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A Hunter Rider on a Trail Ride!

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  • A Hunter Rider on a Trail Ride!

    I have been on a few trail rides, but it has been a long time and I now know enough about horses/riding to now actually think about safety. I guess I'm long past my "whatever let's get on it and run down the beach" phase

    Anyway we are going to Alisal Guest Ranch out in Solvang, CA for my birthday, and one of the fun things they have is trail rides. From their "appropriate gear," the first thing that worries me is that it looks like they don't require helmets.

    I think I would feel naked without a helmet, and probably it would make me nervous enough to worry the horse, but am I going to look silly in my pretty CO hat? (I don't care about messing it up, it is my spare older schooling hat). Looking silly is probably better than a chance spook and cracking my skull, but still I wonder.

    The second thing is that they are western saddles and they are saying jeans are fine. Am I going to chafe to death on jean seams? If I wear breeches am I going to get a weird reaction? I was thinking about wearing my black ones with my suede tredstep half chaps because they would be super comfy. Again, laughed off the trail?

    Also, since it has been so long since I've ridden anything in a western bit/bridle, any tips/pointers for someone that rides strictly hunters/eq (even on the trail with my own horse, or we just go bareback)?

    Thanks so much in advance! I'm super excited!
    "Look, I'm trying not to test the durability of the arena with my face!" (Because only GM can do that.)

  • #2
    Hi, I worked as a trail guide on the east coast some years ago so this is from that point of view. You may know a lot of it, but I gave you extra info just in case.

    I think you should wear whatever you are comfortable in.

    As far as staring or snickering, a lot of western horse rental places will roll their eyes when they see helmets or breeches. I wouldn't worry about it. You are the one paying and it is your head.

    You shouldn't get rubbed in jeans- most western saddles will put you in a bit of a chair seat and the seams won't bother you. You also don't constantly rub your calves in the girth area when riding western b/c your stirrups are longer and on a trail ride you don't need tight calf contact.

    If you go through trails with brambles, they will grab your breeches and may put snags in them. If I were going I'd wear jeans, paddock boots, helmet. If I was going on a long ride, I'd wear a sweatshirt around my waist that can easily be put under my butt in case my butt gets to hurting. Day two of riding 3 and 4 hours a day, and you'll really treasure the sweatshirt.

    Other hints- make sure that you don't make too big a deal of your ridinge experience, because everyone who goes there will tell them that they are advanced since they rode 4 or 5 times in their lives. This is sure to cause eye rolling and you will either get put on the same dead quiet horse they planned on giving you in the first place, or you will get stuck with an annoying head tossing horse that they reserve for the "professionals"- snicker, snicker. None of the horses should be wild, but some are more annoying than others.

    Make sure you stay in line if they tell you to- a lot of hack horses will kick anyone trying to pass. If you have to pass, give the horse at least 10' or more. Some of them will go out of their way to reach you.

    For riding a horse with a western bit, leave slack in the reins. There should be a visible loop in the reins. You still have contact but it shouldn't be a direct line which would cause the curb strap to constantly dig into the horse. Same as English, if you ask the horse to slow down and it slows down, reward it with releasing pressure.

    Check your girth before you get on- some places aren't so great about that. They will roll their eyes at this, but don't worry- you are the one who will end up on the ground if the girth is too loose. If you want it tighter, you should ask them to do it in case your horse has any weird issues- and you prob don't know how to do the western girth anyway.

    Make sure your stirrups feel good and even before you head out. For my stirrup length, I stick my arm out with my fingers straight out and put my fingers up at the stirrup bars. Then I make the stirrup hit my arm pit. This is the starting point. From there you may want them up or down a bit once you get on. Make sure when you stand in the stirrups you are clearing the saddle, but you don't want them as short as H/J flatting stirrups.

    If you think your horse will run your knee into a tree and steering isn't getting the job done, just lean over and push on the tree. The horse will be forced to move a step away and your knee will be safe.

    If in doubt about something, grab the horn (as long as your girth is tight). Don't worry, no one will know!

    Feel free to post or not. Some of the horses may have nice QH jogs and you won't even need to post.

    You mount from the ground, so make sure your toes are digging into the girth or nothing, not the horse's side.

    Sounds like a great trip! Have fun!


    • #3
      If I wear jeans in a western saddle, I will get ouchy. But, I am the original Princess from the Princess and the Pea- I have fibromyalgia and lots of things that shouldn't bother me, cause serious pain and annoyance.

      If you can wear chinks or chaps over your breeches, nobody will notice.

      Otherwise, quite probably lots of folks wear lots of different things, and you will NOT be the first to wear a nice helmet or breeches. But if it embarrasses you to look different, go ahead and wear the jeans...a pair of padded bicycle shorts underneath that nobody can see should do wonders...and your knees won't get nearly as chafed in a western saddle, the fenders will take care of that unless you are in the saddle for more than 6 hours or so.


      • #4
        I've been on trail rides all over the world over the years. I bring and wear my helmet. I really could give a hoot about what anyone says.....it is my brain and I don't feel like risking it for the sake of fashion or the opinion of others. Be smart and wear your helmet!
        Where Fjeral Norwegian Fjords Rule


        • Original Poster

          You guys are amazing!! Such great advice. I will take everyone's advice!

          Maybe I can split the difference on breeches and find some jeans with little or no seams.

          For experience what should I say? How about "I ride but only really in an arena. I can stay on ok..." or something like that? That is about as confident as I feel on a trail anyway!

          Sounds like I'm packing the helmet! Like I've said in the past, who wants to clean up brains?
          "Look, I'm trying not to test the durability of the arena with my face!" (Because only GM can do that.)


          • #6
            Great advice!

            I think your reply for experience is spot on. Yes, you've ridden, but you are out of your element on the trails. Perfect!

            Biggest thing... RELAX.. just think these horses are used to packing around people who have NEVER even sat on a horse, let alone have some arena time. Trust the horses to do their jobs, sit back and snap some pix!

            Also, don't try to micro manage the horses.. They will NOT be happy.. They are very used to just following the horse in front of them on a loose rein. Don't try much yielding or softening.. It will just confuse them.

            You will have a great time and it might even inspire you to get outta the ring once you get back home
            All horses can go barefoot, but not all owners can - words of wisdom!


            • #7
              Originally posted by piftisha View Post
              Maybe I can split the difference on breeches and find some jeans with little or no seams.
              Wrangler makes some wonderful jeans with nice, flat seams for riding in. Their "Ultimate Riding Jeans" are pretty nice and look pretty good on most folks, too. heck, I've worn them all the time for years--both in the saddle and out. You can find them locally at western wear stores, or order the online (I get mine from Valley Vet Supply, since they're much cheaper there, ha.)
              The Western Adventures of Loki, a Florida Swampdog in Los Angeles


              • #8
                When I go trail riding in a western saddle, I absolutely wear my helmet, I don't care if anyone thinks I look dumb...I'm trying to keep from getting MORE dumb should I fall off and hit my head.

                I have a full chaps I put on over jeans to ride in western saddles, they are no longer fashionable on the H/J scene, but I keep them anyway, for just this reason. Full schooling chaps should be pretty cheap these days, because they are out of style, if you can find them...for off the rack chaps, the Barnstables seem to have the best fit. I got an extra pair at Dover in the summer for a whopping $39 bucks (no more than a decent pair of jeans) on clearance, I think they are gone from their site now, but you can probably find others on sale out there.


                • #9
                  I wouldn't be concerned about the helmet. I think you'd look dumber with a head injury that could have been prevented. Wear your helmet. I've stopped worrying about what other's think a long time ago and just do what I know is the right thing to do. Besides, I'm a trail rider and more and more "western" type trail riders are wising up and wearing helmets.
                  Regarding the jeans....you can find jeans made for riding fairly cheap and you can use them for schooling later: http://www.jeffersequine.com/product...=J0-88&cn=2409 These would be really cute worn with half chaps.
                  Relax and enjoy! Solvang is a beautiful area, the ponies are probably docile and won't need much input from you so just have a good time.
                  "My biggest fear is that when I die my husband is going to try to sell all my horses and tack for what I told him they cost."


                  • #10
                    Yep, lots of folks riding in Wranglers, for a reason. The newer styles come in stretch denim, which is even better for some. I get mine in the $10 seconds pile at the local farm supply store ...but I still ride in breeches, because I'm a sensitive flower, dangit. Just make sure you get a longer inseam than you would wear for regular 'street clothes', 4 to even 6 inches longer will be just right.


                    • #11
                      Wear your helmet but tell them you never ride outside the arena and don't trail ride, period. Or tell them you've never ridden before but are safety conscious and read on the innnernette that helmets R good. Last thing you want is for them to think you know how to ride


                      • #12
                        When I have gone on beach rides, resort rides or other trail rides at trail "places", I almost ALWAYS say that yes, I do ride, but I prefer a more quiet, beginner horse. I have seen the "experienced" rider horses in full action and what I have witnessed was more bad behavior than anything. One guy described himself as a very "advanced" rider and they put him on this TB that was rearing and had to be out in front and was racing down the beach. It was not enjoyable for him at ALL.

                        On that same ride I had told the guide that I owned an Appy. She immediately stereotyped the type of horse I could "handle" and matched me up with a b****y mare that bit at my boot almost the entire ride and had major attitude. Their comment was "oh she can definitely handle Tulip" or whatever her name was, LOL. Little did they know my Appy is 20, quiet and extremely sweet/well behaved.

                        So in other words, fib a little and don't tell them TOO much. Many judge too quickly or form incorrect assumptions.

                        And yes, I bring and wear my helmet every time.

                        Have fun!!


                        • #13
                          First off...who cares what anyone thinks about what you ride in? Got chaps? They can protect your britches...wear boots and britches...it's your vacation, were what you want.

                          Good advice to check the girth/tack...make sure it's safe and say so if it doesn't seem in good shape.
                          "Sic Gorgiamus Allos Subjectatos Nunc"


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by piftisha View Post
                            Also, since it has been so long since I've ridden anything in a western bit/bridle, any tips/pointers for someone that rides strictly hunters/eq (even on the trail with my own horse, or we just go bareback)?
                            To this specifically, I'd say relax and sit back! Occasional a friend of mine who rides hunters comes out to ride with me on my DH's horse. This is the thing I always have to remind her of. You know that horse is going to be dead broke and able to do his own thing with or without you. Wear your helmet, relax, and have a great time!
                            "Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall." - Confucious
                            <>< I.I.


                            • #15
                              I always wear a helmet whether western or english. I used to never wear a helmet western and then I watched a good friend take a freak fall on a perfect horse. She fell off backwards and hit the rail of the arena. She was wearing a helmet and still suffered a major concussion. Her helmet was cracked in 3 places and the doctor said she would be dead without it.


                              • Original Poster

                                Thank you again! I ran over to our local tack shop today, and they had a few good options for breeches hiding as jeans, but I like the options posted here better...they are cheaper! We have a surplus store that stocks wranglers, so I'm going to go check those out, or I will order them online.

                                Thanks again!!
                                "Look, I'm trying not to test the durability of the arena with my face!" (Because only GM can do that.)


                                • #17
                                  Have Fun, Wear what YOU are comfortable in, definitely take & wear your helmet!

                                  I wear helmet & breeches, some are jean-looking stretchy material, when I ride in western saddle.... it's just comfy for me. Jeans can have nasty seams & rub you raw if you sweat alot when you ride, imho.

                                  Do Have a Fun Ride... & update us all when you come back on how you liked or dislike your "trail-riding" experience there.
                                  ‎"Luck favors the prepared, darling." ~~ Edna Mode


                                  • #18
                                    If you want to be stylish you MUST wear a spaggetti strap tank top, jeans, a buckstitched belt, and have large saddlebags filled with ice & beer. Please don't forget the high heeled boots with your jeans tucked in. A goat roper hat is nice too.

                                    Seriously, take your helmet and wear what you are comfortable in. The first rule of trail riding is comfort.

                                    Depending on how long you will be riding you may want to take a water bottle though. Fill it 3/4 with water, freeze it. Top it off in the morning before you head out, and you'll have cool water for a few hours. The bottle holders are really cheap.


                                    • Original Poster

                                      The trip is the weekend after my birthday (which is Feb. 23) so I will post a report and pics after!

                                      I'm looking at all of the riding jeans, and Mary's Tack is having their tent sale a week before my trip, so I may drive down there if I haven't found anything yet.

                                      We're also doing the P90X thing to get in shape, so I may go down a size before then. I like to hover between 28 and 30 breeches, so hopefully this will get me back down to 28...or maybe even 26!
                                      "Look, I'm trying not to test the durability of the arena with my face!" (Because only GM can do that.)


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by pnalley View Post
                                        If you want to be stylish you MUST wear a spaggetti strap tank top.
                                        You forgot to add the bra-straps that are falling down in a color that was never designed by exist in nature.
                                        "Sic Gorgiamus Allos Subjectatos Nunc"