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Hypothetically, If A Person...

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  • Hypothetically, If A Person...

    ...who had spent the past 15 years doing hunting, jumping, and dressage was to find themself suddenly interested in trail riding, where might said person find vendors of tack and associated equipment? All the catalogs piled throughout said person's house (thank heavens for said person having a supportive, understanding spouse) are hunter/jumper/dressage. Also, what magazines are available?

    Because of aging joints, the aformentioned disciplines are not as friendly to da ol' bod as they once were, and several friends who know friends who trail ride suggested that it might be a way to continue my love affair with horses from the back of a horse. I've looked at driving, but (call me a pervert if you wish) I really like the feel of a horse between my legs rather than a bouncing seat. If that was what turned me on, I'd get a Harley-Davidson. But then I'd have to clean oil off the driveway. Besides, if things do go drastically wrong it's a lot easier to bail off a horse's back than out of a cart! I've done both, but that's another story.

    Competition at this point is not being considered (but at the same time, not being ruled out -- you know how these things go). I wish for casual rides, away from the familiar confines of jump ring and dressage arena. A Western saddle makes sense (I once had QHs and rode stock seat), but the few trail saddles I've seen look very comfortable, more practical for my purposes, and a heckuva lot lighter (the ol' bod, you know).

    My first criteria for selecting a new horse will be (naturally) that I can get on without using a mounting block. What type of 'drop' stirrups are available so I don't have to ride a 13-hand pony?

    I'm going to be lurking around the E/TR forum gleaning pertinent information as it comes available, but getting catalogs into the mail will greatly speed the process.

    FWIW I've ridden in a Wintec Pro Dressage for eight years, and love it. How are their trail/endurance saddles?

    Thanking you in advance for your help.
    Last edited by Frank B; Dec. 22, 2006, 08:51 PM.
    The inherent vice of Capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings. The inherent virtue of Socialism is the equal sharing of miseries.
    Winston Churchill

  • #2

    Hi Frank,
    I retired my TB a couple of years ago and wandered into trail riding. I wanted to enjoy the company of a horse and venture out of the arena. I wanted out of competition. This does not mean that trail riding is not exciting. There are so many beautiful trails to ride. First off, you do not need to spend a lot of money for tack and horse unless you . A good trail horse is worth his/her weight in gold. If you are not interested in training a greenie, look for a sturdy healthy horse, smart, calm temperment (still should have some get up and go) that is good outside of the arena. As far as tack, a lot of people love dressage saddles. I use both. I used a western saddle at first, I loved having the horn to hang onto when I first ventured out of the ring, but missed the feel of the horse that you have with an english so I use my wintec pro dressage to trail ride in. The important thing is to find a horse that you can establish a trusting relationship with. You might want to look for a gaited horse. My Flower is a saddlebred/paint/draft/etc cross that is gaited. She is very comfortable to ride (as I have past the 50 year old mark and my body doesn't sit trot or bounce as well as I used to). The competetors on this board (Competetive and Endurance) can give you more info on catalogues, vendors, etc. Also, there is a portable mounting block that you can get to help you mount. I just ordered it (I believe it was recommended on this board) cause one of my knees don't bend very well and I cannot mount from the ground.

    I just wanted to encourage your interest.
    Keep in touch
    Last edited by sigried; Dec. 22, 2006, 11:10 PM.


    • #3

      Ditto the above.

      For catalogs go to www.endurance.net and use the vendor links to order catalogs. One of them has those drop stirrups. I got one but it seemed more trouble than finding a high spot/log/rock to use for mounting.

      Magazines? The one I get is Ride, the publication of AERC (www.aerc.org). Trailblazer I have gotten but at the time not too reliable in terms of delivery so I did not renew it. There are articles in lots of magazines of course.

      I am about to get a Wintec Pro dressage saddle for endurance - currently use a Passier Baum dressage one. I like the weight of the Wintec and how easy cleaning it appears to be.

      Have fun reading but most of all riding! If you have a nice enough horse and place to ride him or her, you will be out there as much as possible. Trail riding is good for the joints but incredible for the mind.


      • Original Poster

        First of all, thanks y'all for your kind help!

        I didn't mean to disparage driving. Heck, I only got on Social Security and Medicare last year, and I'm saving driving for when I get old.

        Right now I'm looking for a very comfortable saddle that has lots of 'sticky' (think Velcro-butt here) and is easy to hoist onto the back of whatever horse I chose. I'm firmly convinced of the advantages of the synthetics.

        I'm planning on taking my time choosing a horse (although a cute little 14.2 QH mare walked up and kissed me on the cheek yesterday). But not too much time -- when one begins to approach old age, ond tends to realize that they're tearing off the pages of the last few months of life's calendar. Maybe Aunt Esther can help me here!

        I think a good, calm horse and comfortable tack will allow me to enjoy the great outdoors. Heck, I may even try Cowboy Shooting! They have monthly meets around here, and I have an old Ruger Blackhawk...
        The inherent vice of Capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings. The inherent virtue of Socialism is the equal sharing of miseries.
        Winston Churchill


        • #5
          Another place that has interesting trail/endurance stuff is National Bridle. Mostly geared toward TWH. You can also find your "field trials" equipment there if you're serious about breaking out that Luger.

          I find myself rather intrigued by this saddle - nearly bought it to get myself back riding after breaking 2 vertebrae, but lost my nerve b/c I thought at that price it couldn't be very good or comfy. Found out later that in fact it's made by Lovatt & Ricketts from the UK so it may not be that bad!
          "The standard you walk by is the standard you accept."--Lt. Gen. David Morrison, Austalian Army Chief


          • #6
            Dear friend, Frank ...

            All I can say is that if you still have my email address, please drop me a line as you begin this adventure.

            Heck, we've got a gang planning a girls' weekend in your neck of the woods for spring, and with all those women -- all with opinions, all confirmed distance/trail riders -- we will probably not only have a half dozen different saddles for you to try, but can probably haul along a spare horse so you can join us for a ride.

            While I've been a confirmed dressage saddle rider over the years, I must confess a deep affinity for my Bob Marshall Sports Saddle, which is not only most like a couch of any saddle I've ridden in, but also extremely light, and very secure when Ned (you remember Ned, right?) pulls some of his antics.

            Take care and look forward to catching up.

            --Patti from the USDF Days


            • #7
              I predict a TWH and a Tucker in your future. My SO's Tucker River Plantation saddle is the most comfy thing I've ever sat my tush in. Fabu. Loverly. Grand. 4 stars.

              Trail Rider magazine is good, you may enjoy it, and it has tons of advertisers that carry trail riding sorts of Shtuff.


              • #8
                Trail riding is the best.

                I have a 13.3 Icelandic (I'm 5'9") who is the barn's Secret Weapon for dressage (bwahaha) but has that extra gear of gaitedness (tölt) for when I don't want to deal with his big-moving trot. He's as sure-footed as they come, brave, sensible, and can go through, over (has the neatest jump), or under anything we've ever encounteredon the trail. Could *not* ask for a better trail horse. He's also foxhunted and done hunter paces.

                Maybe look into some of the gaited breeds. Gait naturally. Enjoy!

                As for tack, I ride in a Stübben Scout, which is a VSD (more dressage-y but with a more forward flap) with extra rings for gear. Super comfy, yet still presentable for non-trail activities. I also have a German-made Goertz saddle that has just the right size blocks and a padded, quilted seat, and is amazingly comfy. If I'm riding out for a long ride and need to use my old Siegfried, I'll use a sheepskin seat cover. I'll usually add a breastplate so I can keep the girth (string with elastic at both ends--fabulous!) a little looser. And Saddle Bums endurance racing tights make every long ride more comfy (padded, saddle-friendly crotch).

                I use a biothane halter bridle from Horses Dacor for most everything now (save good leather one for "dress-up occasions). It's swell because it's really easy to pop the bit out and let him graze on the trail during breaks (and the whole thing just gets dunked in a bucket or run through the dishwasher to be cleaned). I use leather reins, though, because I want them to break if anything happens.


                • #9
                  Oh! And the endurance stirrups or the hinged Herm Sprenger or MDC Ultimates(!) are a joy and a totally essential piece of kit in my book.

                  You might need different footwear than you're used to--I want somehting that I can walk a long distance or climb in if I have to (haven't had to yet, but be prepared), and I need something with a stiffer sole and/or with a Dr. Scholl's gel insole than I need for ringwork.

                  Trail Rider magazine was ok (I didn't care for all the space devoted to the travel destinations stuff, but liked the practical stuff). I think there is another (Trail Blazer?) that seemed similar.


                  • Original Poster

                    ...and more thanks for even more support & info, everyone! I'm madly taking notes.

                    Patti, I have a new e-mail address, and believe it or not haven't gotten the first piece of spam yet! Please go to www.qrz.com and in the upper left is a rectangle called "callsign lookup". Enter W4HAY, and when my page opens, click on "show e-mail address". It will appear in raster form that spam-bots can't read. Please use it to drop me a line so we can start communicating again. I'm also trying to get hold of Boogerchic, since she's ridden Normie.

                    An old friend has contacted me and offered to teach me about trail riding on her retired trail horse. That's a honor that brings tears to one's eyes! She also says she's going to try to brainwash me about Haflingers!

                    The Icelandics sound interesting, also.

                    About stirrups: I've seen a stirrup that extends down several inches, and then can be retracted by lifting it with the foot. Who makes these, and are they any good?

                    What about rubber-covered XC reins? I think I have a pair hanging around here somewhere.

                    Footwear: Shortly before I lost Normie, I ordered Ariat Cobalt Performers on advice of both BOs. They use them daily, say they are very comfortable, and last about a year under very hard use. They said 3-4 years ago Ariat had quality problems, but apparently got them ironed out. What are your opinions and recommendations in case my future horse throws a shoe? The ones I ordered haven't arrived yet and I could claim they "don't fit" I have a 5-yr-old pair of their old "pro" series that have always been comfortable, although I certainly would not want to walk several miles in them.

                    I didn't realize how different trail riding is from the 'ring' disciplines. Y'all are certainly being helpful!
                    The inherent vice of Capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings. The inherent virtue of Socialism is the equal sharing of miseries.
                    Winston Churchill


                    • #11
                      When I was riding the Percherons (who were not the best critters to be maneuvering over to stumps and such because they couldn't necessarily fit *under* whatever else was nearby) on the trail, I would just super-lengthen my mounting-side leather, and then put it back on the hole it belonged when I was back in the saddle.


                      • #12
                        Personally, I love Blundstones with a gel insert. They really work for me and last years and years and years).

                        Some folks really like the Ariat Terrains, and I do have a pair of the Ariat Dumas for ungodly hot weather, but they don't work (the women's 10 is a little small, the 11 gigantic, and they don't make a 10.5).

                        If you get the endurance stirrups with the cage front, you don't need to worry about having a proper heel, so could get any stiff (if you like), supportive non-equine-specific hiking boot/shoe.


                        • #13
                          As everyone knows, I love the Bob Marshall Treeless saddles.. I've never rode in anything so comfortable and my pony loves it too.

                          I know there are several Endurance/Trail Magazines you could subscribe to also. And there are lots of websites for trail riding equipment.

                          Finally moved to a new barn with miles of trails and honestly I trail ride 5 days a week... I can't get enough of it...

                          Good luck on your new adventure!
                          MnToBe Twinkle Star: "Twinkie"

                          Proud member of the "Don't rush to kill wildlife" clique!


                          • #14
                            Hi Frank! Good to see you over here (I'm NB from BB).

                            I'm another who does only trail riding these days. And some dressage touch-up training for fun in the open fields. My back, knees, and hips can manage trails pretty well.

                            I find it fun and a challenge to train my horses to go in different areas, and meet different obstacles. Anything I can think of. Crossing roads, RR tracks, any water. Or facing dogs, trucks 4-wheelers & llamas. A carrot is a great reward for bravery.
                            I teach my guys to mount from any side and any thing, and to "step closer", if needed. I often use the trunk of my old car as a mounting block. In a pinch, I can stand a horse in an empty ditch or downhill to mount. This works well with the 15hh horse, but not the 16.2+hh one.

                            We can open and close gates, retrieve things from low tree branches, mailboxes. Pony other horses, walk dogs and once, herd some geese.

                            I alternate ridng in an ancient Parcival dressage and a synthetic western (Abetta for one, Fabtron for the other). I love the treeless Bob Marshall Sport Saddles are, BUT If you have a very wide horse, it might be hard on your hips if you get one with stirrups rigged to hang back in the endurance position.

                            Only thing I've yet to do with my guys is swim one across water. Maybe next summer

                            You will have a blast!


                            • #15
                              As you may not recall, Frank ...

                              ... I am vertically challenged. Yes, tragic but true. :-P

                              In any case, rather than finding a contraption to help you mount (Ned is 16+ hands), find a horse who can (or teach your new horse to) stand next to stumps, rocks, in ditchs, alongside guardrails, etc., so you can use them as a mounting block.

                              I've become adept at holding my bladder until I find the perfect remounting place on trail, and unless you're somewhere without rocks and trees and ditches, you'll always be able to get back on.

                              It took me several lessons and lots of peppermints but Ned will stand pretty much anywhere to be mounted.

                              Regarding a lost shoe, when you find your horse and saddle, you'll probably also want to look into a pommel or cantle pack from Sportack. They have attachable, non-flopping bags that will accommodate an easy boot, or they even have separate little fleece-backed drawstring bags that can go front or aft on a d-ring to stuff a boot or two into.

                              Keep us posted as you progress.

                              Drop me a line at allegany suar at earthlink dot net and we'll catch up.



                              • #16
                                DQ turned Trail Queen...

                                Hi Frank, I have been a DQ for many years. Last year at the age of 49 I went through my "Midlife crisis" and purchased a western saddle. I now ride my FEI dutch warmblood in western tack and trail ride her. I'm having the time of my life just enjoying the company of my wonderful horse and a few good friends. We even camped at Gettysburg and rode the battlefield last year. I found that my dressage background and my horse's dressage training made it an easy transition. I now subscribe to Dressage Today AND Western Horseman and but Trail Rider magazine in the stores. I look at the ads in them and send for catalogs, explore websites etc. for equiptment etc. I now am the proud owner of buckskin chinks, several cowboy hats, etc.

                                I'm having a ball. My horse had a suspensory injury several years ago and circles and lateral work seem to tweak it. I had to find another way to enjoy my horse as I love her and won't give her up. When one door closes, another one opens...My mare is currently in foal to a top dressage stallion, so dressage will reappear in my future. For now, I'm enjoying trail riding my wonderful mare. After she foals, I will have my future dressage prospect, but will continue to trail ride. At this point I'm not ready to give up my Grand Prix dream, but I am looking forward to trail riding for many, many years in the future! Good Luck and Happy Trails! Maude


                                • #17
                                  Maude --
                                  I am also thinking of making the switch to trail riding with my 16.3 WB, former dressage horse -- who had a suspensory tear. I am so encourged to read that you have already done this, and that you found the transition "easy." My boy is a real dreamboat to ride, but I have wondered about his size (seems really tall from the ground) and whether he would settle down enough for trails. He is done with dressage, so I am also looking for something that we can do together.


                                  • #18
                                    I love it!

                                    All these other "dressage-horse-turned-trail-companion".

                                    A dressage-trained horse makes the very best trail horse. Whenever I go out with others, I find my horse is the one who:

                                    Stands still for mounting.
                                    Halts AND stands still when asked.
                                    Will collect or lengthen when asked.
                                    Will half-pass to one side of trail as needed.
                                    Is willing to be lead, middle or tail horse ~ where ever I want to place him.
                                    Will rein-back OUT of the trappy mud I just inadvertantly walked him into.
                                    Will bend around that fallen tree in a tight spot on the trail.

                                    AND does all this with a normal head set - No worries that he'll step on his chin Not to mention that his gaits don't resemble my grandmother using her walker.

                                    Hey, dressage is FOR making the pefect trail horse, IMHO.


                                    • #19
                                      VERY encouraging! Thanks! Eli is getting quite an education out here on the farm and is becoming a bit unflappable (well, not unflappable, but in comparison to his former self -- not very flappable!).

                                      And, his trot is the smoothest thing I have ever ridden. So I think we should have some fun together on the trails!


                                      • #20
                                        I had my ASB in training for show for over 7 months. Many people told me that the transition would be nearly impossible. Because I didn't want to take the chance on ruining any possibility of him making a decent trail horse (he is my baby), I took him to a trainer that specializes in trail riding (and reining). I told her to bushwack him in everything thru everything etc. He is by far the best trail horse I've ever had. He'll do anything I ask and is afraid of nothing. The $500 I spent for that training was worth more than the thousands I spent for the show ring.