Some people get into riding horses for competition and showing. They get started by finding a barn specializing in their intended discipline that provides lessons. Others just like the idea of exploring trails, forests, and mountains with a horse as companion. Because trail riding is usually less structured, many of those interested in it presume they can just get on a horse and go — it's a little more complicated than that and not like driving a car or a motorcycle, because this vehicle has its own brain.
For new riders, most of the ride will be at the walk, but may also include a slow trot. And truth be told, new riders would not enjoy a fast trot, canter, or gallop where they would find themselves bouncing around with a high risk of falling off, and worse, at speed. Of course, if you have friends that ride and have an extra horse, that can also work, but you should be on a quiet, preferably older horse that's content to walk. At Foothills Ranch our older, experienced horses are also much less likely to spook because they "know the ropes" and are familiar with the sounds and sights of the trail. And you? You want to take in the beauty of nature around you and just enjoy the feeling of partnering with a beautiful and powerful animal beneath that's able to effortlessly carry you up hills and along the trails. Our trail rides in the beautiful Arizona scenery are a great place for new trail riders to learn.
Trail riding requires it's own expertise and skills that can rival the requirements of other disciplines — each discipline requires learning and practicing its required skills to be a competent and safe rider. Shifting your weight left and right down the trail at a canter as you and your horse quickly weave your way between trees and brush dodging branches, scrambling up steep hills, and jumping over obstacles, such as fallen trees, requires good balance, skill, and control of and a mutual partnering with your horse — this is advanced riding and not the place for an untrained beginner! And because of their herd mentality, horses want to move as a unit. If one rider in a group breaks into a gallop, almost assuredly, the other horses will try to follow — and they know how to run. For the beginner, that's a recipe for disaster because they can't control their horse and can't ride the faster gaits nor negotiate trail obstacles and other dangers. It's definitely not a good idea for beginners to go trail riding alone nor with experienced riders wanting to ride the faster gaits.
Trail riding is the most exhilarating way to ride a horse. And the relationship that has developed between my horse and me was a wonderful surprise I never anticipated. But you want to work your way up to it, learn how to ride properly, and always wear proper safety equipment, such as a helmet and riding boots. Trail riding is all about freedom, exploring nature's beauty, and partnering with a wonderful four-legged friend that will watch out for you while you watch out for him.
See you on our trails!