This Article is About
prey animal
groundwork
different things
horses
trees
The Trail Horse
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Horses are different things to different people. Some people are scared because of their sheer size and unpredictability; others have the time of their lives while on the back of a prey animal. Some ride only in the arena, while some have only ridden up in the high country on the mountain side. Whatever you have ridden I want to help share and guide you in making a better partner on the trail with this article.

Most of my training of horses has been for the trail. Training for the trail is what it is about for me. It is much easier to take a horse that has been on the trail and work them in the arena, than it is to take an arena horse and work them on the trail for the first time. I am right now in June of 2013 training one of my horses for the trail. While I work on groundwork and riding in the round pen to start with and develop a foundation to take on the trail, I do perform groundwork with her out on the trail that she will be riding on. It is much safer to get as much "spooky" out while you are on the ground than try to fight them while you are on their back.

So what I do is take her out in the forest. I have her go over twigs and branches and small trees. I also make her go up and down small hills, over logs, and through water. I do all of this while I'm on the ground so that she can react and I won't have the chance of getting thrown off. I'll introduce a new area one day, then the next I will come back to it and go through the same things again, and might go to a new area as well. Then the next day I will go again to the first and second areas, and all the while she is getting quieter and quieter about the areas that she does know and not as reactive on new areas that I take her to.

Now sometimes you aren't able to do groundwork for a week before you ride them in a new place, and that is ok. I won't be doing groundwork in every place that I ride before I ride her. But I feel that to better set myself and her up for success, I expose her to the new places outside the confines of the round pen on the ground, while I am putting a foundation on her for riding in a safe and controlled environment of a round pen. That way when I do take her out riding, she will have already been there several different times and it will be just the same old routine and one less thing that will be new while I am up on her back.


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