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Max the trail horse!

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  • Max the trail horse!

    So I do hunters, but our barn recently relocated to a property within a county park with lots of trails. Today we went out as a barn on a trail ride, about 8 of us hunters + the trainer.

    Max started out a little weirded out and confused about why he and all his friends were walking AWAY from the arena, but he calmed down pretty quickly. About 1/2 mile into the ride, we came to our first stream crossing...maybe 15" deep and 20 feet wide and really calm. Even though 2 of the horses in front lost their minds (1 rider went for a swim) Max tromped through like it was no big thing! He even stopped to paw and stick his nose in it a little, but I didn't want to go for a swim so I kept his head up for no rolling.

    Some rangers found our rather large hunter-looking group and helped pony the reluctant ones back across the water, and clearly we looked like morons because they stayed with the group that continued on to make sure we made it past the other water...so Max made some western horse friends too.

    So after the 1st stream crossing and 2 horses down (went back to the barn because there was more water coming up and no one wanted to swim again!) the rest of us continued on. Max was just great through all the rest of the water (I was sure he was going to lay down and float at one point!) and was a totally different horse on the trail. He had a few little spooks, but he didn't go anywhere, and as soon as I asked him to whoa and put his head back down he did. We did the ride in his normal D-Ring snaffle (there were 1 or 2 spots where I was wishing for the pelham just a little, but it was fine).

    He can get spunky when we are jumping, but he was REALLY spunky on the trail. He kept falling into this little "I'm the fanciest trail horse ever" slow trot, and even cantered up one of the hills. He had attitude on the trail! He'll be 17 next year, so I'm excited that I will always be able to keep him and ride him on trails if he ever stops being able to jump. He was also much more sure footed than I expected on the trails. Lucky me he has spider pads with equithane on his front feet so rocks weren't much of an issue.

    The only thing I didn't like was the potential for my CWD saddle going in the drink. I'm thinking of getting one of these Kimberly Synthetic saddles for trails. I like the price and I won't worry too much if the synthetic goes in the water!

    I don't think we will be going out by ourselves ever, but now I know I can take him out with the group and he will handle pretty much anything the trail throws at him

    So I would love to hear thoughts on that saddle and/or other equipment I might want, or other trail-riding strategies I might need to know.
    "Look, I'm trying not to test the durability of the arena with my face!" (Because only GM can do that.)

  • #2
    For a while always be sure to have a solid lead horse that will cross anything. You all ready know why (unintended swimming).

    Get a water bottle carrier (about $10). Fill the bottle about 3/4 way with water & freeze it. Right before the ride top it off with cold water. Now you'll have ice water to drink while on the trail. Breast collars are nice. You don't really need saddlebags until you start riding out for long enough to need to pack a lunch.

    You may want to pick up a cheap camera with video function (be sure it is easy to use with 1 hand). You can get some really cool photos, and it is always nice to get your riding buddies rising out of the water ;-P

    Enjoy. I spent years in the show ring, now all I do is trail ride.


    • #3
      Well, give "going out alone" a chance sometime. Going for a nice trail ride, just the two of you, can be one of the most wonderful things about having a horse (IMO). Of course, you know yourself and your horse best.

      I wouldn't worry about getting another saddle, unless you want to do your part to stimulate the economy. Saddles get wet; you oil them; they're fine. Think of all the people who ride in climates where it rains alot. Don't get me wrong -- I am happy to enable more horse-related purchases whenever possible! But, I personally wouldn't bother with a new saddle just on the off chance that your saddle might get wet during a stream crossing.

      For casual rides where you don't expect to be out for more than a couple hours, just make sure you have your cell phone attached to your body, not to your horse. Always wear your helmet! It's not a bad idea to put dog tags on your horse's saddle or bridle, in case you have an unplanned dismount and your horse goes off adventuring without you. Always tell someone where you're going and when you expect to be back.

      Have fun!


      • #4
        Yay for allowing Max to branch out! I'm absolutely convinced that horses NEED the trail riding to catch a break from their arena routine. How would you like it if the only time you got to leave your house was to go to work or school but nowhere else, ever? I know my horses enjoy going out on new trails, they look forward to it as much as I do. I wouldn't worry too much about getting a new saddle especially if the one you have fits you and your horse. Just be aware that horses, for some reason, like to roll in the water. If he stops and starts to paw at it get him moving and you should be fine.
        "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."


        • Original Poster

          Thank you all for the tips! When I know the trails a little better we might venture out alone I can always do the premium subscription on the RunKeeper app that lets people GPS track me in real time if the husband worries

          The saddle I have is custom fit to him, fits perfect, but also cost what a custom saddle cost so I was just worried about scratches and water...paranoid a little because it was so spendy. I also thought the better security with a deeper seat and maybe a horn would be nice, although Max does have a nice mane to grab which is just as handy!

          I think I'm just hacking tomorrow, so we'll go for a long walk around the property on just the flat parts to practice again.
          "Look, I'm trying not to test the durability of the arena with my face!" (Because only GM can do that.)


          • #6
            Horns are not great. On sharp uphills they will poke you in the chest & belly


            • Original Poster

              Originally posted by pnalley View Post
              Horns are not great. On sharp uphills they will poke you in the chest & belly
              Oh good point I hadn't thought of that!
              "Look, I'm trying not to test the durability of the arena with my face!" (Because only GM can do that.)


              • #8
                Horns, bad

                And if you're not used to them, when you lean over your horse's neck to dismount, your bra will get hooked on the horn and you will be left dangling your bra over the horn and the rest of you hanging off the side of your horse. Some bra straps are misguidedly strong and not "breakways!"


                • Original Poster

                  Originally posted by VictorBlue View Post
                  And if you're not used to them, when you lean over your horse's neck to dismount, your bra will get hooked on the horn and you will be left dangling your bra over the horn and the rest of you hanging off the side of your horse. Some bra straps are misguidedly strong and not "breakways!"
                  Oh geez I can totally picture that happening to me! I think no horn it will be if I get one
                  "Look, I'm trying not to test the durability of the arena with my face!" (Because only GM can do that.)


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by pnalley View Post
                    Horns are not great. On sharp uphills they will poke you in the chest & belly
                    And if you're not used to them, and not paying attention when you dismount, you hang yourself up by your bra strap. Embarrassing! Much better to snap a grab strap onto the front of your saddle dees!


                    • #11
                      Have you thought about getting a synthetic endurance type saddle? You wouldn't have to worry about the "horn hang up issues" . I personally don't have anything to hang up on a horn, so I can only imagine !! Sounds like he will be a nice trail horse, have fun!!


                      • #12
                        Sounds like Max is going to be a fun ride in the woods. Trail riding is just fantastic and I love riding in the forest. It can be peaceful and exciting all at the same time.

                        We rode in Kisatchie Forest just sw of Alexandria, LA Memorial Day weekend and came across wild horses that have been there since right after WWII!!! LOL Biscuit really got excited about that.

                        Take water as someone else said and have a good time. Some horses are easy about crossing water and others aren't. It is fun going through water and my horse, thank God, isn't spooked or afraid. I just have to make sure he doesn't lay down like he did last year before I bought him! Another person other than his owner was riding him and he plopped down 3 times in the lake so I understand what you are saying about the synthetic. I bought a Kimberly Down Under Stock "reject" saddle with a slight flaw for all of $139 that was super comfortable. I didn't want my expensive leather Aussie to get wet and at the time my former horse was anhydrodic and I would ride him into the lake and get him soaking wet!!! The water is fun so get a cheap Kimberly and enjoy!!!
                        Logging Miles with the Biscuit 530.5 Miles for 2011 visit my trail riding blog at www.dashingbigred.blogspot.com


                        • Original Poster

                          @AlfalfaGirl sounds like you got a great deal! I may have to watch for that. We did another "dry land only" ride and he was great again...only stopping and taking a step back once or twice, easily cured with a cluck and spur forward. I think he wasn't sure if he was going to have to jump those big scary rocks or just go around them

                          I think we will do another "epic group ride" Sunday, so I'll report on that!

                          Sounds like synthetic, no horn, english rigging, is best deal is the way to go!
                          "Look, I'm trying not to test the durability of the arena with my face!" (Because only GM can do that.)


                          • #14
                            Good for you and your horse. Trail riding should be good for a horse and rider - it isn't always of course. If you or the horse found trail riding crazy-stressful it would defeat the purpose I think. Regarding your saddle - I was looking at the same thing, but I was looking at the leather http://www.amazon.com/Kimberley-Econ...=2WCGYYP4D2FDU version of your saddle, but now what you said about it getting wet makes me think I should go with the synthetic version http://www.amazon.com/Down-Under-Kim...QQ/ref=lh_ni_t

                            Neither has a horn. As for the horn grabbing you by the bra - that's a real consideration. A rider at my equitation barn got hung up like that on a horn. I personally don't like them because they get in the way if you go over a jump or something.

                            Now I need to know the advantages or disadvantages of a synthetic trail saddle!

                            He is total garbage! Quick! Hide him on my trailer (Petstorejunkie).


                            • #15
                              I wouldn't bother with a cheap 'trail' saddle. If he needs a custom fit saddle for regular use, why would he not need it for trail riding where he will be on uneven footing etc.?

                              Just enjoy. You already know to keep his head up so he doesn't decide to take a cooling dip in the stream.


                              • #16
                                Just courious - What County Park? It sounds like alot of fun?


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by VictorBlue View Post
                                  And if you're not used to them, when you lean over your horse's neck to dismount, your bra will get hooked on the horn and you will be left dangling your bra over the horn and the rest of you hanging off the side of your horse. Some bra straps are misguidedly strong and not "breakways!"
                                  I can definitely attest to that! You end up looking like you just REALLY love the horse and saddle you just dismounted. You should try it on an incredibly tall horse sometime - like a draft. I highly recommend it.
                                  If wishes were horses then beggars would ride...
                                  DLA: Draft Lovers Anonymous
                                  Originally posted by talkofthetown
                                  As in, the majikal butterfly-fahting gypsy vanners.


                                  • #18
                                    Congratulations on getting out!! Ironically, I just dropped into the trail board to try & pick up tips for new riders getting out, as I'm trying to get my horse to be more trail-savvy.
                                    I agree that you probably don't need another saddle for trail riding all the time, but I will admit to pulling out my 30 year old Stubben instead of my new Pessoa if I know I'll be riding in the rain..it's just easier to clean up.
                                    I wish I were courageous enough to ride alone, as companions are hard to come by at my barn.


                                    • Original Poster

                                      Originally posted by JLC View Post
                                      Just courious - What County Park? It sounds like alot of fun?
                                      We're at Hansen Dam now - Lake View Terrace right near where the 210/118 come together. It is part of Hansen Dam Park which I think is owned by the county, and the people that run the Eq. Center have a long term lease.

                                      I know groups go north into the foothills too where there are even more trails (but that may be a long way off for us ).
                                      "Look, I'm trying not to test the durability of the arena with my face!" (Because only GM can do that.)


                                      • #20
                                        Go, Max the Trail Hunter.