There is an excellent blog post about trail horses by Christine Barakat called Building A Trustworthy Trail Horse. She quotes Dan Aadland, “Most people don’t select horses for trail riding,” says Montana horseman Dan Aadland, an avid backcountry rider and author of several books on the topic. “I get tired of hearing, ‘Well, she’s not good enough for the show ring, but she’ll make a good trail horse.’ Why should trail riding be relegated to a secondary job for a horse? If you want to trail ride exclusively, buy a horse who excels at it, not one who can’t do anything else.”
We could not agree more. Sound trail horses will do nearly anything and the notion that any horse can hit the trails defies logic and commonsense. You have to spend hours training a horse to run around a ring in circles, but expect him to confront countless new things on the trail without any preparation.
Barakat goes on to quotes Aadland, “Compounding the problem, says Aadland, is a tendency to overlook the importance of a trail-riding education: “We train horses for very specific arena jobs but expect them to just automatically know how to handle the trail. Then we get frustrated when they don’t. Horses need to be taught to trail ride just like they are taught reining, roping or any other skill.”
Take a look at her article! It is well written and thoughtful.