Ellison is a professional horse trainer and riding instructor. She runs a summer camp program and offers kids a safe introduction to horses.
Advice for New Riders Considering a Trail Ride
I'm sure the experienced riders out there don't think twice before leaving the confines of the ring to head out on the trail. Some people though—newer riders—may not be so confident. Here are my thoughts on the subject.
Why Ride Outside of the Ring?
The obvious reason is that it is fun! Not only is it fun for us to explore on horseback, but it can also do wonders for our horse's mental well-being to get out of the boredom and monotony of ring work.
Riding out is good exposure for your horse to see and experience new things that they wouldn't in the ring. Riding through the woods, across streams or up and down hills are great training opportunities, not to mention, they will help with your horse's physical fitness.
How Do You Know If You Are Ready to Ride Outside the Ring?
Riding out in the open can be nerve-wracking if you have never done it before, so how do you know if you are ready to give it a try?
Do you have a solid, balanced position with a straight line from shoulder, hip to heel? This is what keeps you balanced and is even more important on uneven ground.
Can you stand on your stirrups and lean forward without your lower leg sliding back? For negotiating hills, it may be helpful too. If not, stand all the way up to lighten your seat and lean forward (which you would need to be able to do without your lower leg sliding back). Remember, your lower leg is what is holding you on!
Do you have access to a calm, experienced horse to ride on the trails? If you are a new rider, I hope to assume that you are riding a safe school horse. We want your first trail ride experience to be a good one, so we want it on a horse that has been out on the trails before—preferably one who is known for being a great trail horse.
Do you have other people to go with? No one should ever trail ride alone. Even the most experienced riders on the safest horses should not ride out alone. You just have no way of knowing what might happen and when you might need help. Not to mention, horses being the herd animals that they are, feel more comfortable in the presence of other equines—preferably other calm and quiet ones like themselves.
Where Should You Go?
If your farm has trail access right from home, that is a great place to start. It will most likely be the place where you will be most comfortable and so will your horse.
If you don't have trail access at the farm, ask other riders where they go and ask them if they can recommend a good place for a first-time trail rider—somewhere with easy terrain and where you aren't too likely to encounter spooky stuff like mountain bikes or things like that. Make sure it is a place that won't require you to have to cross any roads or ride alongside traffic.
Now That You Picked a Place
Plan a day with your riding friends and plan to go on a trail ride. Hopefully, one of your friends has ridden on the trails before and can be the fearless leader.
Make sure that everyone is aware that this is a first-time trail ride for some of you and that you are looking to just have a relaxed, calm experience. In other words, this will involve mostly walking and only going faster if all the riders in the group feel comfortable and want to. Trail etiquette is to ride to the level of the least experienced rider in your group. By doing so, it will keep everyone happy and safe.
Don't plan on a ride that lasts for hours and hours. Just an hour or two is the perfect amount of time to go on your first trail ride.
Wear a helmet. You should be wearing one all the time, and trail riding is no different. If you are a nervous rider and own a body protector, you can even wear that too. There is no shame in taking as many safety precautions as possible.
Dress for the weather and wear layers. If hunting is allowed where you are riding and is in season, wear blaze-orange to make it known you are a horse and rider, not a deer!
Carry a cell phone. Obviously, if things are going well, you might want to snap a couple of pictures or selfies. Mostly though, have your cell phone just in case something happens, and you need to call for help.
Know where you are going. If you are unsure make sure to have a map. Start out early in the day, so you don't have to worry about running out of daylight. Lost in the dark woods is no fun!
Other Things to Consider
Depending on where you are riding, if your horse is barefoot, he may need front shoes or boots to ride on rocky or hard trails. Be aware of where you are headed and if you need to take any of those sorts of precautions. It would really put a damper on your first successful trail ride if your horse comes home with sore feet.
If you are planning on riding for over an hour, that is probably longer than your normal time in the saddle. Make sure your saddle is comfortable enough for that. You can always buy a nice, soft seat saver to cushion you, or if necessary, you might want to trail ride in a different more comfortable saddle. Switching the saddle for your comfort is totally fine assuming you take the necessary time to see that it fits your horse's back comfortably!
The Joy of Trail Riding
Trail riding is great fun when you have the necessary skills and are prepared. Hopefully, this will give some newer riders the pointers they need to be brave enough to give it a try! I think you and your horse will both be glad you did!
© 2018 Ellison Hartley
Ellison Hartley (author) from Maryland, USA on October 27, 2018:
Thank you both for reading my article, I'm glad you enjoyed it!
Carrie Kelley from USA on October 27, 2018:
Lots of good tips for trail riding and safety. Thanks for sharing.
FlourishAnyway from USA on October 26, 2018:
This makes me want to try horseback riding again. It’s so clear how much you love your horses.
A Guide for First-Time Trail Riders - pets
The Croom Motorcycle Area:
During the winters, we sometimes make trips to Florida for recreation and entertainment. Often we'll take our enduro or motocross bikes along, and stay at the Holiday Inn in Brooksville, Florida, where we can get easy access to the wonderful Croom Motorcycle Area. That site is centrally located, and provides convenient access towards Orlando, Tampa, etc., for visiting the theme parks on days that you're not riding at Croom. Back in '92, when we were doing a lot of winter practice riding, we sketched out a map and guide to Croom, for our own use, and to give to friends at MRA. An extended version of that Croom guide that was published in Trail Rider Magazine in May of '93. That article is still a useful overview of Croom, although many details regarding prices, phone numbers, service businesses,etc., will have changed. Especially note that the phone number area code has changed from 904 to 352. Croom is located within the Withlacoochie State Forest. The State Forest contains campgrounds, hiking trails, mountain bike trails, etc. For information on day use areas within the Withlacoochie State Forest, including Croom, see: http://www.fl-dof.com/state_forests/withlacoochee_day_use.html For more information, you can phone the State Forest visitors' center at: 352/754-6896 Important note: The Holiday Inn that used to be just outside Croom, and referred to in the original article below, is now a Best Western motel. The motel is located just west of the I-75 and S.R.50/U.S.98 interchange. For more information about current Best Western's facilities, you can call them at 352-796-9481 or Toll Free 888-568-4060, and/or check the information at this page and this page.
And now, on to the Trail Rider Magazine article about Croom:
[Note that although this information is dated as of 1992, much of it is still relevant today]
THE CROOM MOTORCYCLE AREA: Winter Dirt Riding in Central Florida, or,
How Trail Riders can Avoid Cabin Fever! By Lynn Conway © 1992 by Lynn Conway [ Trail Rider Magazine, May 1993, p.14-17 ] Fall is here and the season is winding down for many of us "north woods riders". You're thinking, "Gads, it's gonna be four or five months till we ride again. Skiing and snowmobiling can be fun for some, but there's just no substitute for dirt riding!" Last fall, while talking with Dave Bowman (owner of Small Displacement Motor Sports in Waterford, MI) my boyfriend Charlie and I were commiserating about all this. Dave said, "Hey, haven't you ever heard about Croom?" We said "What the heck is Croom?" We learned that the Croom Motorcycle Area is a large state park in central Florida set aside especially for dirt riding. It's near some major motocross tracks. Motocrossers from our area often use it for practice riding while down there for winter racing. That's how Dave first found out about it. The 2600 acre Croom trail riding/scrambles area is located between Gainesville and Tampa, right at the intersection of I-75 and Florida Route 50/US-98. There's a Holiday Inn right next it, and you can ride into Croom right from the motel parking lot! We thought this sounded great and resolved to check it out. Abstract thoughts turned to action. We joined the "snowbird pilgrimage" to the Sunshine State during the '91-'92 Christmas-New Year's holidays, hauling along an RM125, a KDX200 and an RMX250. Wow, Dave was right! Too much fun! We liked it so much, we squeezed in more vacation and went there again in late February! We found Croom to be a truly outstanding riding area, with terrain for all skill levels and types of riding. First off, there's a huge "training pit" near the motel that has some excellent motocross practice loops carved into it. You'll often see pro-level motocrossers practicing in this pit. You'll also see lots of amateur racers working to get their lap times down, and trail riders who like to go really fast. Then there are the four square miles of back country, perhaps the most interesting part of Croom for many trail riders. This rolling, forested area is criss-crossed by countless trails and a number of forest roads. Many trails carry you to old, abandoned phosphate quarries, now overgrown with trees, and carved by years of dirt riding into complex labyrinths full of 3-dimensional terrain. You'll probably find markers from enduro competitions out on these trails, and in the quarries you may find markers for trials sections going up, around and down through some wild terrain. Finally, there's an area near the campground set aside for inexperienced riders, where beginners can work out the basics of off-road motorcycling on easy, but very interesting, terrain. So, Croom has something for every riding style and level, including being a good place to introduce dirt riding to newcomers to the sport. Of course, another key thing Croom, especially for those with families that may not be too excited about "long dirt riding vacations", are all the other things you can do down there. Between days of hard riding at Croom, you can relax with your family and "play tourist" at nearby theme parks, such as Disney World, Sea World and Busch Gardens.
Unlock Raider Ride
The first thing Hunters need to do to unlock the Raider Ride is befriend all other Grimalkyne Tribes in the game, which is how players can go about unlocking each of the Palico gadgets. It should be noted that I was able to unlock the Raider Ride after befriending only four of the tribes, and before I was finished with the Gajalaka in Elder's Recess.
Players should ensure that they have the following Grimalkyne Tribes:
- Bugtrappers (Ancient Forest)
- Protectors (Wildspire Waste)
- Troupers (Coral Highlands)
- Plunderers (Rotten Vale)
- Gajalaka (Elder’s Recess)
For anyone not sure how to befriend each tribe, try our Palico Gadgets guide for further details, then head back to this guide when you’re ready to proceed to the next step.
After unlocking the Palico Gadget for the first four regions (Ancient Forest, Wildspire Waste, Coral Highlands, Rotten Vale) players will end up on a Critical Bounty called Cultural Exchange: Gajalaka Linguistics, and then Cultural Exchange: Gajalaka Linguistics II by speaking to the Lynian Researcher. When I arrived in the Elder's Recess to complete Cultural Exchange: Gajalaka Linguistics II, my Palico wanted to speak to me and the game informed me about the Raider Ride and how I'd unlocked it. If this doesn't happen for you, be sure to continue with the process of befriending all Grimalkyne Tribes, including the one in Hoarfrost Reach.
There will now be three things you need to do in order to unlock the Tailraider Signal, the final Palico Gadget you should need if you've been following this guide. Speak to the Lynian Researcher (probably located in Seliana at this point) to get the next few instructions. If this doesn't work, load into an expedition on Hoarfrost Reach and visit the Lynian Researcher there. Once you have the quest steps, visit the Resource Center any time to see them listed under Critical Bounties, but you can also look at the list below:
- Hunt a large monster in Hoarfrost Reach
- Attend the Boaboa council meeting in their lair
- Complete a quest called By Our Powers Combined
Once all these steps are done the Raider Ride should be unlocked as should the Tailraider Signal, and then it’s on to your next adventure. Visit our Monster Hunter World: Iceborne topic to see all our guides and news, keeping you current on all things important to a Hunter.
Bill, who is also known as Rumpo, is a lifelong gamer and Toronto Maple Leafs fan. He is known for his guide writing and, unsettlingly enough, enjoys grinding out in-depth collectible articles. Tweet him @RumpoPlays if you have a question or comment about one of his guides.
By reputation, Arabians are known to be hot-headed. They were bred as warhorses with speed, endurance, and strength. But many Arabians are quiet and trustworthy. And a quiet horse is less likely to spook in startling situations. Generally, geldings (castrated adult males) are the calmest and make the best beginner horse.
Height: 14 hands (56 inches) to 16 hands (64 inches)
Weight: 800 to 1,000 pounds
Physical Characteristics: Compact body wedge-shaped head short back with sloping shoulders and powerful hindquarters
From poles, you will move to caveletti—poles that are raised a few inches off of the ground. Again, you'll trot and canter over these as your horse moves with greater impulsion to lift itself over these tiny jumps. Once you're secure going over the caveletti the next step will be a small cross rail. This will be just high enough to encourage your horse to actually jump, rather than step over the rails. As you approach this cross rail, it's important to keep your seat securely in the saddle. Look forward beyond the jump at where you want to go after you land. Dropping your head to look affects the horse's balance. Your coach will help you learn to gauge where to ask your horse to take off from—roughly the same distance from the jump as it is high. As the horse lifts its forequarters over the rail, you will lift yourself up into two-point and let your hands go forward up your horse's neck—a movement called the “release," so you don't inadvertently bump it's mouth or use the reins to hold yourself up with. A horse needs to stretch its neck out as it jumps to help it balance, and you don't want to interfere with this (you will momentarily have no contact with the bit).
As you land, sit gently down in the saddle, and bring your hands back to the normal position. Be sure not to fold your legs back or push them forward. Your leg position should not change greatly from riding on the flat.
After you have mastered a small line of cross rails, you will gradually increase the height of the jumps. As you become skilled at riding jumps in an arena or ring, you will graduate to riding different types of jumps, including oxers (jumps that are two or three rails wide), water jumps, and other more complicated and intimidating (at least for the horse) types of jumps. Jumping cross country or field hunting is even more challenging as you learn to deal with distractions and solid jumps that don't fall down if your horse hits them.