I didn’t know how lucky I was when I lived and rode in Oregon… not just because it was beautiful and I loved the trails there, but because all of my riding buddies were a great fit. I guess I figured it would always be that way.
But, I was wrong… finding trail riding partners can be tough!
Or, I’m the difficult one…
But in case it isn’t just me, I thought I’d write about it.
NOT EVERYONE RIDES AT THE SAME PACE.
When I lived in Oregon, I rode my Morgans with other people’s Running QHs (Appendix) and Arabs. I never really thought about it, but all of our horses walked and trotted/cantered at about the same speed.
Right now, I have gaited horses as my riding horses… which is OK since Finn is not a very good gaited horse and he technically rides like a trotting horse, and BG is technically excellent as a gaited horse – so I have the best of both. But, I still run into issues due to other variables…
Some horses like to lead, some like to follow and others don’t like to lead or follow. Some tend to ride right into the other horse’s tail, some get fussy if they aren’t with their friends, most all get fussy when another horse runs past them.
I often hear that the horse ‘just needs to learn’ where to be in the crowd and how to take pressure from other horses.
The problem with that is unless you can work it out so that you have safe groups to ride in while you are training your horse, often it is an accident waiting to happen.
I say this because many humans don’t pay attention to the horses around them when they are riding – which I don’t blame them because they are out for a nice ride… But, if you are training or learning in a group and others aren’t paying attention, not much security happens. And, to be fair, who wants to help another horse ‘learn’ while riding on their one day off a week? Unless you’ve got a Steady Eddie, learning while in a group can be a trial.
THE HUMANS – trail etiquette
Of course, when anyone is out riding, most likely they want to ride the way they like to ride. Makes sense. I’m all for that… unless those riders are riding the way they want to ride without heeding to strange horses that they might meet on the trail.
I always use this example because I saw this happen on a trail ride once. An experienced rider came around the corner and didn’t heed the horses he passed. A little girl who was on her very first trail ride with both parents on a very safe babysitting horse – was whirled off when her mount spun to see what was coming around the corner at a full rate of speed.
Basically, you never know the degree of riding ability of the horse or rider that you come upon. Adults can argue it (“don’t be on the trail if your horse isn’t trained” – how does he get trained?…), but when there is a kid on the ground, crying… well, suffice it to say that the experienced rider felt sheepish. I felt badly for everyone there.
So, for me, when I get into a group, I watch the other riders, the other horses and my horse – kinda like driving. If I don’t know the other horse/rider pairs, and they aren’t paying attention, I end up not enjoying myself as much as I should. Of course, if I still had Aladdin, my ‘tried and true’, it would not be as much of an issue – but I would still get a bit safety-obsessive when watching others ride… probably because I have seen so many (avoidable) trail accidents over the years.
THE MIX OF HORSEONALITIES AND RIDERS
When you are on the trail with a new horse, it will take a little while to figure them out.
Have you ever met a horse with perpetual pinny ears towards your horse? So many times I’ve been having a great conversation with a rider but my horse HATED the other horse or vice versa. Sometimes they get over it, and sometimes they don’t. And unless you want to spend your whole ride tapping the shoulder of your mount, “Now Now Thunder, behave…”… generally they won’t ever like that horse unless they go through a bonding experience.
Or, you are riding with that horse who lathers and acts all uppidy, but is actually under control – yet he makes the other horses get all amped and out of control. Or you have the horse that is passive aggressive – walking slowly but weaving back and forth across the trail so no one can pass. Or you have the ‘up your tail’ horse. No matter how many times you say it, they just won’t S.T.A.Y B.A.C.K. Or the pokey horse that gets way behind, freaks and runs up to catch up. Or the horse who won’t stop eating or stopping or blowing or snorting or… you know what I mean.
It’s like going on a class field trip.
This was a benefit ride where I rode a ranch gelding..
And this… terrain. I ran across this recently.
I like single tracks, meadows, forests… I thought I liked everything. But, I have recently remembered that I don’t like steep cliffs.
I forgot about this because I never rode where there were steep cliffs (because I don’t like steep cliffs). But now that I am riding in all new places with new people, they are taking me to places with cliffs.
Of course, they don’t even notice the cliffs as I’m white knuckling it until I get to a wider path… but I do.
So, there’s that. Riding with people who fit you and your horse’s type of riding style, pace, trail etiquette, but also the type of trails.
Remember when we were kids and we’d just jump on and ride?
I think I’ll just try to remember that next time I go out.
IF YOU’D LIKE TO DONATE to help Jackie, Sugar and the other 28 flood horses in Dr. Lee’s care, please click this link. Although we have surpassed our goal, the costs of caring for these horses is way more than we asked to receive. So, please send prayers and donate if you feel moved.