Training the Mind of the Horse and Rider

Training the Mind of the Horse and Rider
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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Fall Trail Riding Article

I was called to put some ideas together for a short article on trail riding for Star City Sports, a local publication.  I'm anxious to see what gets put into the article from what I wrote below.  It is suppose to be a short article, so I'm sure a lot will be deleted.  And I know there are other areas to consider, but limited with space.

The cooler days of fall make for perfect weather for riding. Messick Quarter Horses offer riding lessons and training for the show, pleasure, and trail rider.

Brenda is a Certified Instructor for Centered Riding and for AAHS, The American Association for Horsemanship Safety.
Brenda teaches the Centered Riding exercises in her lessons. She works on improving the relationship between the horse and rider, and teaches the rider how to improve the horse’s movement and control. Brenda has been competing in CTR, Competitive Trail Riding, for 2 ½ years.
To prepare the horse for a 2 hour trail ride, a day long ride, or a weekend ride, condition the horse with shorter rides. Begin your fall riding with an 1-2 hour ride at a walk. As the horse, and you, get back in shape, gradually increase the distance of your rides before increasing the speed of your rides. Make sure the hooves are trimmed, and if your horse is tender footed walking on stones, you may need to consider shoes or boots.

Prepare yourself for fall riding by layering your clothing. Add a lightweight, waterproof, windproof jacket to your saddle pack. As the weather gets colder, wearing a thermal lining with a windproof outer jacket will keep your warmer without the bulk of a winter coat. Remember to put gloves and a head band into your coat pocket, and they will always be handy when the wind starts and you are miles from your trailer. And remember to check your helmet - Every Ride, Every Time. If you haven’t started the practice of wearing a helmet, now is the time to start. I highly recommend Equestrian helmets. Protect your head.
Prepare your tack. If you haven’t been riding much this summer, now is the tie to make sure that all straps are good and Chicago screws are tightened. Oil your latigo and tie strings, making sure to pull everything loose around the D’s and taking care to oil where the leather bends around the D’s . Forgetting these areas can cause leather to dry out, crack, and break under the stress of riding. Going up or down a steep hill on a trail ride is not the time for saddle leathers to break!
Oil the breast collar well, and check to make sure it lies close but not too tight across the front of your horse. The breast collar will keep the saddle from sliding back. Some trail riders use a crupper as well, which attaches to the back of the saddle and goes around the underside of the tail, to keep the saddle from sliding forward.

Saddle bags come in all types and sizes. Take special care in attaching them to your saddle so they are no loose and bouncing on the horse, causing your horse to have sore backs and shoulders. It is wise to carry a knife, vet wrap, extra latigos or string, a small first aid kit, and water. Think about carrying your cell phone on your body, so that if you get separated from your horse, you can try to call for help.

Begin at home to get your horse prepared for trail riding. Put 3 logs on the ground, 3’ apart to walk and trot over. Practice side passing both directions in case you need to move away from a hole on the trail. Practice side passing to and away from a gate, and then try opening and closing a gate. There are very few, or no, gates at most of the lake trails. Get your horse used to being tied to the trailer, and saddle and unsaddle while being held, and then tied, at the trailer. Practice loading and unloading before the day of the ride.

If you have never been on the trails with your horse, find a friend to ride with. Branched Oak Lake is one of several lakes in the area with equestrian trails. I like this trail for beginners as it has some wide trails as well as smaller trails that weave between the trees. Most of the trails are fairly level, with some small hills.

Riding with a friend or two is a great way for both you and your horse to get accustomed to trail riding. Enjoy the outdoors and have fun riding your horse this fall.

Brenda is accepting training horses, and will prepare a horse for trail riding by riding in fields, through standing water, and over ditches. You can also come for lessons.
Email Brenda at


Christine said...

Nice post!! :)
I've been hoping to compete in a CTR or Long Distance ride for several years now. Last Saturday's Trail Challenge sure gave me a good idea on what TAZzy & I still need work on.
Looking forward to more posts like these. :)

Horses Are Our Lives said...

thanks! oh, I should have talked to you more at the Trail Challenge. I wouldn't worry about being able to do all of the obstacles perfectly. But you would need the stamina and conditioning to do 15-20+miles/day for the 2 day event. The time actually goes by very fast!!!



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