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Successful Trail Riding

Kate Fenner - Wednesday, March 27, 2013
long-reining in the paddock

Teaching Trail Riding

We often think that trail riding is simple and easy for both horse and rider but nothing could be further from the truth. There is no doubt that it is easier to ride a horse in a yard than an arena and easier to ride in an arena than a paddock. The trail adds all sorts of other potential hazards to our ride.

Like anything else, trail riding must be taught and it is simplest and safest place to start is on the ground. If our goal is to ride around the property then we need to break that down into smaller, more manageable goals that the horse can be successful with. Assuming your horse is going well in the arena, I tend to follow this sort of pattern:
  1. After your arena ride, dismount and lead the horse around the outside of the arena. Practice give to the bit and shoulder control along the way to hold his attention and have him understand that the lesson is not over.
  2. Next time, assuming the horse was confident with 1., I would long-rein him around the outside of the arena. This is a slightly more difficult exercise for the horse as you are further away and he will need to listen to your direction cues (obviously the horse needs to know how to long-rein well - Long-reining Training DVD).
  3. Repeat the pattern - lead, long-rein and ride, taking him a little further from the 'comfort zone' each time.
leading the horse 

Leading the Horse on the Trail

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