Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Just a Trail Horse

How many times have you heard the words, "just a trail horse?" Fortunately, that low-horse-on-the-totem-pole image of the trail horse is on its way out and emerging in its place is that of a skilled and dependable partner, which, for most riders, is an ideal worth pursuing. Organizations such as the American Competitive Trail Horse Association have created ways to measure and document the development of trail horses. This gives structure to what in the past has been a largely unstructured leisure sport for horse owners. The unorganized, haphazard approach to trail riding is still perfectly legitimate and will appeal to some riders, but for those who want a bit more challenge, a bit more socializing with like-minded people, and a plan for adding tangible value to their horses, groups such as ACTHA may be the answer.

I rode in an ACTHA-sanctioned “Competitive Trail Challenge” recently with my mare, Candy. You can see the result on this week’s TV show. With virtually no preparation we aced two of the six trail obstacles on the six-mile course. I was stunned at how much better some of the other horse and rider teams were with these obstacles. Far from discouraging me, it gave me some new things to work on with my “trail horse.” Yes, ACTHA is a sponsor of my TV and radio shows but that only buys them commercials, not the personal opinion I express in my blogs. Bottom line, give it a try. See you on the trail!



Karen McLain said...

I really like your post. Those "just a trail horse", (Dude or Lesson horses), take care of so many people, and teach so much. Competitor or companion, they are beautiful Souls!

dazey said...

As was said in another comment, trail horses have the opportunity to become a true companion that other horses miss. Please allow me to recommend for additional information Basic Training for a Safe Trail Horse with subtitle of Eliminating the Fear Factors. It is a small inexpensive paperback narrative that includes a brief description of competition that takes place in judged pleasure rides. This book was written especially for recreational riders who keep horses at home and want a horse to be as safe as a horse can be. It shows the rider/handler how to relate to a horse as his alpha mare herd member to be able to teach it without having to use longe lines, round pens, bits, spurs, ropes, etc. Teaching in the position of an alpha mare is direct and logical and only requires patience to be insistent, persistent, and consistent. It is available on Amazon.com or questions may be emailed to the author at safetrailhorse@gmail.com where an autographed copy is available.

Bev said...

And if you really want to challenge yourself, your horsemanship and skills, try other competitive trail sports such as trail trials (Texas Trail Challenge, for example) and competitive trail riding (Supreme Trail Challenge, for example) or compete in a ride put on by the mother of all competitive trail riding (North American Trail Ride Conference, a 48 yr-old non-profit organization). All of these sports have obstacles and more miles. Some even have time windows for completing the trail course which require that you travel at an average speed throughout the ride!