Choosing the Right Horse for Happy Trails

Follow these tips when searching for the best four-legged trail riding partner.

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Choosing the Right Horse for Happy Trails
From the backyard ride to a 100-mile endurance race, trail riding can encompass a wide range of activities. | Photo: iStock

Tips for finding your best four-legged trail riding partner

The phrase “trail ride” brings to mind different things to different people. For one person it could be a relaxing afternoon ride sightseeing for a few hours in the rolling hills, while for another it’s a strenuous race stretching well beyond daylight hours and covering dozens of miles of sometimes-treacherous countryside. These pursuits require mounts to be sound and sure-footed, but for recreational trail riding, competitive trail, and endurance riding, certain equine traits rise to importance for each discipline, ranging from disposition to build. So how do you decide which prospects to pursue?  

We asked Greg Fellers, DVM, of Seal Beach, California, who serves as a judge for the North American Trail Riding Conference, and recreational trail riding veterinarian Chris Coudret, DVM, of London, Ohio, to share their tips on picking your best trail partner.

“You really do have a whole spectrum of involvement in trail riding,” says Fellers. “You might have someone who just rides out onto their property or into a park and may not ever get past a walk. Then the next person might be doing a competitive trail ride or a 100-mile endurance race. The key is to match the horse’s abilities with the desires of that rider.” Regardless of your goals, a few tips apply across all types of trail riding, Fellers says

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Written by:

Connie Lechleitner is a freelance writer who lives in New Philadelphia, Ohio. She has worked in the equine association industry and has been a horse owner and breeder for many years.

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