The Benefits of Trail Riding for Any Discipline

By The TPH Blog Editor SARAH WELK BAYNUM

Trail riding is a great way to get break out of your regular riding routine in the arena. It’s also mentally stimulating for both horse and rider to explore the outdoors together.

Plus, it’s a fun and low key way to get off property if you don’t have trails on your property.

But there a few benefits trail riding has that are hard to beat when it comes to improving your relationship with your horse, among other things.

And when you build that relationship with your horse, it has a butterfly affect that could really benefit you the next time you work on training in the arena, or at the next horse show.

Breakaway From the Routine

Trail riding is fun, especially when you go out in a group with other horse and riders.

But more importantly, it’s a much different experience than the daily grind of training that horses and riders can easily fall into. Sometimes even when we don’t mean to, our riding routine can be predictable and monotonous to our horses.

When out on the trial, the new scenery around every bend helps break up the mundane riding routine and can really be beneficial mentally for both horse and rider to freshen things up.

Riding Uneven Terrain

Eventers know the benefit of getting on uneven terrain and mastering skills like going up and down hills.

But tackling the challenges of uneven terrain, crossing water, and balancing your horse when they’re going up and down hills are skills every horse and rider can benefit from.

This is because riding on uneven terrain is a learning experience, and a test, of one of the most important skills any riding discipline requires—rideability.

After navigating some of these trickier terrain areas of a trail, you’ll probably find your horses rideability is that much better once you step back into the riding arena.

Riding uneven terrain is also a great way to increase you and your horse’s fitness level.

Experiencing New Scenery

If your trails aren’t located at your barn, this is a great way to get your horse on the trailer and go somewhere new without the pressure of attending a horse show.

Bridges, creek crossings, spooky looking rocks, animals rustling around in the bushes next to the trail—the list goes on. Exposing your horse to things outside a normal riding arena is a great way to help for horses to experience new sights, smells, and sounds in a low key environment.

This has a number of benefits, including the most important benefit of trail riding—trust.

Trust Building

Trail riding is kind of like taking your horse to one of those team building company retreats.

When in the arena, things are fairly predicable. But out on the trails, horse and rider can really work on building their bond of trust.

When you ask your horse to do something they are unsure of, you are asking them to trust you. When they cross that scary bridge and nothing bad happens on the other side, that continues to build trust between a horse and their rider.

Riders can also benefit from this trust building. Many trails have steeper hills, or areas that are challenging to cross. This requires the rider to trust the horse to get them across safely and helps build a bond of trust both ways.