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Organized trail rides

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  • Organized trail rides

    I am not much of a join a trail ride person. I trail ride with friends regularly, but the "big rides" I usually pass on. #1 I despise the beer wagon ride an hour drink 2 hours policy. #2 I like to go where I want when I want. #3 Most importantly I like to decide what trails are best and safest for my horse(s).

    Saying this there is a big ride this coming weekend that the saddle club I belong to is hosting. Because the trail riders work the shows they want us show riders to "wrangle" on horseback. Fair is fair. They set the trails and we go along. Usually I bow out and do something else for the ride - but this year the non riding spouses have that all covered - so here I am.

    I am concerned about the trail it's self. I keep hearing about how steep it is and how horses slip on the "big hill" especially at the end of the line when the ground is worked up and all. I am concerned because my horse is ginormous and I need a mounting block to get on him. I am concerned because he is a pricey hot house flower hoof wise and I am worried he'll throw a shoe - just because he can.

    And I admit I am just not much fun when It comes to drunkenness on horse back - I am intolerant to it. And it happens every time I go to one of these rides someone has to be the jacka$$ drunk on horseback - of course I feel compelled to be holier than thou about it and address the issue to the idiots face - which makes me no fun I guess.

    So I have to go. I do not want to go. I do not want my horse injured.

    Am I over thinking this? What would you do? I am just far less than thrilled over it.



    "If you don't know where you are going, any road will take you there"

  • #2
    If you are at all concerned about it, don't go. Riding is supposed to be fun. If it were me, I'd just say I'm afraid that trail isn't suitable for my horse right now.

    I'm President of my Back Country Horsemen chapter and we do monthly trail rides- sometimes a second in the month too- and we want people to enjoy them and so give VERY detailed info on what might be expected on a particular trail- need shoes or boots or barefoot is ok, lots of steeps, we advise on how fit the horse needs to be, etc. AND how many hours we will be out. Because not only to we want it to be safe and enjoyable for everyone- you don't want a beginner rider on an unfit horse laboring after a couple of hours and have to deal with that in a remote location.

    Other riders in my group host various rides, and one in particular I have always skipped, because it contains a section of about 60 yards, I hear tell, of 3 foot trail with sheer vertical dropoff to your right. Not for me. People accuse me of not being macho enough but I do not care! What might be okay for 2-3 riders can get ugly if you have 10 or more riders and pick a spot like that for a horse to kick, or spook and have an accordion effect, etc. Not to mention the 'what if' someone is coming the other way! Mind you, I hunt and trail ride in pretty hairy terrain fairly often- but that one is beyond my comfort zone, so nope.

    Trail riding is a bit like skiing- don't let someone or a group talk you into something that in your initial reaction you aren't comfy with. A horse wreck or a blown knee on a too difficult trail just ain't worth it.

    We don't have the drink and ride issue in our group, given the predominant culture here in Utah. Those who want a cold one will typically pop one when we get back to the trailers.


    • #3
      I haven't been in this exact situation, but it sounds like you know very well you should go with your gut. It sounds like between the terrain and the style of the ride it is not a good match for you and your horse. It should be enough to say your horse is hard to keep shod and you don't want to work him on that kind of terrain, or simply call in sick, if people are pressuring you to participate.


      • #4
        It's supposed to be fun.

        If you're concerned even a LITTLE about the safety of you or your horse, I'd be disappointed in you as a horseman if you decided to go ahead and do it. And anyone who would ask you to in spite of your concerns isn't a horseman either.

        If you're required to "work" this ride then I'd approach management with: "My horse isn't ready for a ride like this. You can provide me with a solid trail horse and I can ride it or I can work on the ground somewhere."
        A good horseman doesn't have to tell anyone...the horse already knows.

        Might be a reason, never an excuse...


        • Original Poster

          Thank you for the excellent responses. My gut says leave my horse home. I ride him hard up hill and down dale in my neck of the woods - for Illinois - the terrain is amazingly complex and difficult. He is fit and ready. However I can not get my head around the excessive drinking and the amusement some of the riders get at misfortunes on these rides. If I were to get to a part that I consider impassible for my horse I would be made fun of and peer pressured to "cowboy up". Which would not change my mind but it would piss me off.

          So next weekend - we'll pass. I have so much love time money and effort invested in my guy to risk it on stupidity.

          Thanks - you all are the BEST!
          "If you don't know where you are going, any road will take you there"


          • #6
            I think you're right. Choose your trail riding buddies very carefully. I belong to a couple of riding clubs, and there are some rides I'll go on and others I avoid like the plague.

            It's supposed to be fun, right? Listen to your gut feeling every time.


            • #7
              I wouldn't go, either, and I'd tell them exactly why. I was lucky enough to be born Southern, of Scots/Irish extraction, and Episcopalian into the bargain. Suffice it to say I am not afraid of a buzz. But around horses? Nope. Because, as you say, people do stupid crap and get their horses hurt. Plus I think it shows a certain lack of respect for the animal.

              You can't be the only one who feels this way. Or, maybe you are, and the other people who feel this way joined another group to get away from the drunks. If you tell your group how you feel they may tell you to go ride with the teetotalers, or they may boot out the drunks, and either way everybody will be happy.

              Oh, and I don't do trails that my horse isn't up for, either. Yeah, I know - I used to get teased a lot, too. But I recently found out my horse has a health condition that could've made some of those things (I was teased for not doing) dangerous to him. I knew that - I just didn't know I knew it. Go with your gut feelings and you won't be sorry.
              I'm not ignoring the rules. I'm interpreting the rules. Tamal, The Great British Baking Show


              • #8
                There was a thread a few months back about getting buzzed while riding, several of us old fogeys got trashed for putting in our two cents worth about how its dangerous and foolhardy and not that much fun to do the alcohol thing around equines. It has never made sense to me.

                The local saddle club where I live that goes on big rides several times a year is ALL about the beer. I would love to see their trails and make some new riding buddies but its not worth it. My mare used to belong to a shining star in this organization and you could sure as hell tell when I got her that she was AHOA (adult horse of an alcoholic.) She HAD to be in charge, because her previous rider was in no condition to make executive decisions.

                NOT a teetotaller--I do my drinking AFTER the horse is put up. With advancing decripitude, a single beer'll do me most days.


                • #9
                  I wonder what the club's insurance thinks about drinking and riding? The club that I used to work with had a no-alcohol policy for ALL club activities, because it made our insurance company MUCH happier. (And happy insurance companies are cheaper insurance companies! ) That's not to say people didn't get together for drinks AFTER a ride or show, of course!!

                  I'm with jeano - and I'm not an old fogey! I don't have a problem with having *a* beer and riding (just like you can have *a* beer and drive - though I'll always vote in favor of the driver who hasn't had anything to drink, if that's an option!), but more than that and it's just foolish. It's also dangerous to you, your horse, and those around you. I would absolutely forgo a ride where I knew people were going to be, um, less than sober.

                  I think that refusing to ride, but offering to do anything else that needs doing (especially if you know something in specific: "I'm not comfortable taking Joe on this trail, but I'd be happy to set up the potluck!") totally fulfills your obligation to the club. And I say this as someone who ran shows for a club, and did the whole desperate-for-help thing for several years - I wouldn't ever hold it against someone that they weren't comfortable doing a particular job. What's important is that someone is ready, willing, and able to help at all!
                  Proud member of the EDRF


                  • Original Poster

                    Originally posted by pAin't_Misbehavin' View Post
                    I was lucky enough to be born ... of Scots/ ... extraction, and Episcopalian into the bargain. Suffice it to say I am not afraid of a buzz. But around horses? Nope. Because, as you say, people do stupid crap and get their horses hurt. Plus I think it shows a certain lack of respect for the animal.

                    Hahahaha We are very similar in our heritage and faith. And I am not opposed to a drink. Just not excessive when horses are involved.
                    "If you don't know where you are going, any road will take you there"


                    • #11
                      I agree that it sounds like you just shouldn't go, both for your own peace of mind and for your horse. But if you're stuck and have to go -- try to hook up with one or two like minded people that you can pull away with if you don't like the trail, the riders, or what's going on. My hubby and I ride in group rides all the time (though the ones we ride in don't seem to have near the alcohol levels that your group will have!), and we have the attitude that if they're going to fast or slow, or we don't feel comfortable with things, we'll just break off and do our own thing. Just be sure you have your own trail map if you're unfamiliar with the trails.
                      "Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall." - Confucious
                      <>< I.I.


                      • #12
                        I love beer, but I don't think beer and riding are a good mix. Good for you about going with your gut. You'd never forgive yourself if you went to the ride and you or your horse got hurt.

                        Heck, horses can be unpredictable enough for when our reflexes are good--I can't imagine having to deal with a spook or ride out some exuberant bucks if I'd had a beer or two. And as for the "cowboy up" attitude, I'm guessing this would be worse with riders who are drinking. Safety first, for our horses and ourselves.
                        "Passion without knowledge is a runaway horse."


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Beverley View Post
                          Trail riding is a bit like skiing- don't let someone or a group talk you into something that in your initial reaction you aren't comfy with. A horse wreck or a blown knee on a too difficult trail just ain't worth it.

                          Well said. I think the OP is making a wise choice. This year some friends and I did several marked trail rides put on by local riding organizations. The only reason these rides are attractive to us is because everyone rides out in their own group, at their own pace. We enjoyed ourselves and will do other rides like this in the future. However, the follow the leader type trail rides with 10-30 riders are just not our cup of tea for the reasons mentioned. Ride with people you trust and know. It is not worth risking your safety or your horses safety just to please others.


                          • #14
                            10-30 riders!! Around here the organized trail ride involves 300 riders...that's a lot of inebriation even if only half of them are drinking. I've been riding with 20 or more drunks at a time, that's almost manageable. Almost.

                            EMS has to beef up staffing and be braced for a lot of runs to the closest ER, which aint close. The ride organizers and club officers carry walkie talkies and gallop up to the fallen and help them collect their horses when they fall off. I mean, we're talking some serious carnage here. No idea in the world how the insurance thing is handled, what amazes me is that any of the landowners put up with them.


                            • #15
                              Sheesh! I don't think I'd go on a ride that big, simply because there's going to be a lot of yahoos, drink or no drink! I feel like a group of 20 is quite enough for a horse to handle, let alone 300! I feel really sheltered now.
                              "Passion without knowledge is a runaway horse."


                              • #16
                                Eh, I don't do organized rides, unless it's somewhere I just LOVE because the place is spectacular and that's the ONLY time I get to see it...But I tell you what...I won't be herded like cattle. Show me an outrider herding me down the trail with a walkie talkie....my butt is going to the house.

                                Let's say it's 100 riders, no outriders, just a marked trail and a lunch spot we'll hit, then ride the second half. Out of that 100 there's 30 sober, uppitty, tsk tsking idiots on pin-earred, perfectly groomed horses hogging the trail while they talk about the 30 drunk idiots on fat out of shape wolly bear horses, 10 completely wild children/teen idiots, 20 completely overwhelmed and frightened idiots, handwalking a half asleep saint down the slightest hill, in city-type clothes and completely inappropriate sunglasses and fancy cowboy hats, all dolled up and terrified LOL ....and like 10 random people that I'd like to know, tops. You know, the usual horse-peep demographic breakdown

                                Eh, you guys go on ahead...I'll ride somewhere else thanks!


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by jeano View Post
                                  Around here the organized trail ride involves 300 riders...EMS has to beef up staffing and be braced for a lot of runs to the closest ER, which aint close. The ride organizers and club officers carry walkie talkies and gallop up to the fallen and help them collect their horses when they fall off.
                                  Isn't riding close enough to an extreme sport without actually speed-dialing death's number and leaving taunting messages on his machine? Jesus.


                                  • #18
                                    Not to mention that of the 300, probably only a couple three would be wearing a helmet. Of course, if youre GOOD and drunk you'll be limp and not get hurt as badly as if you were conscious enough to tense up, at least I believe that is the theory.


                                    • #19
                                      Don't feel bad if you're not into it. It's not for everyone.

                                      Try a hunter pace (if you haven't already). That sounds right up your alley. Lots of people go, but you only ride with yourself or a couple others. You pick your own pace and the trails are safe (and gorgeous around here!). So you get the comradery of riding with a lot of folks, but not the annoyance of drunken people galloping wildly past you or bumping into your horse.
                                      Originally posted by barka.lounger
                                      u get big old crop and bust that nags ass the next time it even slow down.

                                      we see u in gp ring in no time.


                                      • #20

                                        I've only been on a handful of big (hundreds of people) organized rides and to be frank, every one of them was insane. INSANE. Loose horses, people getting dumped left right and center, horses out of shape, bad feet, untrained, free breedings on the trail, complete idiots.

                                        Sadly, I'm not sure the booze they imbibed really made it worse. I think many were idiots stone sober. If anything, the booze may have helped them bounce when they came off.

                                        I just don't like the big rides. I have not met THAT many horse people I really wish to ride with. Either way too timid, have crazy horses, ARE crazy dangerous themselves, etc etc.

                                        I prefer to stick w/ my tried and true horse buddies and do it on a small scale. READ: there's one gal I like to ride with.
                                        A good horseman doesn't have to tell anyone...the horse already knows.

                                        Might be a reason, never an excuse...