . .you get the point.:rolleyes:

Not to say we always had perfect trail rides or that my horse always behaved himself when we were away from the barn on our own, but it was a great way to get him used to the idea of not riding in a group, and not having a "herd" to rely on. I'd go out for hours at a time, just exploring the trails and new routes. Occasionally I'd take my dog (Rottweiler) with us, and my horse seemed to enjoy the company.

He's now eleven years old and a very solid, very independent and self-aware trail horse. Even if we're out with a group, and the horses in front of us have already picked their way through a tricky descent, my horse focuses on where he is putting his own feet and isn't worried about being left behind. Although I lost my Rottie to cancer a few years ago, I sometimes "borrow" my parents' young Labrador/Great Dane cross. He's only ten months old, so it's a great way to take the edge off some of that puppy energy, too.:D

AHorseoffCourse
Oct. 22, 2009, 07:05 PM
I ALWAYS ride alone (no other choice - no one in my area:( ). when starting a new horse on trails I usually walk or hand jog them. If they seem pretty solid, off we go. I do quite a bit of hand jogging anyways in races through, so even on a horse I know I'll get off quite a bit if I'm feeling up to it.

Thomas_1
Oct. 22, 2009, 07:32 PM
I just ride them out.

wsmoak
Oct. 22, 2009, 07:41 PM
My husband has been hiking while I ride the trails in our local mountain parks.

(He gets no end of grief about having lost his horse, etc. from people we encounter, but he's doing it for the exercise.)

katarine
Oct. 22, 2009, 08:13 PM
We bought a horse over the weekend so the poor guy gets to adjust to a new home, new herd, new peeps, new trails. He came home Saturday. Had Sunday off with just a short ride around the yard. Monday, we went out alone down the road.

I took him out alone, with my good dog. He was a little looky- but if YOU look where YOU want to go, and ride to it, then to the next spot, with soft eyes, regular old breathing, and a smile, you'll get there. Rode him the same way yesterday and today, handed him to my SO, who went off and rode him alone, too.

As many hours and miles as the OP has in her horse- Just Do It ought to be where they are. If anything, adding a vest is going to amplify the sense of Danger, Will Robinson.

Ride the horse. If you get dumped, ride better next time :)

Allagash's mom
Oct. 22, 2009, 10:05 PM
Just go do it. Be patient and calm the first few times -- my girl would turn towards home or away from the scare bush/rock/creek/bridge and I'd calmly redirect her with a good supportive leg cue and she'd sigh and proceed on ward.

I DID talk to folks so I knew where the trails were before I headed out, but since then we've been all over the canyon since then by ourselves.

jubilee43
Oct. 23, 2009, 10:24 AM
I never hand walk or get off a horse on a trail because it is too easy to lose them if they spook and jerk the line away from you. Plus the whole leadership thing is different when you are on the ground. Take a little edge off your horse by lunging them or I ride them a couple trotting miles in a large open field if they are very green and hot. I always ride a new horse alone and it gives them a great deal of trust in me as the leader. If horse sees a deer and spooks, I make horse turn and chase the darn deer. I always laugh and keep them moving at the pace I want them moving at. They never get to choose the speed. This helps keep them focused on me and what I will want next. I may throw a small figure 8 in on a narrow trail all of a sudden at a walk just so they are completely paying attention to me. Wider trails get faster turns. We work on picking up the correct lead to canter into a turn properly, this may include several stops and starts. It is all about me and what I want and when they come back from the ride they are never running to the barn but on a loose rein, happy to relax and feeling very good about themselves.

tkhawk
Oct. 23, 2009, 11:34 AM
Depends on the horse too. Mine is on her best behaviour when I trailer out and take her to a new trail. Then she is totally focussed on me and very quiet. She is still looking everywhere-she is your sterotypical Arab mare-but looks to cues from me.

If it is an old trail we have been on multiple times, or we head out from the barn, then she gets quite opinionated!:winkgrin: With her it was simply finding the difference between fear and Oh! I know my way around and I don't need this fool on my back telling me what to do!:) For the latter, it was just reminding her that I may be the fool on her back, but push comes to shove, you better listen to me. As she has aged , she is becoming a bit quieter, but I think will always be a hot headed , opinionated creature-that is just who she is and what I love her for. Once you figure out their game, they usually don't push much after that.

Other horses , once they get the experience are just fine and don't require as much back and forth and are much more honest.

Gatorsgirl
Oct. 23, 2009, 11:51 AM
Depends on the horse too. Mine is on her best behaviour when I trailer out and take her to a new trail. Then she is totally focussed on me and very quiet. She is still looking everywhere-she is your sterotypical Arab mare-but looks to cues from me.

If it is an old trail we have been on multiple times, or we head out from the barn, then she gets quite opinionated!:winkgrin: With her it was simply finding the difference between fear and Oh! I know my way around and I don't need this fool on my back telling me what to do!:) For the latter, it was just reminding her that I may be the fool on her back, but push comes to shove, you better listen to me. .


THIS is my gelding. As long as I'm quiet and calm myself on new trails he's soooo interested and well behaved. Used to them? THAT is surely a new XXXX thing mom! No? Oh... can we go fast now?

I like this thread though because I never thought of wearing bells (forgot who suggested it) for scaring deer off. Deer are his nemesis still. He's an ex-arena baby but find the trails very interesting. He's loving the idea he can do more than walk outside the arena - it sort of blew his mind I'd want to do that. :)

We just switched barns though to somewhere with no ring and trails that aren't very explored... but I'll probably just ride out. I may walk it alone on foot first to make sure footing is safe since no one has been out there but after that we'll roll. I might need a vest too.

tpup
Oct. 23, 2009, 06:00 PM
Regarding the vest, yes, I wear it to trail ride especially because I often ride alone - I wear the bulkier kind (not the Tipperary) and I like it because it provides back and tailbone protection. I fell off once with the vest - horse spooked out from under me when sleeping deer leaped out of tall grass about 3 feet away from us - I landed in tall, soft grass on my back/tailbone area. I was sore, but hate to think how it would have felt without the vest. It also protects your organs (somewhat) should you land on something or bang into something. The back of the vest does interfere slightly when I canter, but it's worth it to me. I wear it every time I trail ride.

Also, to the OP...have you considered a Western saddle for the first few rides? That helped give me more confidence and security when my guy was really barn sour and acting up. It's hard to believe now that I ride alone in an English saddle with no barnsourness - gosh I never, ever thought we'd get there, but we did!! :yes:

jeano
Oct. 23, 2009, 07:04 PM
Darn the sleeping deer--one erupted from the tall weeds yesterday and Sadie propped and did a quarter spin--not enough for me to come off, fortunately. (And I was glad it WAS the Western saddle that I havent ridden her in for months, too.) She knew the deer was there before it broke cover--had her neck and ears up high so I was sort of ready for something. The deer rocketed straight UP in the air and startled us both when it did.

Had a running deer leap up in the air and drop down into a sunken road I was riding on once, damn thing seemed to be falling out of a tree, was nearly 10 feet off the ground when it became visible. That'll wake up even a old broke trail horse.

goeslikestink
Oct. 24, 2009, 05:16 PM
Sorry for the long title, couldn't think of a better way to put it! :lol:

I'm at a new barn, been there a few months now. The maresie has settled in nicely, and we've been slowly working on the trails (which are quite extensive). She's quite used to being ridden by herself, as that's what we do the vast majority of the time. However, I really prefer to introduce a horse to new trails with another experienced mount along for the ride. It really does seem to help keep the horse confident and willing to check out new places.

Unfortunately, that's just not an option for us. The few folks I see riding at my barn... I'd rather not ride with. It would be more risky than just riding by myself.

So, how do you despook/introduce a horse to new trails without having a calm buddy along for the ride? The mare enjoys trails, but I wouldn't call her a trailmaster or anything. She spooks rather easily in new environments, and it can be hard to keep her composure. Once she's familiar with the trail? No problem, we're set. But GETTING her familiar with the trail, without having a quiet buddy to help us, has been difficult. :no:

start off as you mean to go on -- ride her out assertive and position and confident and she will do the same

PalominoMorgan
Oct. 25, 2009, 09:34 AM
I have done trail walks and the just do it way too. I have found my horses are highly motivated by food. They were always happy to be brave when they knew they would get a horse cookie for it. Now, a "good girl" will do the trick, but while we were building our relationship I used treats too.

Have you done a fair amount of ground work, trust building, and bomb proofing with your horse? I think a lot of horses are capable of leaning to cope with novel situations if they can have come confidence building sessions in the ring or around the barn.

CosMonster
Oct. 25, 2009, 10:56 AM
I too just do it. I like to have a buddy for the first few rides on a green bean or a horse who isn't used to trail riding, but after we ride out alone no matter where I feel like going. I don't like having to schedule around other people. ;)

If I'm on a really spooky horse who can't handle it well on their own, then I take them out for short bits at a time like a previous poster suggested, turning back before they have a chance to get completely fried. I've always found that gets them over it pretty quickly. Singing and talking does help keep their attention on you. In my experience, though, even though I ride mostly Arabs and TBs, it's a rare horse who really needs that sort of conditioning. Most of them get over their fear pretty quickly if you just put the miles on them.

Another trick if you have a horse that starts to tense up is to put them in a little shoulder-in or shoulder-fore down the trail. It gets their attention on you. I live in a high mountain desert where there is fairly sparse vegetation and no real trails, so I also do lots of figure-8s and serpentines and things around bushes and rocks, going up and down into washes, things like that. Again, anything to keep the horse's attention on me if they're feeling froggy. I can see where that might be more difficult if you have to keep to a specific trail, but you can still do things like leg-yielding from side to side, serpentines, etc. in the wider sections. Even if it is just a couple of steps, it keeps your horse looking to you for guidance, and that's the key. Ride your horse and be confident, and eventually you'll become her trail buddy and you won't need that other horse.

sublimequine
Oct. 25, 2009, 11:11 AM
I too just do it. I like to have a buddy for the first few rides on a green bean or a horse who isn't used to trail riding, but after we ride out alone no matter where I feel like going. I don't like having to schedule around other people. ;)

If I'm on a really spooky horse who can't handle it well on their own, then I take them out for short bits at a time like a previous poster suggested, turning back before they have a chance to get completely fried. I've always found that gets them over it pretty quickly. Singing and talking does help keep their attention on you. In my experience, though, even though I ride mostly Arabs and TBs, it's a rare horse who really needs that sort of conditioning. Most of them get over their fear pretty quickly if you just put the miles on them.

Another trick if you have a horse that starts to tense up is to put them in a little shoulder-in or shoulder-fore down the trail. It gets their attention on you. I live in a high mountain desert where there is fairly sparse vegetation and no real trails, so I also do lots of figure-8s and serpentines and things around bushes and rocks, going up and down into washes, things like that. Again, anything to keep the horse's attention on me if they're feeling froggy. I can see where that might be more difficult if you have to keep to a specific trail, but you can still do things like leg-yielding from side to side, serpentines, etc. in the wider sections. Even if it is just a couple of steps, it keeps your horse looking to you for guidance, and that's the key. Ride your horse and be confident, and eventually you'll become her trail buddy and you won't need that other horse.

Unfortunately quite a few of the trails here are quite narrow, with a fence on one side and burr bushes/random brush/trees on the other. The trail itself isn't even wide enough for two horses to ride abreast. So circles, serpentines, figure 8s, are all out. :(

ayrabz
Oct. 25, 2009, 01:57 PM
You've gotten great advice so far.
One question: What exactly IS your fear, if she's spooky / if she shys? (I swear, I don't mean that as a $marta$$ commment...) what I mean is, does she bolt and take off with you, spin, or crow hop/rear? I guess I'm asking, since my guy is as 'reactive' as they come...but, (yeah, big knock on wood here) to date, his shys are not excessively 'dangerous'...he's not one to 'learn' how to dump me, and try it each time. And, yes, there are (!) horses that have learned that behavior and will shy in a dangerous way! If you've had those experiences with her, I perfectly understand your concerns.
I have found I have to ride alone so many times, that if I avoid it, I don't get to ride. So, we brave it, go for it, ride defensively but not with a death grip/fear, and get passed it. You'll have to evaluate your opportunities to ride, and if indeed they are going to be 'alone' then you'll have to go for it, or relocate, I guess?

best of luck!

Come Shine
Oct. 25, 2009, 06:35 PM
It sure can be nerve wracking the first few times. I find riding with a safety vest gives me a little boost of confidence which seems to help. If you are looking for one for just at home, try getting something second hand, perhaps not in this season's latest style or colour. It will be about half the price of new.

As well, raising the expectations - in general - at home can be helpful, so both you and your horse learn to step up to the plate when the going gets a bit tough.

Mind you, take this advice with a bit of salt. Today, when asked to go down a bit of a steep hill, my mare graciously stepped aside to let my husband go first. :)

whitesage
Oct. 29, 2009, 09:54 PM
I have a green horse and one thing I did when I was getting him used to new environments / going out on trails was to put him in a rope halter with a 12' line, and then lead him with me back by his barrel, so I was on the ground, but I was 'behind' him so he still had to lead. Safer than riding them when they're spooky and helps them build confidence more than just leading them with you in front.

Use a whip to tap them to go forward, and the lead helps you turn their nose if you need to. Takes a bit of getting used to, but it was an important in-between step for my horse and I transitioning from our 'trail walks' to me being in the saddle.

baylady7
Oct. 30, 2009, 02:20 PM
You can get the trail bells as part of a rhytmn beads set or just order the bells themselves. I get my sets from Chicks Saddlery http://www.chicksaddlery.com/ which has very inexpensive ones that I tend to replace each year (they get rusty due to humidity in the summer).

ChocoMare
Oct. 30, 2009, 02:27 PM
LOVELY rhythm beads here: http://www.zegifts.com/ :yes:

tpup
Oct. 31, 2009, 12:29 PM
Chocomare, thanks for the link to the beads! They are beautiful!

One more thing...if your trail is narrow, you can keep your horse busy with LOTS of transitions....walk/halt/trot, trot/halt/walk. Make sure you give lots of pats and "good boy/girls" when they transition sharply and follow your aids. You can also back your horse up 10 yards, then walk....back up then trot, back then canter. We do alot of backing - softens and relaxes my horse. And you can leg yield a step or two in each direction, even on a narrow trail sometimes. Keep your horse's mind focused on you! :)

Jess!
Nov. 1, 2009, 12:55 AM
Unfortunately, I have to ride by myself almost all the time so it's "just do it". It can be pretty interesting with a green four year old Arabian, but I talk to her a lot when something scares her. She's still under the impression it's okay to spin and bolt, so we're working on that.

As long as the horse trusts you to get him/her through things and to protect them, most will follow you wherever you want as long as it's not going to really endanger them, then they usually put the breaks on unless you really convince them otherwise...and often time they were right anyways.

But yes, just go and do it :) It can be a lot slower, but it's better than no progress at all. My filly and I move forward at a good trot and even canter, but have lots of unexpected stops and "snorts" at many, many things. She eventually learns that stretch of trail after a few times, though.