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[RC] Starting young horses on the trail - Beth Leggieri

Our homebred colt will be coming home from the trailer on New Year's Day.  How exciting is that?  A new year and a "new start" with the youngster first "envisioned" five years ago!
For those of you who have bred your own mounts, I'd love to hear your suggestions and observations about moving your youngster through the trail training experiences.  I plan to get him out as quickly as possible, pending the trainer's final observations.  Following are my plans at present, and I'm curious if they dovetail with the successful efforts of those who started their own mounts. 
He will have had 60 days with a professional trainer, moving nicely under saddle.  He will have been out on the trail only a few times before he comes home but will have had some very good desensitization (the trainer has worked with police horses and has some awesome obstacles he puts the horses through).
His breeding:  75% Arab (Crabbet/Polish) with some dynamite performance Arabs in his lineage and 25% stockhorse ("real" QH/APHA with performance backgrounds and a dash of TB).  He will be 4 in April. 
We will take him with a very solid "role model" who is a retired endurance horse--non-spooky and bold/forward.  I expect to keep his first 90 days very quiet and controlled, limited to walking and brain/emotion training for trail hazards with just one other horse.   Eventually we will add in other horses, but in a quiet situation.  A local trail ride service owner (who rode endurance in Spain before she emigrated) has agreed that we can ride along with her string, which I hope will provide a quiet group situation with seasoned been there/done that horses (who are *not deadheads* but sensible, experienced horses). The trail is along a lake (exposure to drinking from natural lakes in "iffy" footing) and contains a tunnel, some nice grade over dry creeks, and many of the typical trail obstacles encountered.  This is at a state park with lots of Boy Scout troops (the scariest obstacle?), children camping with parents, etc.    
I do not expect to allow speed in the immediate future, concentrating on emotional maturity.  I do not plan to start distance training with him until he's had lots of overnight camping, trail exposure, and a variety of other experiences (including pushing cows, hauling to local rodeos and just "standing around" with the hullabaloo, etc.). 
I would love to hear what worked for you and perhaps what you wish you would have done "differently".
And -- at what point did you deem the young horse ready for his first ride "by himself" -- ???

Hideaway Farm, Jim & Beth Leggieri, Denton, TX
Athletes of Antiquity: Soaring Wings and Distance Arabians


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