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What Kind of Trail Rider are YOU?

Original version written by Jennifer Forsberg Meyer / Illustration by Michael Witte

This article was featured in the April 2007 Horse & Rider magazine. A friend of mine sent it to me and I thought it was so good, I had to post in on my site.....with some modifications.

So let's begin. Of the categories that follow, which trail rider ARE YOU? ;-)

THE WRECK-IN-WAITING: Catchphrase: "Let's go!"
You are super-enthusiastic about trail riding, but somewhat less so about the nitty-gritty details thereof. You haven't been able to prepare your horse very much for this particular ride, but at least you are pretty sure he's been out on the trail before. (Actually, you've only owned him a week. Still, your faith in him is rock solid. He's such a sweetie.) You haven't had a chance to buy him his own bridle yet, but you do have an old one that fits him, sort of (and it's only cracked a little). One of his shoes is a teensy bit loose, but you know someone will have one of those easy boot-things if it does come off. You arrive at the staging area totally pumped, but without a water bottle. Plus, you really thought you had more gas in your tank than that. You make a mental note to have someone follow you out on the way home, and go in search of things to borrow.

THE TIMID 'N TERRIFIED: Catchphrase: "Can someone help me?!"
You love your horse but are intimidated by him, and it shows in your permanently ashen-faced countenance. He's the nervous type, constantly jigging and calling, and you're at a loss as to how to make him stop. You seem to need help with everything, be it tying safely or just leading your antsy horse to water. On the trail, you are reluctant to take side trips or do anything out of the ordinary, preferring to stick to the main, well-traveled trail. Midway through the ride, your nerves are shot and you start hinting to others about turning back. Your riding partners are contemplating passing the hat to enable you to take a few lessons to improve your horsemanship and confidence. Your chronic discomfort is a drag on the whole group.

THE 'ALL-ABOUT-ME' PAL: Catchphrase: "I've got it all."
You are a bold, confident rider and eager to let others know it. You insist on riding in front ("my horse prefers it") and you are not bashful about grabbing the best resting spot or campsite at every stop. Your horse is defensive and know to have kicked in the past, but you prefer not to so identify him that way. You keep telling everyone that he is "fine..just a little grouchy today." You have strong opinions about everything, and aren't afraid to express them. you hate to compromise about the day's itinerary, and will promote your preference doggedly until everyone else caves in. you encourage others to stick it out when you want to keep going, but insist that the group stop to rest whenever YOU are tired. You are generous with advice, even when unasked. On the trail and during breaks and meals, you talk nonstop about yourself, your horse, your prior riding experiences, your job, your family......

THE BOY/GIRL SCOUT: Catchphrase: "Be prepared."
Your are known for your scrupulous planning and gracious manners. You've researched the area of the ride in advance and so you know it's something you and your horses can easily manage. Your horse is well-prepared for the ride, in good shape, and has recently tended feet. You're wearing gear appropriate for any possible weather changes (you googled it in advance) and you've brought plenty of water and bug spray. In preparing for the trip, you used your well-developed checklist to make sure nothing was forgotten or overlooked. You have a basic first-aid kit, human and equine, that you carry in your saddle bags, and a more comprehensive one in your trailer or truck. You carry a cell phone on you and have emergency numbers on speed dial. You are the one everyone calls first when rounding up a trail riding party.

BUBBLY BEGINNER : Catchphrase: "No Worries!"
You are known for being bubbly, fun to be around and a source of laughter. But even the most fun-loving person has his/her pitfalls. Because you are spontaneous, you tend to 'fly by the seat of your pants' and leave details to last, if remembered at all. The term "Ignorance is bliss" fits you. You are fairly new to riding and not only are you oblivious to the dangers, but find those that are overly prepared tend to be a bit "stuffy" and "worry too much." You love to canter and go fast, but that's only because you haven't fallen off yet - experience is wisdom and you are lacking in that department. Even still, your fellow riding buddies, enjoy your company and try to insert a bit of warning along the way. Your cheerful manner is easy to put up with in spite of the liability you present.....they hope by inviting you more you will become more horse savvy.

PARELLI WANNA-BE: Catchphrase: "Technique is everything"
You live, breathe and talk natural horsemanship. You are skilled and your horse is well behaved. You use EVERY opportunity on the trail to teach your horse and talk about the "whys" and "how comes" of natural techniques to others, even if you feel they aren't "getting it." Your buddies are repeatedly interrupted on the trail so you can 'train.' --- but you know they understand since everyone wants to ride with someone that has their horse under control, right? However, Although your buddies are impressed with your knowledge and your horse's impeccable manners and skills, they decide to leave you at home next time and catch up with you at the next Parelli Clinic.

The Great Pretender: Catchphrase: "Everything is just fine!"
You don't like to draw attention to yourself or your horse, God forbid if anyone should see you sweat! You have overcome alot in your brief time with horses, but you don't give yourself enough credit for the things you know and you often lack self esteem. This surprises many of those that get to know you. Inspite of your secret fears, you tackle them bravely rather than let them consume you. (Even when common sense and your horse's bug eyes are telling you differently. ) Onlookers admire your strength. As with any "persona" there are pitfalls and that is when you try to push too hard when you (and sometimes your horse) aren't ready. You find yourself with more than your share of injuries, but you spring back like a rubber ball - and outwordly smile in the face of danger. Deep down you question your ability, but your love for riding always wins out and heck, a few injuries gives you something to brag about to coworkers. ;-) You don't want to appear 'weak, helpless or in need." and may even have blisters on your A%*S and still say, "I AM just fine, let's ride another 10 miles!!" For this reason, you are a joy to be around and well liked, but you aren't being true to yourself or your buddies. You may even feel that your inner fears and anxiety will disappear if you pretend they don't exist. With a little confidence though, you have potential to be a true Girl Scout!

DO IT RIGHT - tips for becoming a savvy trail rider

To become more like the scout-savvy rider, follow these tips:

  • Be aware of the terrain to be traversed on the ride, and prepare for it in advance if need be to boost yours and your horse's confidence. (Will there be water crossings? If so, practice ahead of time)
  • Establish solid whoa, go, turn, and 'wait" controls on your horse before you go out on the trail. Don't expect to school your horses in the midst of a group of horses, in a new environment.
  • Condition your horse for the amount and type of riding you'll be asking of him. if the longest you've ridden at one time is 2 hours, don't expect him to go all day without build up to it gradually.
  • Check that his feet/shoes are in good shape. Schedule an appointment with your farrier before the ride if need be.
  • Safety-check your equipment, and make sure you'll have everything you will need for the type of trip you are taking. For overnite stays, especially, work from a detailed 'don't forget" list, cross-referencing your list with those of more experienced riding buddies if need be.
  • Check the weather and the condition of the trail in question to verify that your chosen date is a good time to go.
  • Plan your own apparel according to the weather and other needs of the trip. ie good shoes, sunscreen.
  • Plan ahead to provide water for yourself and your horse.
  • Check that your hauling rig is in safe, well-maintained condition and capable of making it to and from the trail head. Fill up your gas tanks.
  • Make sure you know the others you'll be riding with and trust their horsemanship and common sense.
  • On the trail, keep your horse at least a horse's length away from the horse in front of you, and encourage the rider in back of you to do the same.
  • If you horse has any propensity to kick at other horses, signal this with a red ribbon in his tail so others know to stay back.
  • Remember always that trail riding with others requires all the courtesies appropriate for any group endeavor. Be considerate, unselfish, and willing to be part of a democratic process in decision making.










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