Monday, January 19, 2009

Get Out!!!

Ahhhh our trusty, ever faithful arena... Always there for us with it's four secure walls and perfect footing. We have our cones and other obstacles set up for our enjoyment. I can school as much as I want in this enclosed box can't I? NO! Get OUT!!!

The Arena is great, but come on, talk about mind numbing, boring rectangle. Your horse's brain will melt away as will yours. So get the hell out and into the trails!!

Being OUT of the safety of the precious arena is the best thing for you and your horse. Neither of you will get sour, or bored and there is A LOT of training you can get done on the trails. Like What? Well let me list off a few things.
  • Fallen trees make GREAT ground poles/caveletti.

  • Practice your side pass around trees, stumps or rocks.

  • Try and keep your horse straight with NO walls.

  • Um hello... HILL WORK! For toning and strengthening the hindquarters.

  • Some fallen trees make good jumps.

  • Go for a nice leg stretching gallop through a safe field.

You know for as far as you can stretch your imagination and creativity being out on the trails is an ENDLESS Training AREA! No walls, no limitations and it is so very healthy for you and your horse to break the monotony of being in the arena!

What else do you guys do when you're out on the trails? As far as working your horse? Or maybe you don't intentionally work you just go for a nice ride on a nice day!!


GoLightly said...

Light, deep snow.
Best fun there is outside, and if you do fall off, your butt won't hurt.
I used to love riding in deep snow.
Like swimming, only colder:)
It's a great work out for the horse.
Just keep your toes warm:)

Thanks, TrexX. You KNOW how I feel about people never leaving the box.
Drives the horse crazee with bordeom, and his fitness and his muscles just don't develop as they should indoors. You need to be really creative, if all you do is arena work.
Horses weren't born to go round and round and round.
Just try going straight without a wall beside you, after sticking to the sides of your box..

Great post!!

Nd_Appy said...

Don't have an arena or a round pen! >.< Guess I am never in a box.

I prefer riding down to the river and up and down through the hills there. Definitely get the horses used to all kinds of things popping out of the grass. Its a wildlife refuge... Have grouse, pheasant and deer popping up out of now where. And BTW whats straight? Just kidding, most times I don't think we go straight at all.... >.< Mostly we're to busy just enjoying our selves. :)

Trainer X said...

LOL!! And talk about the best way to bomb proof your horse With all that happens out on the trails!!!

Nd_Appy said...

Oh I know. And the dang grouse and pheasant ALWAYS wait until they are right under your horse's nose before they explode into the sky.

kestrel said...

Actually, I find that trails are best for MY mind. I can be as guilty of going arena brain dead as my horse!
On the trails I have to stay alert and respond to any situation quickly and appropriately. Situations that may never arise in the arena keep my focus clean and keep me looking ahead when I'm out on the trail. Behavioral issues that may never arise in the arena give me a chance to form a cleaner bond with my horses, and really tell me what areas we need to work on.

TallDarkAndSpotty said...

The thing I love about being out on the trail is that they develop a big forward moving walk with lots of energy. It's very hard to show off your energetic (but also relaxed on a loose rein) walk in a dressage test if your horse has been begrudgingly plodding around an arena for too long! The last place I lived had groomed tracks winding for miles on end through the forest. It was absolute heaven for getting a horse to really stretch out and trot big.

Nosnikta said...

There's a 7mile (one way) trail that we like to take on moonlit nights. You can see fairly well up on the main path, but if you take the trails down through the trees it's PITCH BLACK! You lean forward on your horse (so you don't get clotheslined by a branch) and put 100% of trust in his ability to get you back to the top. We usually cruise along at a nice extended trot when doing this. Sometimes he'll break into a lope and you just go with it. You can't see the turns coming up so you just have to feel him and go along with the ride. It's amazing. You HAVE to put your trust in your horse. What a rush.

One of the most beautiful sights I had ever seen was one night last year when the trees were so full of lightning bugs it was like riding along in blinking yellow xmas lights. Gorgeous.

Nicely dun said...

Lately I've been doing the ol "snow hack" thing, just walking around through the snow, taking in the sights,(of course everything is DIFFERENT when its covered in two feet of white)

Over the summer, agreed, use the indoor arena, outdoor arena, trails and everything you can. I usually save the indoor for a rainy day...or I just get wet:P
Another bomb proofing creature is of course, the wild turkey! or a flock of about thirty of them, appearing out of NOWHERE in the middle of a hay field...
Then theres porcupines (shining in the distance) and deer, that scamper away practically before you notice them...

I miss summer

Trainer X said...

Hahahahaha anything small, wild and that pops up out of nowhere or flapping of wings out of nowhere is scary and great for bomb proofing!! LOL!

clara said...

i like trail riding. it's getting to the trails that i hate. you have to go through some neighborhoods with some none horse people. one family is crazy they scream at you if they see horse poop anywhere and they have a GIANT dog. no kidding that thing must be part wolf and whats worse is that it is behind a solid fence so your riding by and it will jump onto the fence so out of no where the fence your next to moves and there is this wolf thing barking behind it so your horse flips out. fun times lol.

Paigeley said...

hey trainer x you forgot armadillos :P my horse would rather face a fully loaded semi than a horse-eating armadillo

Trainer X said...

LMFAO!! Armadillos!! It's ok I have a horse who does not mind snakes or birds! But is terrified of fluffy bunny rabbits!!!

sterling said...

Yay! Trail riding! The best way to have fun! Hills are great to yahoo up (if they're safe, of course) and it's the ultimate in relaxing challenge for your horse. It also helps strengthen and balance him, and you'll both have a lot of fun, too!

sterling said...

Of course, it's awesome bombproofing! However, even the most bombproof horse can teleport at the sight of the bloodsucking, horse-eating bunny that whizzes by it's nose. Or a turkey. Apparently, either is considered a predator to a horse, LOL!

lachellesays said...

My horse is not the best trail horse in the world. (Late-gelded, ex racehorse, arab, etc.). One of the first times we went out on the hack path around the barn next door we ended up racing a train that was less than 20 feet away from us (we won).

There is also the dreaded "dog path" along this trail. There is a GIANT blood hound that sits so nice and quiet until you get RIGHT beside it. At that point it proceeds to act like a wild horse-eating beast and lunges forward at the chain-link fence sending any and all creatures in its path running.

Last time I went out, the bloodhound had a new friend! (also a horse-eating bloodhound).

Talk about desensitization.

SammieRockes said...

Oh, I rarely ride in the arena, my horse absolutely hates it and I feel safer on a trail...except for tress, trees + Knees=danger. I usually go bareback, so yay for balance work, I can also move my legs free that way easier if a tree comes up quick.

We took our horses on a camping trip last summer, which I hope to repeat this summer, It was amazing, since I went from living with an abundance of hills to an evil little flatland. WE took them to the mountains, my horse did best because he was the one experienced with mountains, I mean we went to STEEP, Rocky, UP HILL Striaght mountains, It was a blast.

Tricky said...

We have great trails out my way, they are kept wide and open for use by fire-trucks, and once a year or so they grade them so they are nice and flat and sand. Not for long!!!! There is nothing better than a long gallop through the bush especially to reduce any psoas are injury and strengthen the upper back and hip. At the stables I think I am the ONLY one to go out to do gallop work, even though there are 3 more horses who have similar muscle issues to my girl and could really do with the stretch.
For a person who is trying to train a horse who has never been out of an arena there is nothing better than trails to get your horse "off the fence". Lateral work is a cinch out there, and wow can ou ever get some power extensions away from the horse-murdering tree stump that's been there for 5 years!

ridewithjoy said...

Joy hates arena work in or out ( with an adult rider that is). If the kids are having lessons with her( she loves kids) the donkey outside can slam into the wall over and over and she doesn't blink. I tried to work on some transitions alone with her Sat. after the lessons and a tiny TWIG!!!!! fell on the roof and rolled off. Hysterical panic erupted- I wish I knew a cure for dramaqueenitis. Outside she almost never spooks and we have gone by some really weird stuff including the horse-eating flying white plastic shopping bag blown out of a passing pick-up. That moster we chased through the woods till we caught it.

Nicely dun said...

My horse also hates the arena. He's decided the arena has, I dont know, some kind of horse-eater that lives in the corner, maybe under the sand...we are trying to befriend it, but I prefer riding outside anyway.
There is a conservation area about an hour away from where I board, last summer we trailered there a few times. It is amazing! There are trails for miles and miles, up hills, through bush, escarpment, there are at least FIVE very "horse friendly" bridges, with ACTUAL rivers underneath them (well, creeks and streams i guess lol) so thats awesome practice for trail class. And there is one spot where we can ride into the water(id never done that before!) The only thing thats NOT that great is the abundance of tourists, and let me tell you, a BABY CARRIAGE is about the scariest thing since wild turkeys. Especially when it comes out of nowhere, at the top of a hill. (no children were hurt)
P.S. Your blog is awesome. Much laughter.

Mikolaj said...

Haha, we don't have an arena, so no problems there! And we have some LOVELY trail riding areas - across the road is a huge ravine with a well beaten trail that circles the entire top of it. A lot of pathes lead down into the ravine as well, so it's absolutely AWESOME for hillwork which is rare to find on the prairies.

We also live near a river which is called the "Floodway" because of it's huge banks to contain flood waters. It stretches for miles and miles and miles, good for a nice gallop, and more hillwork. They were doing construction on it this year to build the banks higher, so the entire thing was contained by that tarp snowfence crap. Heh heh, the horses have learned how to quietly step over the downed parts to get us in and out - not an easy feat when the wind is making them flap!

I love being outside. It's so good for the horses to get used to all the sights and sounds, I'd kill myself if I always had to ride in an arena.

And yes, deep snow ROCKS.

sterling said...

My boy LOVES the trails. It's just too fun for him. Ladst year we went through water for the first time, and I discovered a quirk of his: he feels for the bottom - with his nose. He'll go up almost over his eyes trying to touch the bottom! He also loves hills. He rode our Curly mare into the ground on an eighteen mile trail ride; she was dripping sweat, and he was dry as a bone and ready for more when we got back.

Also, a couple of years ago we were ging for a short hack with two other people (we had bells on our saddle to frighten away the boogers). I was riding in the back. Then a wild turkey who'd been sitting tight sprang up next to the group. Rider in front bailed as his horse reared. Second rider fell as her horse showed a remarkable display of speed after doing a 180. I wound up on my horse's neck, and figured I might as well fall off, as I was hanging on by a fistful of mane and a prayer and he was heading to the barn, and the path down was sort of steep and twisty.

My good boy, in the milisecond it took me to let go and fall he had realized I was not a monster, but his rider, and so he jumped me with his hind end instead of stepping on me, and stopped afer three strides. Well, I'm proud to say that I stayed on the longest. And, now he's quite desensitized to turkeys.

URAn4ssHat said...

My horse seems to think side passing UP a hill is great fun. He is an athletic little bugger. After a few times, he figures out that forwards is the easier choice, and he can't buck (much) while doing lateral work over a mogul!

Mikolaj said...

*giggles* I introduced my Arab mare to hills for the very first time about 2 years ago. We went on a big group trail ride a few hours away in a park known for endurance racing due to the very large hills.

She had up no problem, but took her awhile to understand down. First time she thought we should race down with her head up like she goes UP them - then tripped on a log and almost went to her knees. It only took about 2-3 lessons for her to figure out how to go down a hill. Within an hour, she was actually seeking out the hills - she'd charge up them, and without even a cue from me, stop as light as a feather on the crest to survey the area and figure out what needed to be done next.

By the end of the trail ride, it was so hilarious, I couldn't stop laughing - we'd be on a pretty flat trail with just some mild "humps" and she'd immediately jog up the jump with her head down, slow, and then ease her way back down the hump. We're talking a tiny little hill not more then 3'0" high. It never ceases to amaze me how fast they can learn when they like something!

cierarosaline said...

My horse is fabulous in the ring or in a jumping field and out on cross country. He'll go through and over and by ANYTHING as long as we're moving. Walking trail rides or even trotting????? OUT OF THE QUESTION!!! He goes berserk! Agh. Sooo frustrating...