Training for Trail Horse Classes


Do you enjoy the challenge of teaching your horse precision work? Want to showcase your training by competing in the trail class? Here is the first book that makes training for this popular division easy!

*Three types of horses that the Trail class is great for!
*Laying the foundation of obedience, suppleness, and cadence

Even if you don’t want to show, these skills will be invaluable for a recreational trail riding horse!

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Do you enjoy the challenge of teaching your horse precision work? Want to showcase your training by competing in the trail class? Here is the first book that makes training for this popular division easy!

*Three types of horses that the Trail class is great for!
*Laying the foundation of obedience, suppleness, and cadence

Even if you don’t want to show, these skills will be invaluable for a recreational trail riding horse!

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781577790365
  • Publisher: Alpine Publications, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 1/1/2001
  • Series: Equi Skills Series
  • Pages: 154
  • Product dimensions: 8.50 (w) x 11.00 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

The author owns and trains at Silver Creek Farm in Athens, Texas, where she also stands a black and white Paint stallion, SC Splashsrobinsboy. She starts colts, trains and shows halter horses, pleasure and trail horses, hunters and jumpers, and All-Around horses.
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Read an Excerpt

If you plan to buy a horse specifically for trail, certain requirements apply whether the prospect is young or old, broke or unbroken. Starting with a horse that is good-minded, trainable, quiet, and that places his feet carefully will make your job as a trainer easier. Watch a horse at play to gain some insight into his natural ability. Is he graceful or clumsy? Does he look where he puts his feet or does he just plunk them down anywhere? Will he step cleanly over a pole or does he rap it with a hoof? Put him in a round pen and watch him jog and lope to see how he moves. Does he move flat off his shoulder or does he have a lot of knee action? Do his hocks move straightforward or do they wobble from side to side as he travels? Does he move slow-legged or quickly in a pitter-patter manner? Does he track in a straight line, neither toeing in or out excessively? Does he float or hit the ground with a thud? Does he have that certain presence about him that makes you want to look at him? The closer to ideal he is now as raw material (whether or not he is broke to ride), the easier it will be to "make" the finished product-a horse that is a joy to ride and one that everyone wants to own.

While I can give you basic guidelines to finding a good, prospective trail horse, the final decision is yours. Look beyond pretty. And color. Both are a bonus-if the horse otherwise fits the bill. Trainability, agility, and athletic ability are very important. Consider all factors before making a purchase. You also need to decide if this horse will be shown to a World level or at a local, state, or 4-H level. There is a difference in the quality of horse needed.
When you look for a prospect, take his age into account. A two-year-old that has been ridden for only a few weeks will not have the same polish as an older horse. If you look at a horse that is not saddle broke, watch the way he moves. His natural talent should show through when he is unencumbered by a rider. That will not change as he matures (unless his feet are neglected). A good prospective trail horse will show his inherent ability at a young age. Watch his walk, jog, and lope. Ask him to go over poles to see how he handles his feet. Does he crash through or place his feet carefully? Watch his expression when being handled. Is he alert and pleasant or resistant and sour? These are all clues that can give you insight to this horse’s suitability as a trail horse.
Agility is another requirement. A horse that requires a lot of room to maneuver will not handle a tight course as well as a more agile horse. If you have the opportunity to ride several horses, compare them. Notice that what one horse handles with ease, another cannot possibly perform because he lacks agility and the ability to maneuver in tight spaces. The right horse must show a certain amount of willingness and maneuverability. Not all horses are suited to be shown in trail class, just as not all horses are suited to be jumpers or reiners or pleasure horses.
A horse that has a lot of natural rate is a bonus. He will naturally enter a jog-over or lope-over and meet the poles in stride. A horse that can adjust the length of his stride to match the width of the poles in a trot-over or lope-over can save you months of training. Some horses will rate naturally; others learn it in time. A few never seem to get the idea. A horse that has the ability to determine the easiest and best way to get through an obstacle is a blessing. The less maneuvering or guiding you have to do, the better. A horse that stays calm under pressure is one that you will appreciate more and more as the courses get tougher and tougher.
Some horses’ way of going can be enhanced by proper shoeing (especially if the horse’s feet are out of shape). Ask your farrier for a pre-purchase exam just as you would a vet, and offer to pay him. Be sure your farrier is experienced with the breed and type of horse that you show. Some horses that could be good movers are unable to do so because their hooves are too long, their hoof angles don’t match, or their heels are too short. Have your horse trimmed or shod by a farrier who is qualified to shoe your type of horse. Ask your vet for his opinion or pay a trainer to watch your horse move if you are unsure.

Trail is a nice class to add to your pleasure horse’s routine, if he has the ability needed to compete over obstacles. It breaks up the routine of going around the rail at a walk, jog and lope, which may help his attitude if he has become bored or sour with rail work. Teaching him cues to move the various parts of his body will enable you to ride more with your legs and seat and less with hand movements that draw attention to the fact that you are cueing or correcting your horse. Training for trail can be added to your performance horse’s routine to break up the monotony. Look for the qualities outlined above no matter how the horse is currently being used. Even if you don’t show in trail, the training is fun and it will help your horse become more flexible, safe, and enjoyable to ride.

If you are looking for a horse to show at the higher levels, look for a horse with an eye-catching presence and a pretty way of going. He should be quiet and tractable. He should move with very little or no knee action and reach underneath himself with his hind legs, pushing himself forward rather than letting his front legs pull him. His hind feet should come close to, but not strike, his front feet. The horse should cover ground easily, making it look effortless. Go to a few shows and study the horses in a trail class. Watch how they move. A good moving horse should be balanced, agile, and move forward easily, maintaining the cadence of a two-beat jog and three-beat lope.
When choosing a prospect, something about the horse should draw your attention to him. Is it the way he moves, his looks, or his charisma? Color is a bonus. Something about the horse must make the judge take a second look. An extremely soft and well-trained horse will always catch a judge’s eye-so the basis lies in the horse’s training. If two horses are equally well-trained and perform the obstacles with the same degree of finesse, however, the horse’s way of going or eye-catching charisma can become the determining factor. You can enhance a horse’s appearance with a well-fitting tack and by wearing clothing that matches or complements your horse’s color. But, it is the way the horse performs that the judge will notice first and foremost. With that thought in mind, find a horse that is trainable and retains what he is taught.
Searching for the perfect horse is often frustrating, sometimes enlightening, and usually involves looking at a large number of horses until you find the horse that suits you. That horse can lope the "T" sidepass the "W" and back through the "L" and still come out smelling like the daisies in the flower pots in the "U" shaped back-up. Do not give up. He is out there. He may already be in your back yard!

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Table of Contents

1. Introduction To Trail
2. Choosing A Trail Horse
3. Counter-Bending
4. Leg And Collection: The Hidden Cues
5. The Horseshoe Pattern
6. Circles
7. The Back-Up
8. Sidepassing
9. Gates
10. Bridges
11. Trot-Overs And Lope-Overs
12. The Box
13. The Slicker, Mail Box And Optional Obstacles
14. The Water Obstacle
15. The Show: Putting It All Together
Appendix: Patterns
About the Author
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