When people want to own a horse, they usually set qualities that a horse should possess. Among the common attributes set by would-be horse owners are colors, markings, and breed. When looking for the perfect trail horse, it’s another story. Those characteristics in a horse will not and should not matter when looking for a horse that would be great during trail rides.
If you want a horse that will be a great companion during many of your adventurous trail rides, you don’t need to look at its color or how enormous or small his body size may be (except if the horse is actually too gigantic or too scrawny. A good trail horse is neither a gelding nor a mare, since it can be either. Basically, the physical attributes don’t matter at all, because if you do put on weight on those aspects, you won’t find a horse that might actually have the potential to exhibit outstanding trail riding abilities. Ditch the physical aspects and go straight to evaluating its performance.
You can only find out if a horse would be a great trail riding partner if you spend time with it. Ask the seller if he would allow you to take the horse out for a test ride; if he won’t, there’s no reason for you to stay and consider a purchase from him. Before deciding to buy a horse, you must at least try the horse out as much as possible to really see if it’s capable of doing the job.
What to Look for in a Great Trail Horse
A trail horse should be patient; not one that appears to be constantly in a hurry or seems to be restless at all times. It should also be a good follower but at the same time, a good navigator that knows how to lead the trail ride on its own when the situation calls for it.
A trail horse should not be picky especially with the drinking water you offer for it to drink. The trail ride companion should also enjoy traveling as much as you do and will not mind going to new places and being exposed to unfamiliar things. Apart from that, a good candidate is sociable to other horses. Emotionally and mentally unstable horse that kicks and bites is definitely a no-no.
A keeper should also be a savvy on maneuvering its way during the adventure and taking you to safe trails. What it cannot step on, it should be able to sense on how to avoid it. The horse should not also be easily spooked by anything unfamiliar that he may encounter during the ride. In other words, a good horse should not be too jumpy, with overstimulated flight response. There are horses that speed away in the opposite direction even at the slightest unfamiliar sight or sound. This quality does not really make an excellent trail ride companion. One of the slightest sounds that could spook a horse, but should not be of concern to a stable trail horse, is the rattling sound of plastic around the corner.
A trail ride is a ticket to a great escape to nature and there is nothing better than to have a mentally, emotionally, and physically fit equine companion to take you there. The most important thing about getting a horse for trail riding is to make sure that you and the animal have a deep connection and you are most certain that the horse respects and likes you. Since the trail riding experience will take you and your horse to different places (at times, to places that are unfamiliar to both of you), trust is a big factor to consider.
What Lies on the Outside Does Not Really Matter
Since physical attributes don’t really matter much in trail horses, it also goes to horses that might actually have poor conformation. There are horses that may not look perfect to your sight but in reality, they can perform very well during the rides. What really matters is that your chosen horse is healthy to take on the adventure, as advised by your veterinarian, and he enjoys your companion and traveling as much as you do. Keep in mind that a horse could pick up illnesses during rides (some may be caused by equine parasites), so it is important to come up with a good deworming program as recommended by your veterinarian.
How to Make the Most Out of Your Trail Rides
Here are quick tips and reminders on how you can make your trail ride adventure fruitful and a remarkable experience.
- Choose a horse that genuinely trusts you and one that is not spooked out very easily
- Plan out your trails; choose ones that are safe to ride on for both you and your horse
- Get a friend to ride with you. By doing this, you can have someone to be there for you in case of emergency.
- When you do want to ride alone, make sure you are highly skilled and you have a veteran horse for that matter.
- Warm up your horse before a long trail ride
- Keep treats handy for your equine companion.
- If you think your horse is way more adventurous than you are, try riding up a hill, overcome natural obstacles, or pass through shallow watercourses.
- Most importantly – just enjoy the journey!