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Why Do People Think Any Horse Can Be A Trail Horse?

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  • Why Do People Think Any Horse Can Be A Trail Horse?

    I am a dressage rider who also does competitive trail. Because I know alot of trail riders, I constantly get asked to help sell horses that wash out as hunter/jumper or dressage show horses. What I try to explain to these people is that a "trail" horse needs to have specific skills just as a hunter/jumper or a dressage horse. Not every horse can transition to this career. Skills that I think are necessary are the ability to stand tied,ability to handle varied terrain, bombproofness (not spooking at every leaf), a good loader in the trailer, must be able to cross water and bridges, not kick in close quarters and travel quietly in a group situation. Some of these ex-show horses cannot handle life outside the ring. Sorry to vent, it is just seems that some of the other riding disciplines don't take trail riding seriously.
  • Original Poster

    #2
    I am a dressage rider who also does competitive trail. Because I know alot of trail riders, I constantly get asked to help sell horses that wash out as hunter/jumper or dressage show horses. What I try to explain to these people is that a "trail" horse needs to have specific skills just as a hunter/jumper or a dressage horse. Not every horse can transition to this career. Skills that I think are necessary are the ability to stand tied,ability to handle varied terrain, bombproofness (not spooking at every leaf), a good loader in the trailer, must be able to cross water and bridges, not kick in close quarters and travel quietly in a group situation. Some of these ex-show horses cannot handle life outside the ring. Sorry to vent, it is just seems that some of the other riding disciplines don't take trail riding seriously.

    Comment


    • #3
      I think some people feel that a trail ride is once around the back 40. I have known horses that are not initially capable of even that but most can be brought to that point. Going further requires training and repetition, just like any other sport. Once your horse has mastered such things as Piaffe described, you can be really proud of him, just as if he mastered the skills of another sport. But I agree that alot of people talk about trail as if any horse can just have the reins dropped on his neck and go on a trail ride (can't seem to fix the English here - sorry!).

      Comment


      • #4
        You are absolutely correct, Piaffe. A lot of people don't think that trail riding is a "valid" discipline.

        I remember when Conny and I stopped showing and started trail riding exclusively. I got the smirks, the looking down the nose, the catty comments about how he obviously couldn't do anything else, so may as well make him a trail nag.

        Conny was bred for performance, and with the crowd I was in at the time, that meant SHOWING. Oh we tried it, but he absolutely hated the show ring, and although we did our share of winning it was a constant battle with him. He'd pin his ears as soon as he saw the trailer pull up, and then be a nasty, no-ears horse the whole time. Stressful and difficult for us both.

        The first time I tried trail riding, he was a completely different horse. Ears up, eyes bright, and always looking to see what was around the next bend in the road.

        He's a champ at water and bridge crossings, and we always take him out as the lead horse when we're trying a new youngster. If he does spook, it's usually in place and he'll just stand and look at the object, then blow at it. It takes a lot to make him bolt and run.

        He trusts me implicitly, which is a must in a good trail partner. We were in one situation where I had to get off and ask him to back UPHILL.

        There are many other examples of what makes him a good trail mount, but I think you get the picture. Not every horse is cut out to do trail riding; only the best!
        Homeopathy claims water can cure you since it once held medicine. That's like saying you can get sustenance from an empty plate because it once held food.

        Comment


        • #5
          Some ex-show horses can't, but a lot of them can, and seem to relish their new job. I have taken a dressage horse, a former show jumper, and a former barrel horse, all three have easily made the transition into great trail mounts. But-I take a close look at their temperament before I trust my aging body miles from home!

          On the flip side, we purchased a QH mare who was supposed to be a seasoned trail horse. Gak, worst trail ride I have ever had was on her. Tried showing her English because of her movement, she HATED that. After watching her blow easily past TB's and another QH in the pasture, and checking deeper into her bloodlines, we decided to try Barrel Racing with her. She LOVES it! And is pretty darn good at it so far, with only three real competitions under her girth. Can't wait to see how she does this season.
          Facta non verba

          Comment


          • #6
            I agree completely. "Trail Horse" in advertising tends to mean "he can't do anything else, so I guess he'll make a good trail horse."

            Regardless of whether you are competing (distance riding) or simply trail riding for pleasure, a good trail horse requires a specific disposition and set of skills just like any good show horse.

            Of course, I'm sure you've all witnessed some of the yahoos on public trails... I suppose it isn't suprising what some people think makes a good trail horse.

            Comment


            • #7
              I couldn't agree more with the OP. A solid trail horse is just as highly trained for his discipline as is a FEI level dressage horse.

              I remember many years ago at the barn where I was boarding, there was a wanna-be BNT dressage/event rider trainer. He kept carrying on how he had trained all these horses and had jumped all these cross-country fences. He then proceeded to make a snaide comment about my late paint gelding to the effect, "well, he's just a trail horse, nothing fancy to that." So, one day he wanted to go trail riding with me. I picked what I considered to be an intermediate level trail, single track, no bicycles allowed, with a few hills. Well, he made it all of about 10 minutes and his "fancy, highly trained" mount was just quaking in her shoes, dancing, jigging, and unable to keep her feet on the trail. The trainer was rather white in the face, got off, and led the horse home. Never heard another snotty word about my "POS trail horse."

              Darn, I miss my old gelding.

              Comment


              • #8
                I have nerver competed in trail or endurance, but have to agree that a good trail horse is worth it's weight in gold.

                I am actually thinking of giving up my dreams of comptetitve dressage and trade my Ansur for a Circle Y!

                Elizabeth
                Member of the OTTB Clique, Re-Riders Clique and the Thread Killer Clique.

                http://community.webshots.com/user/esimison

                Comment


                • #9
                  Dressage and endurance can go hand in hand and in fact complement one another. And I ride endurance in my Passier Baum dressage saddle - with a big sheepskin cover on it of course!

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    It's just like those folks that advertise any horse that runs off or can't be controlled as an "endurance prospect." Yeah, that's what I want - a horse that runs like a maniac for miles on end and can only be stopped when he gets tired. I have to agree that just because the horse isn't successful anywhere else doesn't automatically make it a trail prospect.
                    "Cats aren't clean; they're covered with cat spit."
                    - John S Nichols (1745-1846,writer/printer)

                    Don't come for me - I didn't send for you.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I agree it's all about training, just like anything else. My very good event horse used to be terrified of riding on trails in the woods. He hated the fact that he couldn't see 'forever'. This is a horse that gallops XC and leaps Prelim jumps like a machine! But I enjoy it so I spent years working with him with the help of friends. Now he is really fairly brave, but more for quiet rides in the woods than anything serious or with the really good trail horses. Fortunately he's always been one that if I get off he'll follow me over anything. "You first mom!"

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Um, folks there is a huge difference between a "trail horse" and a competitive athlete that can cover 30 miles at a go.

                        Yes, there are some people who just like to go take a stroll through the woods, and unless you have a psycho animal, almost all of them can do it. I would think it is more about fitness and temperment, not training.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I think top endurance horses are special and not every horse can reach that level, as in dressage or jumpers etc, it takes a combination of a variety of things to make a top endurance horse
                          but...
                          i think any horse that is trained should be able to trail ride, jump a course, do a maybe 1st or 2nd level test, maybe not brilliantly but under control
                          i don't think that's a lot to ask
                          i do agree that for some reason some people that present a horse as a trail horse mean it can't do anything else, but to me that's not a trail horse, it's a poorly trained horse
                          most conditioned horse i know who have been ridden consistently can handle 10-20 miles of trail riding, but probably not be competitive in ctr or limited endurance ride
                          most horse's can wtc, lengthen shorten stride and do half passes
                          most horse's can get over a 3 ft fence
                          i think generally it's the rider holding them back from any of this
                          A fat middle aged woman on a big headed horse.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I wouldnt consider a horse being advertised as a "trail horse" as a badly trained one. Typically I think of a horse listed as a "trail" would have limited soundness to do anything else.

                            I often sell 'trail' horses who had some soundness issue that will prevent them from jumping.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Fairweather, are you talking about horses that are only recommended for light trail riding, as opposed to endurance and competitive?

                              Since I do 25 miles and up, over some pretty rough terrain, I need a horse that's completely sound in every way regardless of whether or not I want or need him/her to jump.

                              I see a lot of ads similar to what I think you're referring to, where the horse is only recommended for light/weekend/husband type riding.
                              Homeopathy claims water can cure you since it once held medicine. That's like saying you can get sustenance from an empty plate because it once held food.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by FairWeather:
                                Um, folks there is a huge difference between a "trail horse" and a competitive athlete that can cover 30 miles at a go. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

                                I know, but I did mean just the simple little 'trail' riding. And maybe my horse is 'psycho' but it wasn't easy for him. I am considering trying a CTR of the lowest possible level but I think even that will be a huge challenge for my horse's brain and I'm reading this forum to try to learn more before I try one.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Thank you gothedistance...
                                  Fairweather - perhaps you might want to reconsider your not quite sound horses as "pleasure horses" rather than trail horses, although I understand where many will advertise a "trail horse" as one that may not be trained for arena-type competition (whether dressage, jumping, western pleasure, reining, etc.).

                                  As another thread discusses - there are trail horses that have to be completely fit, fully trained, and SOUND to do trail work - even if it IS NOT competitive.

                                  Friends and I go out with our "square-wheeled" horses (not gaited) for 3, 4, 5 hours at a time. Some walking, much trotting, and some cantering. This equates to 15 - 20 miles or more depending on speed and terrain. I prefer to NOT have to walk back ... Those who participate in the Michigan shore-to-shore scheduled rides routinely ride 25 or more miles each day - there's even a "criss-cross" where you start on one side of Michigan ride across and then return. The horses AND RIDERS have to be fit and be prepared for all sorts of strange activity and conditions. And you might be surprised to find that a large percentage are in their 40s & 50s, while many are retired and are in their 60s or later years. These riders ESPECIALLY need their horse to stay sound and take care of them the distance between camps.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Hey folks, before you try handing me my ass in a hat again, read my posts.

                                    Arabhorse--Yes, that is why I made the above post of "trail riding" versus a competitive trail/endurance horse. Sorry folks, to me a 'trail ride' is a leisurely wander thru nice scenery. Obviously a sound horse is needed in any competitive (tho not necessarily one who competes) discipline.


                                    And Gothedistance, thats funny. I've only come across a handful of horses that didnt take to trail riding like a fish to water, or with very little training. There are definately the odd few who simply dont enjoy it, but for the most part the majority of horses will adjust fine to it. Are you suggesting that I believe horses leave the ring and trail ride and act perfect the first time they do it? Sorry dear, I never said that. Trail riding takes training just like any other discipline. I dont trail ride my fresh off the track TB's by themselves the first time, and I dont expect them to cross water without a minor freak out. Does this mean they cannot learn? Not in my book, and not in my experience. The topic is "Why do people think any horse CAN BE a trail horse", not "Why do people think every horse IS a trail horse. Any horse can trail ride. And most of them can be nice trail horses with the right training.
                                    And again Captain aggressive, I didnt say UNSOUND horses. I said horses unsound to jump. Funny, My horse with an arthritic knee and fused hocks can withstand the rigors of any trail i've put him on. Would I put him in the A/O jumpers? Nope.

                                    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Kinder all around to sell your unsound horses as pasture ornaments or family pets for light riding around the barn. You do no service selling them otherwise. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>
                                    Point out to me where I say I sold unsound horses?? Cause i'm pretty darn sure I didnt. Now, read carefully dear, cause these posts can be pretty confusing.


                                    edited bc i cant spell. grr.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      what we have here is a difference of terms.

                                      Just to clarify,
                                      To me, a 'trail horse' is the same thing as a 'pleasure horse'.
                                      Backyard rides, fun walk through the woods.
                                      An endurance horse, or CTR horse, is one who i consider an 'athelete'.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        OK,

                                        A lame horse is a lame horse! Pure and Simple and not a use to anyone in any type of discipline period.

                                        Good Lord, am I hearing this stuff right? Generalizations are being made about trail riders. So, I ride 100 miles and my horse is lame, and that's ok because I compete on trail?

                                        Oh my!

                                        In the equation of competition on any trail, the first and foremost is your mounts legs! Holey Moley. Why would I spend $200 on a ride for entry, trailer there another $200 for one weekend and take a horse that is lame? AHahhahhaa

                                        Maybe I am not reading this thread correctly, but I don't think a lame horse is EVER remotely EVER acceptable for trail riding of ANY kind. Retire it to field or put it down. Why would a trail rider ever think of riding a lame horse, but a show person wouldn't?

                                        My goodness, we have this thing called vet checks and it prohibits lame horses from competing! Ohhhhhh

                                        I guess "us" silly trail ridden fools are just too stupid to understand the dat-burn horse is lame? Ahahhahaaa Hay, Arnie…it’s only got three legs.

                                        Please, I have known show people, and I have know trail competitors…two separate folks here. My experiences have shown me, that show people don’t know how to take care of their horses, trailer them, or even how to schedule vets. On the other hand, trail competitors know everything about their horses. What they like to eat, were they like to be scratched, when they don’t feel right, how to backup a trailer, and when to schedule a vet. They notice their horses. Show people pay someone else to do that, or hope they do.

                                        Generalizations are hurtful…as the one I provided above.
                                        **Founding member of the TQ (Trail Queen) \"Learn How to Ride or MOVE OVER!\" Clique** 2005 Winner of the \"Rush Limbaugh of the Trails\" Award

                                        Rope The Moon Ranch RTM Breeders of Anglo-Arabs, and Performers of

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