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How much trust do you put into your horse's decisions

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  • How much trust do you put into your horse's decisions

    So, my new gelding and I ambled out on a trail ride that was slightly hairier in terms of terrain than I think he has ever had to handle (he's been a show horse). He was very good, but as we wobbled down the trail like a drunk man, I wondered how many people trust their horse to take a path (as long as they stick to the general path) and how many try to guide the horse to better footing.

    A semi-brag though, he was great for our first solo outing. Crossed a bridge, went through some serious brush and handled a rocky trail. He did NOT however like water trickles at the bottom of a "ravine". Something to work on!

  • #2
    We warmbloods aren't dumb bloods. We won't get our owner or ourselves, ok maybe in reverse order there, into trouble. Either in the ring or on the trail.


    • Original Poster

      Well he's been a show QH, but he never lived outside. It just occurred to me as I was wobbling down the trail. Some of what he was trying to do was edge closer to the trees for a mouthful. He is *awful* about that. By the end of the ride he figured out that trotting a little up the steep grade made it easier and that rocks could be avoided, but the first few minutes of letting him figure it out were hairy!


      • #4
        My Walker, no. LOL. In normal situations, he's fine...if something gets tricky- I have to micro manage him or he will be too busy watching the horse ahead of him, or thinking about feeding time or wondering where the trailer is....or or or .......Now, my daughter's morgan- I wouldn't hesitate to tell her to throw the reins away and let him get her out of a tricky spot. It's not always trail experience that gives a horse that "smartness" either because my horse has thousands of miles of trail riding and he's still a dork ;-) he's my dork though!


        • #5
          Can't trust mine, she would stop for a snack.

          Patience and Consistency are Your Friends


          • #6
            I let my guy pick the footing most of the time. If there's something obvious (soggy ground on the edge, etc.), I'll guide him, but if he wants to meander a bit, I trust he's got a good reason.


            • #7
              I trust mine pretty completely. We have a lot of gnarly, rocky trails, with drop offs, snake possibilities, etc. In the beginning I closely monitored what he did, worrying every inch. But as I got to know him I saw how smart he was with his feet, etc. While he likes to go fast I just make sure he keeps it within reason (without a rider I'm sure he could go much faster, but I don't let him forget I'm up there!). He has also learned if I lean forward, back or sideways to avoid the encroaching poison oak or to duck for a low branch to maintain the same speed.

              Funny that you would post this today. Just last night I took my horse out and was going down a technical rocky section. I just gave him his head. When we were down through the section I thought about how cool it was that he just motored through. I'm sure your show horse will figure it out given a little time. A friend had a show Missouri Foxtrotter, who had never seen anything but a flat showring or stall. First time out that horse learned a lot about actually picking up his feet, crossing small ditches, etc. Now he is a great steady trail horse. Good luck!
              "Do your best, and leave the rest, twill all come right, some day or night" -Black Beauty



              • #8
                I've heard endurance riders say it's an equal partnership with their horses: the rider picks direction and speed, the horse picks gait and exactly where to place their feet. I like that and do try to emulate it... although "we're" sometimes distracted by the quick snack or shorter trail home...
                It's just grass and water till it hits the ground.


                • #9
                  Depends on how focused my horse is.

                  If she is being silly, and keeps staring off into the distance (checking out the deer / horses nearby etc) – I have to be more active, and tell her LOOK – GO THIS WAY - otherwise she WILL stumble right into a big hole, rock, drop a foot off a ledge etc.

                  But normally I trust her to put her feet where she needs to. The areas I ride (sometimes trails, sometimes dear trails, sometimes trail blazing) have big holes dug by coyotes, rocks, old downed fences and other hazards I do keep my eyes open for, and direct us away from.
                  APPSOLUTE CHOCKLATE - Photo by Kathy Colman


                  • #10
                    I sold a mare partially because she had no mountain sense. She fell off of a trail in the Smokies, then about a mile later, tried to again. Fresh, sound, sane, etc: sense? Nope.

                    She's what I call a Florida horse

                    Now my Chip, Toppy, or Scout? Trust them all day long.


                    • #11
                      With my endurance horse - he knows where his feet should go, and why and I trust him to know the best option to get over/around/through what I point him at. Just as he trusts me that we are going that particular route for a reason. I can't say it's even something I really think about anymore.
                      Originally posted by ExJumper
                      Sometimes I'm thrown off, sometimes I'm bucked off, sometimes I simply fall off, and sometimes I go down with the ship. All of these are valid ways to part company with your horse.


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by GotMyPony View Post
                        I've heard endurance riders say it's an equal partnership with their horses: the rider picks direction and speed, the horse picks gait and exactly where to place their feet. I like that and do try to emulate it... although "we're" sometimes distracted by the quick snack or shorter trail home...
                        This -- although with a horse green to trails or even certain types of trails, you often need to let them learn how to place their feet and move in different substrates. For example, my OTTB was excellent in sand and woods, but is still learning big, moving rocks like we find in the Appalacians. He's getting better -- he's learned he does need to pick his feet up, but he's got to figure out how to place them more carefully. I help as needed if things get out of whack -- I'd call it guided experimentation, LOL.
                        Life doesn't have perfect footing.

                        Bloggily entertain yourself with our adventures (and disasters):
                        We Are Flying Solo


                        • #13
                          I'd trust my horse with my life in a sticky situation. He has never let me down and we've had to pick our way through some pretty crazy terrain. We've ridden along mountain sides, through slick creek bottoms, ice and snow, down steep hills, etc, and he always figures out where to go.

                          One time I was attempting to cross a creek and he WOULD NOT GO. I was trying everything, and this is a horse that usually crosses water without a problem. But I couldn't understand why he wouldn't cross so I made him, and what do you know, half way across he starts slipping and sliding and barely keeps himself upright. I was so scared we weren't going to make it out without falling, but we managed to. That was the last time I tried to make him go somewhere he didn't want to go.

                          He's good about trusting me too, there are times I can tell he just doesn't want to pass something or go somewhere, but as long as he can sense I'm confident about what we're doing, he doesn't even look at it.
                          come what may

                          Rest in peace great mare, 1987-2013


                          • #14
                            Horses that have been raised out of state/been in pasture- I generally trust them to not get us killed.

                            Typical SoCal born and raised that have zero experience with anything other than the stall, arena, and path between the two until I took them on the trail for the first time- oh, hell no.
                            Last edited by gaitedincali; May. 31, 2013, 05:48 PM. Reason: no spell gud


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by GotMyPony View Post
                              I've heard endurance riders say it's an equal partnership with their horses: the rider picks direction and speed, the horse picks gait and exactly where to place their feet.
                              yes, this. The only time my guy doesn't get to pick where to go is when we're crossing water -- he likes to head for the deep stuff so he can splash. Otherwise, he's good at picking the best route.

                              Now, my previous horse had lots of trail smarts, but he was a total klutz. He once tripped over a little 6" runoff ditch in the trail and went COMPLETELY down, and I had to bail over his shoulder. So he got told where to put his feet
                              RIP Victor... I'll miss you, you big galumph.


                              • #16
                                Quite a bit --- she knows how to carry us. But, the thing that I have really learned is to pay attention if she starts doing either the fire-breathing dragon or the drama llama (head popped into stratosphere). It does seem that "snort and blow" equals "I'm airborne because I look so damn fine when I've got my Arab on," but head in the air means, "WHAT?WHEN?WHERE?WHICH?WHY?WHO? IS IT A MOUNTAIN LION? Or even worse than a mountain lion, ------ IS IT A CHRYSANTHEMUM?????!!!!!!! You have 0.0321 seconds to tell me WHAT DO I DO? Go ahead? Oh. Okay. No problem."

                                I cannot explain the chrysanthemum phobia, but, otherwise she's very trustworthy.


                                • #17
                                  I think mine aims for the worst footing, so I steer him away from the huge rocks, thick mud, or poles of branches that he prefers to walk through to the nice level path right next to it.


                                  • #18
                                    My Irish Draughts are much smarter than I am. If they are truly concerned about something, there is probably a reason for concern.


                                    • #19
                                      I trust mine with my life, and have. I rode my horse up a steep 2000 foot elevation gain trail from 11 pm to 3 am on a moonless night though the wilderness north of Yellowstone. I couldn't see my hand in front of my face for half of the ride up the switchbacks but he never took a wrong step. I can't count the times we've ridden home through the wilderness in the dark, through deep snow, jumping from rock to rock, muddy bare root tree trails, a significant bog (after which he and I really got to say I Told You So to my husband!). He tells me if there's something on the trail, be it a llama or a moose or a bear. He smells the brush and the trail like a dog and then tells me how dangerous it is-he only turns back for bears! Sometimes he'll ask my direction or confirmation-hesitate, ears back-I'll make a suggestion and he'll take it into consideration...

                                      I would like to know some day how many miles he and I have traveled through the wilderness-some of the best memories of my life were with him picking his way down the trail keeping me safe.
                                      “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” Stephen R. Covey


                                      • #20
                                        Sorry for the bump, but a spam thread with a long gibberish name is stretching out the forum index to be unreadable. Just need a different thread to be on top