Western Trail Riding
Did you grow up watching Westerns as a kid? Have you ever found yourself longing to hit the open trail, to gallop along like Clint Eastwood or John Wayne from infamous Hollywood flicks? If so, then a western trail riding experience may be right for you.
Western trail riding uses a Western saddle and bridle.
The Western saddle features a deep seat, high cantle, saddle horn, and large saddle flaps. As seen in Westerns, a Western saddle is a cowboy’s “saddle of choice.” It is very comfortable and suited for riders interested in taking longer trail rides. However, a Western saddle weighs significantly more than an English saddle.
English trail riding uses an English saddle.
An English saddle is smaller than a Western saddle. It features a flatter seat, lower cantle, lighter weight, and doesn’t have a saddle horn. Generally speaking, the English saddle is designed for shorter rides; however, it is available in a wide variety of styles, which makes it a popular choice for many riders.
Endurance trail riding is a specific discipline within the horseback riding sport.
As the name suggests, this type of trail riding is completed by riders interested in completing endurance competitions. Endurance trail riding has a specific set of tack, including a special saddle, that is designed for both rider and horse comfort during extended trail rides.
What To Expect From A Western Trail Ride:
A “Western trail ride,” simply refers to going on a trail ride on a horse who is wearing Western tack. As mentioned previously, the Western saddle is designed for rider comfort. The Western saddle uses a thick wool saddle pad to protect the horse. Depending on the horse, a rope or leather girth will be used. Finally, the horse will wear a Western bridle (with a bit) or a Western hackamore.
There are a wide variety of horses who are trained for Western trail rides. Popular breeds include: Mustang crosses, Quarter Horses, Saddlebreds, Draft crosses, Morgans, and Warmbloods. Strong horses with wide backs are able to carry the additional weight and width of the Western saddle. With this in mind, the saddle should be properly fitted before you head out on the trail. The horse’s withers shouldn’t be pinched, his shoulders should be able to move freely, and the saddle should fit squarely on his back without tipping forward or backwards. Saddle pads can be used to correct the fit of the saddle.
During a Western trail ride you can and should expect to have fun. Whether you are headed out into the woods, planning on riding through a valley, or interested in trekking through a local mountain range, a Western trail ride is designed to be enjoyable for both rider and horse. Your chosen steed should be sure footed and in good shape. If you are planning on going on a long trail ride, then you should plan on rest and water breaks, where you can dismount and remove the saddle from your horse’s back, and let him enjoy a nice long drink of water. Finally, Western trail rides can be enjoyed by riders of all experience levels. Whether you are a beginner rider or a seasoned equestrian, a Western trail ride is the perfect chance to enjoy time with your horse and fellow equestrians away from the hustle and bustle of the barn.