Trail skills you never see in a trail course

I was thinking the other day of one trail skill I end up teaching all my horses (usually as the need arises) that you never see on a trail course.

The ability to step on a branch trailing from another horse’s tail to pull it out.

Any other unsung trail skills out there.


Using odd stuff as a mounting block.


The “Duck the Angry Doe” obstacle. Every trail class should have this. Bonus points if there is more than one fawn involved in the fracas.


Picking ripe fruit from a tall tall


Nuns. They are apparently terrifying.

Playing fetch with a dropped glove or whip.

Grazing loose along the trail while you have a picnic lunch, and not taking off.

Crossing a footbridge with salmon jumping underneath.


I want to know how you teach them to step on the stick…


Having a one gallon milk jug or a bag of aluminum cans stuck on a hoof (this happened with two different horses).

How to ride your horse through/past:

Ground bees!

A group of bow hunters in full, crazy camo gear and back packs seemingly appearing out of thin air about 20 feet in front of you.


And my favorite: carrying a large cardboard box of kittens found dumped in the woods when you’re miles from home.


I work on teaching a “step” command, normally start with something like a low cut tree stump and then progress to a tarp, etc. Start going forward so it’s fairly simple, then work up to being able to sidepass to the exact spot I am looking for a foot to be.

That skill was more intended for other things (like stepping carefully one foot at a time into a difficult water crossing), but translated well to stepping on sticks!


Beer broke


Grazing long grass along the trail keeping walking


The “No Horse,You May Not Lose Your S**T Now” Skunk Encounter!

This happened to me Friday evening!


Lots of little brown birds on the ground so it looks like the ground is moving.


Followed by Stand Here Whilst I {ahem} offload That Beer :beer::smirk:


Walking past a pen of emus


Riding over a bridge with a train moving underneath :wink:


Riding under a highway overpass.


Standing still at the train crossing waiting for the train to pass.
Remaining calm when being chased by loose, barking dogs.
Riding through a cow tunnel ( :skull: )
Ignoring the deer that decide to ambush you from the reeds.
Standing still/ground tying while you dismount to remove an obstacle from the trail like a fallen log. On that note, standing still while you brush clear and chuck sticks and rocks off the path. I spend so much of my ride trail clearing every spring…

How do you teach one to snack without running off while you have lunch @Scribbler ?

I think my horse would draw the line at emus. He was great about the vultures that one year landed right in front of us in the corn field though! Having turkeys paid off.

I would like to teach my horse to be better about opening gates while you’re on his back. It’s complicated by the fact our gates are heavy and not easily movable.

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I spent a lot of time learning how to open arena gates at home but my preferred range country horse damping spot has barbed wired strand gates, so you have to get off. They can be really hard to fasten too.

Maresy and I go for lots of grass walks in the park at home, so she’s developed a feel for sticking near me while grazing. If there’s grass around the parking lot she will stick near the trailer fairly reliably.

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There was a camel one year at the Ludwig’s Corner Horse Show, as well as a 2 story high inflatable chipmunk, promoting Herr’s Potato Chips.

It made for an interesting show!


was not on a trail or trail class but there was a roller-coaster at one show grounds that you had to take the horses under to get to the show ring

We kept a horse in Kentucky specifically to be shown on the county fair show circuit as it was back then notorious for having all sorts of spinning whirling amusement rides next to show rings or all the way to the ring

Afterwards nothing phased that horse, a medical helicopter landed with thirty feet of her and she just said oh well and stood her ground. The horse later in life became a champion NATRC trail horse