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Trail Walk to Improve Your Horsemanship

 

It seems like not too many people have heard of trail walks with their horse, but we like to do it here at the Horse Ranch often throughout the camps in the summer.  It is a very enjoyable way to develop a horse.  It gives the horse and the person a chance to get out of the corral and test some of the stuff they have been working on in the corral.  Basically, a trail walk is taking your horse online out on the trails and asking them to do some of the things you might want them to be able to do if you were riding them.  It is a great way to see what their behavior is going to be like without being on their backs.  We have had people and horses here that compete in horse shows of different sorts but can’t actually leave the confinement of the corral.  They don’t have enough control or depth in their horse to ride in a field or down a trail.  Yes, believe it or not.  Sometimes it’s only the person that is worried and the horse would be fine if their owner would relax.  So, one way of bridging the gap, whether it is a horse or human problem, is to do a trail walk. 

I’m fortunate here because I have miles of trails; wide ones, narrow ones, ravines, and gentle and steep hills to go play on.  When we are out on the trails, we ask them to walk up and down hills at the speed of the person, stop on the hill if needed, and even back up and down the hills.  We will also back them down crooked trails even when there are up and down hills.  In the corral we practice sending them over poles and logs, so out on the trail we send them jumping over windfall.  The goal is to really check them out and to expose them to the bush and trails so they can become relaxed and thinking.  The person gets to see that their horse is very capable being lead quietly up a steep hill and doesn’t need to run or lunge and that they can stop or walk slowly going down.  We also have water holes that we send them through and a few man-made scary for horse obstacles to use as well.  This tests the horse’s ability to navigate the trails and find out that it is easy to do and nothing that they need to get emotional about.  At the same time, the humans get to work on the same thing.  It is very common to see people get very worked up even when they are leading their horse through the trails.  If they were on the horse, the horse would really feel the anxiousness of the rider and if the horse weren’t anxious before he probably would be now.

All you need to have is some bush and preferably some hills, then head out with your horse and have a play.  It is also fantastic for older “broke” horses.  It’s surprising how many horses that have been ridden for years that won’t back up or down a hill or between two trees.  Heading for the bush to play after you can do all the 7 patterns with your horse is a great experience. I like to have the 7 patterns established and working well in the corral before asking them to go on a trail walk.  I feel it is too much to ask of them if you haven’t taught and or learnt how to have good body control from the ground.  If you don’t know what the 7 patterns are you can find more info on our website at www.thehorseranch.com.  
 
Try a trail walk with your horse.  It’s a great way to spend an afternoon with your horse and put some depth into their skills and yours.

Happy trail walking,

Glenn Stewart

What is your dream with horse? Whatever your dream may be, if you have the horsemanship, you can live the dream. It’s just that simple.  Join us The Horse Ranch this summer and live the dream!
Now accepting bookings for the summer horsemanship camps and High and Wild Adventure.  Glenn offering year round educational horsemanship programs at his facility near Fort Saint John, BC and is available to travel and conduct clinics.  Long-term study and professional programs are now available.  For more information visit www.thehorseranch.com.