Avoid These Trail Riding Mistakes

Courtesy of Downunder Horsemanship

If you want your horse to be an all-around broke mount, it’s important to ride him outside the confines of an arena. Riding outside the arena will expose your horse to a brand new environment filled with strange objects, and most importantly, allow you to put some steady miles under his feet. Here are two common mistakes to avoid.

#1 Putting the horse on autopilot.
The biggest mistake people make when first taking a horse outside is not paying attention. They put the horse on a big, loose rein and then forget all about him. Then when he spooks, they get dumped on their head because they weren’t prepared to stop him. Stay aware while you’re up in the saddle and keep your eyes open for objects your horse might potentially spook at. If he does do something silly, you’ll be ready to do a One Rein Stop and remain in control of the situation. If you go down the trail letting your horse do whatever he wants, he’ll be looking for objects to spook at. Give him a job to do and put his feet to work so that he has to pay attention to you. Horses can only think about one thing at a time. The horse will either be paying attention to you or trying to find something to spook at.

#2 Babysitting the horse.
Other people try to babysit their horses the entire ride by constantly hanging onto the horse’s mouth with two reins and not getting out of the walk. They try to protect the horse from scary objects, but their plan always backfires on them. The more you pull back on two reins and say, “Don’t worry, Precious,” the more worried your horse is going to get because he feels trapped and claustrophobic. Put him on a loose rein and get his feet moving. Give him a job to do.