Without a doubt, trail riding is one of the most enjoyable activities an equestrian can partake in with their equine partner. From being able to get outside the arena to exploring new paths out in nature, trail riding is an enjoyable way to relax and condition your horse.
Still, whether you are riding alone or out with a group of friends, there is always the potential that something can go wrong. If your horse becomes uncomfortable and spooks, it can be much harder to gain control and stop them from bolting without the boundaries of the arena fencing.
Because there is always that chance you might come across an unexpected obstacle, it's important to make sure your horse is comfortable with trail riding so that you both enjoy a safe, fun ride.
3 Horse Trail Riding Tips
If it's your horse's first trail ride or they just tend to be nervous, there are a few tips you can try to get them more comfortable out on the trail.
1. Build Your Horse's Confidence in the Arena
Before you hit the trails, work on building your horse's confidence in the arena with obstacles they're likely to encounter in nature. You can bring in some logs or small tree branches and ask your horse to calmly walk over them. Many horses can be nervous around puddles or creeks, so you might want to fill up a kiddie pool and practice with that. Don't forget to practice with crinkly objects like tarps, plastic bags and water bottles.
Just keep in mind that you don't want to overwhelm your horse by working on everything at once. Introduce them to just a few obstacles and objects at a time and make sure they are calm and confident before rewarding them.
2. Go in a Group
Once your horse is confident around the arena obstacles, you can try hitting the trails with a group of other riders. Horses are herd animals, so going out in a group will help them feel safer in unfamiliar areas. Confident, well-trained horses can lead the way, helping other horses feel more sure of themselves.
Make sure everyone discusses beforehand how they'd like the trail ride to go. For example, you don't want the leader to suddenly decide to canter off if you and your horse are uncomfortable with that. For your horse's first trail ride in particular, sticking with a calm, controlled walk is key.
3. Stay Relaxed
If your horse starts feeling tense or begins to jig, it's important to remain calm and relaxed. Horses are heavily influenced by their rider's emotions and body position. If you begin feeling nervous, holding your breath and tensing up in the saddle, it will be much more difficult for your horse to regain their composure.
Instead, focus on taking deep breaths, sitting calmly in the saddle and talking soothingly to your horse as you work through whatever obstacle they are facing.
Find the Trail Tack You Need to Love the Ride
At Horse Tack Co., riders of all disciplines will be able to find the tack and supplies they need to hit the trails and love the ride. From fly spray to help ward off pesky insects to trail boots to help keep your horse's feet protected when they travel over uneven terrain, you'll find everything you're looking for — at prices you'll love.
If you have any questions, feel free to give our team a call at 866-634-8225 or contact us online and we'll get back to you.