This time of the year for many is considered off-season. There are fewer horse shows as the colder weather approaches. Many of us do not want to completely quit riding because the weather is still fairly nice, but also want to give our show horses a little time to decompress.
A great way to do this is to take your show horse out on the trails.
It is a great way to escape from the competitive demands inside the show ring. It also allows you and your horse to mix things up and use different muscle groups that they wouldn’t normally use inside the ring. You will see an increase in mood from your horse as it tends to freshen their attitudes towards work.
For some horses that have only seen the show pen, going outside of their norm can be somewhat intimidating. On the other hand, getting your horse started on the trail can also be intimidating. Here are a few things to help you and your horse get past that safely:
Start slow – Instead of immediately taking your horse out on a trail, try riding around the barnyard or pasture to see how he reacts. He might snort and smell different things and that is okay. Take your time and let him know that leaving the barn area/home is nothing to be worried about.
Approach different things – While still staying close to the barnyard, approach different objects that your horse may have not seen before or may not recognize such as a pile of leaves, a down tree, or a wheel barrow. Let him approach it, sniff it, and comfortably walk past it. This will help increase your horse’s confidence.
Go with a buddy – For your first actual trail ride, make sure you go with a partner. Horses are herd animals so taking a friend or two with you will make your horse feel safer and more comfortable. It is also good to have someone with you in case you run into trouble.
Lead the group – Once your horse is feeling comfortable on the trail with his herd, offer to lead. This can be intimidating for some horses at first but it is a great exercise to build confidence.
Being safe when alone – There are times when you may get separated from the group during your ride. Don’t panic. Take your time with your horse and choose a path that he is familiar with. Don’t try to maneuver obstacles that could be dangerous.
Trail riding is not only a great decompressor for your horse, it is also a decompressor for the rider! This will help to mix up the everyday monotony of rail work and will teach you to appreciate the strong and smart animal that you own.
Help keep your horse feeling relaxed and comfortable on the trails this fall with a Benefab Therapeutic Poll Pad.