Horse trail riding is one of the best ways to explore nature!
Hacking, or being out in open and natural areas instead of in an
enclosed area such as an arena or training pen, can be as easy or
challenging as you wish.
Enjoying trails on horseback is one of the most rewarding ways to enjoy nature. ATV’s can be very noisy and scare away wildlife on the trail. Hiking is fun but you certainly can’t cover as much distance as when you are on horseback!
Horses allow you to explore more land in less
time with a great overall view of the scenery. Enjoying trails while
sharing a partnership with a living animal, adds another special
dimension to your outdoor experience, too. You will have a bond with the
horse that you trust enough to show you the best of what the outdooors has to
When trail riding there are many things to take into consideration for
both safety and comfort. For instance what style will you be riding?
What is the best mount? The answer is, it depends on your situation.
First off, if you are renting a horse for your trail ride you probably won’t have much say beyond telling the stable your riding experience level from which they will assign you a horse. My horse riding rental page covers common questions about renting a horse. In most cases you probably won’t be able to choose the saddle or style you will ride. In the U.S.A. the majority of horse trail riding rentals are done going western. If you own your own horse, or head to Europe, many enjoy riding english.
Many people wonder what is the best mount for them? This depends on a
variety of factors. Some things you will want to consider are: What is
my experience level? What is the horse's experience level on the trails?
Do I like to go fast or slow? What kind of terrain will we be
navigating and how do I feel about that?
If you are an inexperienced rider you should not choose an inexperienced mount, especially for hacking. The combination of you not knowing enough and not having the confidence to handle an green animal can lead to problems. Please check out my horse riding for beginners page for more information on handling and riding horses .
If you are an experienced rider in the arena but haven’t ever ridden
outside of one, it is best to start out on a mount that is seasoned on
the trails and will build your confidence. A good trail partner is
worth their weight in gold when it comes to taking care of their rider.
Many people enjoy gaited horse trail riding. Gaited horses have special gaits (or way of moving) that is very smooth for the rider and covers a lot of ground. If you are an experienced rider and want to cover a lot of ground, a gaited horse could be a great choice for you for trail riding. Many but not all the gaited breeds tend to naturally have more go than whoa so consider this when choosing the right partner for you. If you want to amble down the trail slowly you’ll need to find a horse that does, too!
The terrain you will be riding on will also effect your confidence. If you are new to the trails, sticking to flatter, well established trails will help build your confidence. Only if you are confident in yourself and your horse should you attempt more challenging trails with hills, climbs, and water crossings. As your confidence grows you can gradually add in more challenges and riding at faster speeds.
If you are new to horse trail riding, start with a shorter ride. An hour is usually plenty for those that have never ridden before or who are not very athletic. You will be feeling it the next day! Don’t plan to ride a half or even full day your first ride out on the trails unless you can afford to be very tired and sore for the full week following the ride! Quality trail riding tack such as saddles made specifically for trail riding, can increase your comfort on the trails.
Once you find the right partner, get the wind in your hair, the glimpse of the beautiful landscape, and trails you can explore, you won’t want to do anything else!
Other articles you will enjoy:
Western Riding - An intro to the hows and what's of the cowboy way
Anatomy Diagrams- Learn all about the inner workings of the animal with printables!
Saddles-Browse tack for sale