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Learning to trail ride as a total newbie?

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  • #21
    Originally posted by Shermy View Post
    Lessons are good, BUT not everyone has the money or starting interest to take them.
    Very much less expensive and more pleasant than hospital bills.

    Your point is well taken, however. The thing to do these days if one is interested in horses seems to be, 'rescue' a horse, or buy one totally unsuitable, and then watch DVDs and/or RFD and read magazines to figure out how to take care of and ride said horse.

    But I still maintain if you really want to enjoy riding horses, you spend the bucks and take lessons the old fashioned way. Otherwise, you are just relying on 100% luck, 0% skill.

    Comment

    • Original Poster

      #22
      Originally posted by hosspuller View Post
      I see the problem now ... You aren't close enough to advance him beyond the head/tail trail ride. A lesson schedule may be more commitment for him than he wishes. But that's likely the only way for him to learn, unless he makes friends with someone willing to let him use their horse.
      Exactly. Plus, I don't have a horse for me yet, let alone a spare packer. (It will happen! But it just hasn't been a sensible time for me to have a horse recently.)

      I will suggest lessons with specific goals (i.e. want to be comfortable and safe at walk, trot, canter) so it feels less like a never-ending thing. Maybe there's somewhere that has trail access and offers some kind of trail rides - I think a couple of the stables around here do sometimes take the lesson horses out for a change of pace, and that would help keep things interesting too.

      (Plus, trail access would potentially mean more trail riders around in general, which would give him more chances to learn stuff outside of lessons just from helping out/chatting with people at the stable.)

      Comment


      • #23
        Originally posted by Shermy View Post
        Lessons are good, BUT not everyone has the money or starting interest to take them.

        I think putting a rider on a packer, then teaching them stuff while on the trail is fine.

        My hubby and I went trail riding yesterday. His first ride in probably a year. He rode my horse, the packer, and I gave him pointers off and on during the ride. It was an easy ride. We stayed in HIS comfort level, mostly walking, w/a bit of jogging. I gave him my saddle and adjusted everything to fit him, so he was comfortable.

        If you are trying to get someone into riding that is not horse crazy, I think it is more important to KEEP IT FUN!

        That will keep him interested and coming back. He will pick up more things w/each ride. Learning on the trail is a good thing. Lessons are usually a hour, while trail rides could be longer.

        Riding is learned a lot by time in the saddle. Going around in a circle is really boring to some people too.

        My guess is that hubby will probably go riding more often, he had a lot of fun. Was a tad sore, but after a few hours, he said he felt really good.

        BTW - Before Bacardi freaks out, YES, we both wore helmets, LOL.
        Ditto this. I think some people like to make it out to be so challenging, in order to feel more competent themselves. Yes, there are challenging trails inappropriate for rank beginners, but there are trails and horses that are perfect for them as well.

        Comment


        • #24
          Originally posted by Shermy View Post
          I think putting a rider on a packer, then teaching them stuff while on the trail is fine.
          The second half of that sentence is the key.

          Putting someone on a horse and allowing him to wander around as a passenger while thinking he's "riding" is a poor idea.

          Putting someone on a horse--in or out of the arena--and working on riding basics (steering, position, speed up/slow down, etc) is how the vast majority of people learn to ride.

          If the OP was closer, learning "dressage" basics outside the arena would be a perfectly fine way to start this new rider, and is an approach that works especially well for guys since it's more immediately practical and interesting than riding in circles. Since this is not an option, I'd really recommend finding a trainer of nearly any discipline who does a good job installing basics and who will at least take him on a short hack outside the arena for part of the lesson so he can see the utility of learning those basics. IME, too many people 'yahoo' and don't value lessons because they haven't been shown how lessons can make their trail ride better and skills can be practiced on the trail. Setting this guy up with an instructor who can and will do that is key.
          ---------------------------

          Comment


          • #25
            I agree - and I warn all our friends who come that I will be "nagging" them all day. With the kids, I give them a lecture on listening, and if they don't listen, they WILL walk back. I haven't had any problems thus far. I am blessed with lovely horses, but much of that is because of how many miles they are ridden and expected to behave safely.

            Comment


            • #26
              Are there any "public" lesson barns in the area with lesson programs that start out with beginners, without being specific to any one breed or discipline beyond riding in an "English" or "Western" saddle?

              I used to teach at one like that. . .it wasn't a "show" barn by any stretch of the imagination, but it was a good place for those people who wanted to learn more about riding and general horsemanship (grooming, handling on the ground, general safety, etc).

              They'd teach basics of riding (mounting, dismounting, steering, stopping, adjusting speed), but kept it "fun" by having ground poles and cones and little obstacles (like a mini trail course) in the arena.

              They also had a separate "arena" built on a hillside, with various obstacles, terraces, and other things so that more intermediate riders could learn in something other than a flat, open arena.

              Some of the riders went on to other barns, bought horses, and either got into competition or they decided that they just preferred a more recreational, laid back kind of riding.

              If he's interested in trail riding, he could also check into local clubs that get together for trail rides, and see if anyone there has suggestions on lesson barns.
              Please copy and paste this to your signature if you know someone, or have been affected by someone who needs a smack upside the head. Lets raise awareness.

              Comment


              • #27
                OP, I had to start just skimming some of the responses since people started attacking each other, so if you've done this, my apologies.
                You say he's not close to where you are to hunt for a barn... perhaps you could post his general location so maybe one of us just happens to know someone good to take lessons from? Dressage lessons would be awesome, but really any discipline would be fine so long as they are good with adult beginners and focus on safety and good basic skills.
                Do *you* have a decent packer that you could let him ride? If he's not so much into lessons, you could teach him the basics yourself just to get started in a ring, and continue to teach while on the trail together.

                Comment


                • #28
                  Originally posted by Bacardi1 View Post
                  No, you're definitely NOT in the minority - or shouldn't be.

                  Just "stick him on a bombproof horse & take him for a ride"??? What a ride - training him to be a rent-a-horse yahoo. You folks suggesting that should be ashamed of yourselves. Unless, of course, you're yahoos yourselves.

                  Lessons. With a HELMET. Basic lessons. The kind that can be had pretty much anywhere & everywhere, regardless of the discipline of the barn. And in this economy, most trainers are grateful for ANY type of student. He doesn't need to have any goals other than to become fit re: the muscles necessary for correct comfortable riding; balance; gee - do you kinda think steering & halting without yanking the horse's mouth/head around is kinda important? Learning how to deal with spooks, backups, etc., etc., to at least lessen the possibility of falling off & ending up in the ER? Learning how to tack, untack, the purpose of each piece of tack?

                  Don't think this stuff is important & worth learning? Then carry on. But you folks who don't think it's important certainly aren't horsemen/women.
                  There are good horsemen and horsewomen who learned to ride by ( gasp) just getting on and riding, with no lessons involved. Give the guy the option ( pros) of getting a few basic lessons if he wants, but don't force the issue of lessons or a helmet. Find him a good horse, Show him the ropes so to speak, some easy trails and take him riding.

                  When I was young lessons were not easy to find or afford for the average person. In my 20's people bought a horse and after a couple of basic lessons ( if any) they started riding on their own. If this guy is athletic at all he will pick it up fast.

                  Would he be better off with lessons first? YES. Being an adult and a man you may just kill any interest by making it an issue.

                  Comment


                  • #29
                    Originally posted by candyappy View Post
                    There are good horsemen and horsewomen who learned to ride by ( gasp) just getting on and riding, with no lessons involved. Give the guy the option ( pros) of getting a few basic lessons if he wants, but don't force the issue of lessons or a helmet. Find him a good horse, Show him the ropes so to speak, some easy trails and take him riding.

                    When I was young lessons were not easy to find or afford for the average person. In my 20's people bought a horse and after a couple of basic lessons ( if any) they started riding on their own. If this guy is athletic at all he will pick it up fast.

                    Would he be better off with lessons first? YES. Being an adult and a man you may just kill any interest by making it an issue.

                    I'm sorry, but I completely disagree.

                    You cannot learn how to properly ride by just getting on and going. What if you're unknowingly tilting to the side in the walk/trot/canter? What if you bang your horse's face posting/going up/down hills?

                    I have never heard of an accomplished, good trainer learning my just hopping on a horse and going.

                    If the excuse of "he's a man" prohibits him from taking some lessons, he has no business of being on a trail. He may be a liability to himself, his horse, and others on the trail.

                    Comment


                    • #30
                      I think the key to this is not "just getting on and going", it's making sure that the beginner has a more experienced rider with him who can inform him of any major mistakes before they become a huge problem.

                      As I mentioned earlier, I learned basic riding and horse care from my second cousin. While she was on the hunt for a suitable beginner horse for me, she let me hang around her backyard boarding barn and observe, then brush some horses and pick feet and stalls. When my horse was finally procured (word-of-mouth rehome of a nicely mannered quarter horse whose owner’s new goals were exceeding her abilities) she took me out in the pasture a few times and made sure I had the basics down. Then we went out on the trail together and she gave me pointers along the way. How to get up hills, how to stop in a hurry, how to get across creeks…. Stuff like that. I never fell off (saved that for my attempts to ride bareback) or got run away with.

                      It’s kind of funny, she was always dismissive of “show horse people”, as they were too fussy for her. She and her boarders are definitely backyard trail rider types but the horses have a nice life. So when I started getting into dressage more I think she thought I was turning into a pampered princess who only rode in the ring and that I’d be useless on the trail. She and her friends were surprised when I joined them for a long ride and had a blast and still remembered how to ride up and down hills. They were also impressed that I picked up on my loaner horse’s lameness within 3 strides (he was replaced for the ride) and that I got along fine with the little sports car of a gaited horse that I was next loaned. I was told she was “spooky” – in reality she was “forward” – I know the difference now!

                      Anyway – my point is that you can learn from a good teacher outside of a lesson situation, but lessons certainly refine and supplement your riding ability.

                      Comment

                      • Original Poster

                        #31
                        Originally posted by candyappy View Post
                        Would he be better off with lessons first? YES. Being an adult and a man you may just kill any interest by making it an issue.
                        I'd kind of have a hard time respecting anyone who didn't see the value in making sure they knew the basics for safety reasons before engaging in an activity that can be quite dangerous, to be honest. I don't care if those basics are taught in an arena or in a pasture or whatever, but "I'm a man, I don't need to learn!" would probably mean I'd try to steer said man away from horses entirely, or intentionally try to cram him into a helmet and full English gear specifically to scare him off for the sake of the poor horses who'd have to put up with him.

                        Happily in this particular case, while I do think that endless lessons would bore him senseless, he does understand that when you're doing some things, you have to do boring safety-related stuff first before you get to the fun parts. I think a beginner barn like the one mentioned that had the arena with obstacles and stuff would be perfect, but failing that somewhere that does arena lessons but also offers chances to get out on the trail might be a good solution - the trail rides will help remind him that he's doing it so he can do fun stuff safely.

                        (And he already has a helmet. Surprised the heck out of me that he went and bought one. So that's why I'm thinking he might be willing to spend some money on lessons too. I mean, his helmet is just a cheap Troxel, not one of those ridiculously expensive $200+ ones, but he has enough interest to get himself an item of basic safety gear that fits properly so he can make sure he has it if any chances to go riding come up - lessons don't seem that unreasonable a suggestion.)

                        Anyway. I may well come and ask for specific barn recommendations after I've talked to him a bit more about it and found out where he'd be most likely to have the spare time. (He travels between a couple different places for work and I'm thinking he might prefer to take lessons at one of the not-home places since he has less to do there during his down time anyway.)

                        Comment


                        • #32
                          Kudos to both you & your friend. You both sound refreshingly sensible.

                          Comment


                          • #33
                            Originally posted by cowboymom View Post
                            A five minute run down of the controls at the beginning of an easy ride on a good horse is sufficient to start for a healthy semi-athletic guy. Once you get going there will be plenty of time to talk and demonstrate as you go down the trail. If you want a guy to continue to be interested in riding I'd preserve his safety and pride as much as possible.
                            totally agree Cowboy Mom!! We go over the basics, put people on one of our good citizens, have them ride up and down the drive way to get comfortable, and down the (easy) trail we go! As you say, can chat on the trail about details, safety and riding, but meanwhile they ENJOY it. If they get really interested, sure, lessons are great, as it suits their interest, totally recommend lessons. But most friends want to see the gorgeous scenery, ride a nice horse, and enjoy time with friends. I watch the Native boys in the Indian relays-no saddle, no helmet, BEAUTIFUL riders. They do not learn in special arenas with helmets-they learn on their family ranches and riding the rez! They would be highly amused to know they are considered "yahoos" and not "real" horsemen!

                            Comment


                            • #34
                              Originally posted by kdow View Post
                              I'd kind of have a hard time respecting anyone who didn't see the value in making sure they knew the basics for safety reasons before engaging in an activity that can be quite dangerous, to be honest. I don't care if those basics are taught in an arena or in a pasture or whatever, but "I'm a man, I don't need to learn!" would probably mean I'd try to steer said man away from horses entirely...
                              COMPLETELY agree with not allowing someone, male or female, near my horses if they did not listen. I'm the boss and if they don't like it they can ride with someone else!

                              Comment


                              • #35
                                I offer to take almost anyone on a trail ride. I enjoy teaching people to be more confident or about riding.

                                I am lucky cuz I have a horse that will take care of his rider. Anyone can ride him. I totally trust him. He got that way because I put a LOT of miles on him.

                                I have several other boarders horses that I have permission to ride.

                                If I am taking a newbie, we go over the basics before we actual hit the trail, like stopping, steering, keeping hands low, etc. Maybe takes 5 mins, just until the person is comfortable.

                                During the ride, I offer help, but again, I keep it fun.

                                If you have a newbie, and just bark orders at them, you may lose them if they are not horse crazy. Horse riding is fun, and the world would be a much better place if more people got out in nature while on a horse.

                                I have yet to have ANY issues. I always have good rides. People enjoy themselves. I always encourage lessons or getting more involved w/horses.

                                There is a lot of people that just want to learn a bit to go out for a trail ride.

                                They are not interested in doing lessons. I think that is ok too. It is their choice.

                                I still think you can learn a lot by just being in the saddle. Most are interested and ask questions, so they do learn even though not in an actual lesson.

                                We ride in helmets, mostly cuz I tend to get most of the cobwebs, so easier to take them w/the top of my helmet instead of my face.

                                I keep the people safe, again, I have a very solid horse.

                                Would I take out a newbie on a green horse, H*LL NO, but that is not my situation.

                                I just dont think it is so black and white. A LOT of people learn to ride w/out formal lessons, so nope, I am not ashamed of my opinion.

                                If I made my hubby take a lesson before he went on the trail, we would have missed out on a very nice ride this weekend. He works a LOT of hours, has very little free time. Taking a riding lesson is not high on his list for his precious free time.

                                http://i3.photobucket.com/albums/y66...awsonAug12.png

                                We did ride w/helmets, but took them off once back at camp, before this picture was taken. It had been a year since hubby went riding, so I wanted a good picture as proof it HAPPENED, lol.
                                Riding is NOT meant as an inside sport, GET out of that arena!!!

                                Comment


                                • #36
                                  Trail lessons

                                  Do you have any cross country trainers in your area? What about a Hunt Club? I would suggest finding a trainer from one of these sources. They know how to ride trails and how to teach the discipline.

                                  They may want to do some arena lessons for the basics, but then they will actually go out on the trials for the lessons - with specific instructions on how to handle what you come across. "Real world" instruction for what you want to do, on a safe, sane, exprienced trail horse. Things like how to go up and down hills, across water, over bridges and other obsticles. I like the suggestion someone gave of arena lessons with obsticles - like an obsticle course or trail class.

                                  Lessons should be fun, and "fun" is doing the discipline you want to ride. Dressage lessons for someone who isn't interested in that discipline can be boring, and some dressage instructors could take a year on the "basics" before letting you out of the arena. Will you stick around for a year of lessons before you go out on the trails????? or will you give up and find another sport to become involved in? 4wheelers can go out on the trails too....

                                  Basics are important, but define "basics" for a trail rider, and go from there. You don't have to be "show ring perfect" to ride trails. Nor do you have to be "training level" to get out and have fun on trails. And the basics for trail riding are different than "arena" disciplines. Concentrate on what you need to know for how you will be riding.

                                  Make a balance between arena lessons and trail lessons so you keep the interest alive, have fun, and enjoy the ride!

                                  Comment


                                  • #37
                                    Originally posted by kdow View Post
                                    I'd kind of have a hard time respecting anyone who didn't see the value in making sure they knew the basics for safety reasons before engaging in an activity that can be quite dangerous, to be honest. I don't care if those basics are taught in an arena or in a pasture or whatever, but "I'm a man, I don't need to learn!" would probably mean I'd try to steer said man away from horses entirely, or intentionally try to cram him into a helmet and full English gear specifically to scare him off for the sake of the poor horses who'd have to put up with him.

                                    Happily in this particular case, while I do think that endless lessons would bore him senseless, he does understand that when you're doing some things, you have to do boring safety-related stuff first before you get to the fun parts. I think a beginner barn like the one mentioned that had the arena with obstacles and stuff would be perfect, but failing that somewhere that does arena lessons but also offers chances to get out on the trail might be a good solution - the trail rides will help remind him that he's doing it so he can do fun stuff safely.

                                    (And he already has a helmet. Surprised the heck out of me that he went and bought one. So that's why I'm thinking he might be willing to spend some money on lessons too. I mean, his helmet is just a cheap Troxel, not one of those ridiculously expensive $200+ ones, but he has enough interest to get himself an item of basic safety gear that fits properly so he can make sure he has it if any chances to go riding come up - lessons don't seem that unreasonable a suggestion.)

                                    Anyway. I may well come and ask for specific barn recommendations after I've talked to him a bit more about it and found out where he'd be most likely to have the spare time. (He travels between a couple different places for work and I'm thinking he might prefer to take lessons at one of the not-home places since he has less to do there during his down time anyway.)

                                    I was meaning that men think a whole different way about things and to put him in beginner lessons with a group of kids and women ( which might happen) might be something many men would shy away from. The basics can be taught by you when you ride together or someone else he is riding with, is what I was meaning, not that he was not wanting to learn at all. Sounds like things will work out fine.

                                    Arab_Mare-- I have to disagree with you. I have known many who learned to ride w/o lessons. They have good seats and soft , quiet hands. I have seen many pictures here of people riding and sitting way off to the side and these are under instruction of a trainer ( by their own admission). Lessons don't guarantee you will develop these skills. Lessons are helpful to many to bring out the best of what they have.

                                    Comment


                                    • #38
                                      Yes, there ARE trail riding lessons.

                                      The format at our farm has *lessons* divided in half ...
                                      skills portion first in the ring -- then applied on the trail.

                                      As the skills advance, the trails advance.

                                      Its really not all that hard, safety for horse and rider, skill sets, then skill sets applied.

                                      They always come back for more. !!

                                      and Yes........ to your question about volunteers at endurances and competitives... with open arms volunteers are welcomed. Newbies are encouraged and will be paired with someone experienced, its fun! volunteers are well fed, and praised for their time and efforts... all part of the fun!

                                      If your friend thought Tevis was (um, interesting) have him look over the Old Dominion schedule! ok, just skip to the pictures then.
                                      http://olddominionrides.org/
                                      IN GOD WE TRUST
                                      OTTB's ready to show/event/jumpers. Track ponies for perfect trail partners.
                                      http://www.horseville.com/php/search...=1&ssid=057680

                                      Comment


                                      • #39
                                        While I agree with lessons, I am not sure why most seem to think that to be a lesson it has to be in the ring??? I have taught many trail lessons to riders ranging from complete beginners to advanced.
                                        If you have a horse that is willing, safe and able- I'd head out on the trail and do your "lessons" there.
                                        I'm good at being uncomfortable so I can't stop changing all the time -Fiona Apple, Extraordinary Machine
                                        If I were your appendages, I'd hold open your eyes so you would see- Incubus

                                        Comment

                                        • Original Poster

                                          #40
                                          Originally posted by brightskyfarm View Post
                                          Yes, there ARE trail riding lessons.

                                          The format at our farm has *lessons* divided in half ...
                                          skills portion first in the ring -- then applied on the trail.

                                          As the skills advance, the trails advance.

                                          Its really not all that hard, safety for horse and rider, skill sets, then skill sets applied.

                                          They always come back for more. !!

                                          and Yes........ to your question about volunteers at endurances and competitives... with open arms volunteers are welcomed. Newbies are encouraged and will be paired with someone experienced, its fun! volunteers are well fed, and praised for their time and efforts... all part of the fun!

                                          If your friend thought Tevis was (um, interesting) have him look over the Old Dominion schedule! ok, just skip to the pictures then.
                                          http://olddominionrides.org/
                                          That sounds absolutely awesome. Heck, I'd take those lessons, probably.

                                          I'll suggest he look around for volunteer opportunities, too. He's a talker so he'd probably end up learning quite a lot that way even without riding. (I mean, he'd be a good volunteer too, he's just one of those folks who can talk to ANYONE.) Plus I think it might help him get/stay interested when he doesn't have time to actually commit to lessons. (Sometimes it's easier just to volunteer a weekend here and there than add a regular thing to your schedule, you know?)

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