I’m a ring baby — I grew up riding in a ring, and while I went on the occasional trail ride at the first barn I ever rode at, I was focused more on showing. After I bought my first horse, I moved to a barn that didn’t have access to trails and we only hauled out one time for trail ride that I can remember. And that’s been pretty much my experience trail riding except for one ride in a Metropark in 2011. Now I’m lucky enough to board at a facility with direct access to miles of groomed trails, and I’ve been logging some time riding outside of the arena. When a last-minute chance to haul out to a nature reserve with tons of bridle paths presented itself this week, I jumped on it!
Miles has never been on an off-property trail ride, and it’s been more than 5 years since I’ve done one. I was reasonably confident that Miles would be fine — after all, we’ve hauled out to horse shows every month since May and at home on the trails Miles is really quiet. In fact, I can go back in the woods all by myself, no problem. We stick to easy routes without many questions like ditches and such, and we always do about 90% walking, but we’ve hit the trails a good number of times so I figured why not. It probably helped that Trainer was going along and hauled Miles for me, hah.
We drove about 40 minutes due east to Taft Reserve Bridle Trails and pulled in with about 7 other trailers. It was a gorgeous day, so I wasn’t surprised that the place was busy. Miles grazed quietly while I tacked up, and away we went! Four of us ended up going in a small group: myself, Trainer, and two other clients who are really wonderful ladies with great trail horses. We stuck to the woods for most of our ride where it was a bit cooler, and the foliage was just gorgeous. Lush plants and trees everywhere, with very well groomed trails and lots of markers to guide our way.
We had one “naughty” moment where we were trotting, and I let the lead horse get a bit too far ahead of us and Miles played a little bit. But I sat it easily, brought his head up and we were good to go. I learned that following distance isn’t really as much of a thing on the trails as it is in the arena, especially if you have a guide horse who doesn’t mind others being close. I also learned to yell out if I need to slow down — so it was a great learning experience for me.
All in all each horse took turns leading the way (including Miles and I!) and we trotted through some of the longer, flatter stretches of terrain. It was a blast to feel Miles really stretch out and give me a big, ground-covering trot and I grinned pretty much the entire time. The whole ride was very therapeutic, and just what the doctor ordered.