What’s a trail ride?

Growing up, I was lucky to experience three different things.  I took lessons at Hunter/Jumper facilities, which I loved because it got me horse time.  I went on trail rides, which had some entertainment value and sometimes the opportunity to pick up the pace.  And then I had riding lessons on the trail, which were totally different.  It was these lessons on the trail, as opposed to lessons at a “proper horse facility” that gave me a taste for what my future did behold.

At a Horse Facility, you’ll find all matter of approaches to riding.  What’s consistent is a riding arena, a hot walker and a barn with stables.  At Maverick Riding, we have pastures, woods, water features and horses that understand their job: Listen to beginners, but not too much or too quickly.  And that’s what makes what we offer NOT a trail ride.

There are two ways to do a trail ride: One, you already know how to ride and you have your own horse or good friends who trust you with theirs.  You get together with a group and ride from point A to point B.  There is no instruction, you tack your own horse, you know how to jump off if you need to bail.  Your horse will be very responsive, so if you give a little squeeze with your legs, your horse will go faster.  If you lean forward, your horse may go faster if it’s been trained to respond to a forward seat movement as a “pick it up” cue.  Some horses respond to leaning back as an invitation to pick up the pace.

The other way to do a Trail Ride if you are a public rider without your own horse is to find a company that regularly provides the public with “horses.”  I say this in quotations because as all of the horse riding community knows, these animals have been trained out of the very thing that makes horses fun.  These horses are taught to either follow single file, or to be gently “herded” as a group.  These horses are unresponsive, and it takes some panache to get them to go off the trail!

Having done lessons at facilities, barns and stables, as well as public trail rides, I felt like there was something missing from my experiences.  It wasn’t until I ran into two trainers in NC and one trainer in Costa Rica that my perception of riding changed, and brought back fond memories of myself as a student rider aged 4-7 on backwoods trails, learning how to ride.

There are wonderful benefits to having an arena, stables and hot walker.  For us though, we find them unnecessary.  Our horses live on open land, ranging where they please.  We ensure that our horses understand that their job is to listen to beginners who follow the fundamentals of riding, which we teach before mounting and throughout the ride.  If you can set a clear goal, sit up straight, keep your heels down and your hands off the horse and off the saddle, keep those hands in ready position, a pure beginner can take a horse on a trail that he or she sets in his or her head.

Like the concept of a lesson on the trail but a little nervous of the prospect of being in charge of an animal that is known to be potentially dangerous?  We will help develop your independent seat with good foot position and confident hands with contact on the horse while we lead you along.  You can take your time to get comfortable and when you are ready, we will get you steering while still on a long line.  Then when you want to take it to the next level, we will hand you your line!  Done and Done!

Advanced rider and you don’t want a lesson?  Just want to ride?  That’s just not part of what we offer.  If you are advanced enough that you can teach a horse to round out, collect, pick up its leads and identify which saddles fit the horse, then we will bring you out as a working student and pay you as an independent contractor for the session.  We do occasionally trailer to Houston, Killeen, Bastrop and other parks for trail rides.  Call for more information!

Looking for a horse rental?  We will deliver horses to your site, park, riding facility or stables.  You must have your own insurance.  The rate is $800 for the day, plus transportation fee.

Want to ride one time?  No problem.  Want to ride every week?  Great!  You’ll enjoy discounted rates.

It doesn’t take much perusing through our reviews to learn that our primary concern is rider safety, followed by horse health and safety, followed by education and THEN fun.  We LOVE to have fun.  We can get downright silly, but what’s most important is that we as riders are conscious of the partnership that exists between man and horse.  At Maverick Riding, we coach one-time and regular riders on developing, maintaining and improving this relationship, regardless of rider skill level.

Peace, Love, and Happy Trails Y’all!

–Joan Marie

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