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Common Trail Riding and Obstacle Issues
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Common Trail Riding and Obstacle Issues

If you are having issues with your horse on the trail or with obstacles, have you ever thought of getting off? That’s right, I’m asking the big question some trainers do not dare suggest. The concept of staying on and working your horse through issues is one that works for some horses, and on the same note only some riders, but this can cause conflict with timid riders or horses that need more experience and confidence. If you get off any horse, no matter what you are trying to move past, you are moving with them rather than pushing through it.

There are quite a few different issues that obstacles can cause for you and your horse. If your horse has an attitude it could be just that, or it can also be fear as there is a fine balance. A young horse will often not know exactly where to put their feet so if you do not give them correct direction it can cause more problems. An older horse may be having a stubborn moment, not be able to see well enough, or may smell something we can’t nearby. There are many factors out on the trail to take into consideration including terrain, wildlife, or litter. In an arena setting with obstacles, take into consideration things such as crowds, other horses, or unfamiliar environments.

If you are a timid rider, do yourself a favor and seek help from a trainer. Also, try riding a confident horse that will take care of you. It will do all riders good to ride a horse that is well trained, confident, and beginner friendly. This will help you further where you and your own horse need to be and from there you can set goals. It will also put confident miles under your belt, which helps you as a rider further your development. If you are willing to invest in your horse, you should also be willing to invest in yourself for their sake.

Now, no matter what the obstacle is, look past it, not down at it or straight at it thinking, “dear goodness, how will we ever make it through this?”; that does not do either of you any good. Horses can feel your intention and feelings as if they were their own, so breathe, relax and know you will easily get through anything. If you audibly breathe out - like horses snorting almost - it helps your horse feel you relax and hear you release tension as they would.

To further your abilities remember to seek advice, ride some experienced horses, and try getting some video of yourself going through obstacles so you can critique yourself. If you can help others and critique them as well it will help you improve yourself. Sooner rather than later you will hear your own voice say, “breathe, relax and look past what is troubling” or something similar. Raising your standards for yourself and your horse will take you a long way much faster than approaching things pessimistically or frightfully. Think positively and know you can accomplish anything you put your mind to!

Helpful Tips

1. Stay safe!

2. Relax, breathe, and release your horse on a good note.

3. Take the time to seek help and advice.

4. Ride a well-trained horse to give yourself confidence and experience.

5. Do not fear getting off to help your horse; get over your pride of having to stay on.

6. If you come to an obstacle on the trail or in a competition, look up and across it to help your horse. Looking down will only put extra weight on their shoulders and inhibit the horse’s ability to move well.

7. Keep your horse’s eyes and nose facing the obstacle. Let them look, smell, or even touch it but do not get in a kicking match to make the horse move forward, you will only make things worse.

8. Use the herd mentality to your advantage. Having confident horses and riders go with you will make you feel great and your horse should feed off of them as well.

Previous Helpful Tips That Apply

1. Horses learn from the release of pressure, so look for the release. Even if you can only reward them for a small try, then do it.

2. Slow is smooth and smooth is fast. Take your time with it. Horses are better off if you are smoother and methodical with your movements, so go slower, be smoother and your horse will often be less reactive and more respectful.

3. Sometimes you have to let the horse make a mistake to teach them what is correct.

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