Thursday, June 28, 2012

Chica goes for her first trail!

Chica's first trail ride - learning to lead

A couple weeks back I took Chica for her first trail ride. It is always a fun and exciting experience to take a horse for their first trail ride - but I always want to make sure it is a safe and positive experience too.

To help get Chica ready for her first ride I:
- did some ground work for desensitzing like going over logs, tarps, and in between tight spaces like between too barrels or jump standards
- did some communication exercises to make sure we understood each other really well like transitions, halting over poles, steering exercises through pylons and obstacles

When it was time to head out for the ride, I helped make it a good experience by going with calm horses from her paddock - so she had comfort from the horses that we went with.

I also started the trail by leading her from the ground. It didn't take very long for me to realize that she would be relaxed with me, so I was able to get on very early into the ride. We went through forest, around water, open field, and even through the town of Pontypool!

Chica even led a large part of the trail and showed that she can be quite a brave leader - this was interesting because she is not a leader in the paddock. What is important to understand with horses, is that your energy and focus is really important.

Because I stay really focused on the trail and my energy is very calm and relaxed, it helps my horse to stay calm and relaxed. It is important that if a horse is being distracted that you help focus your horse by keeping their attention on the trail. You keep the horse focused on the trail by steering your horse's nose to always be pointed where you want them.

Chica hadn't been under training for very long, and it was her first trail ride that completed her 2 month training package. We had done a lot of work developing trust and understanding before then, so it was really rewarding to have such a positive experience out on the trails.

Since then, Chica has been ridden by her owner and some friend's of her owner and she has been really great on the trails!

Key learning for this week: Having a first positive experience is so important - it sets your horse up to be even better the next time. Take the time it takes to make sure your horse is calm, respectful, and trusting before you hit the trails.... and then when you get on the trail, take the time it takes to do what your horse needs to feel safe and relaxed. That way trails can be fun, relaxed, and safe.

If you are looking for help with getting out onto the trails, come participate in our Natural Horsemanship Trail Riding Clinic Saturday July 7th from 9am - 4pm. The cost is $100 for the day to participate (bring your own horse or borrow one of ours), or it is free to watch. Lunch is optional and is $5. RSVP by emailing or visit for more information. Located at 531 Hwy 35 in Pontypool.

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