Thursday, July 26, 2012

Importance of the Trail Ride

  In America, the 1800’s saw the rise of the automobile and the decline of the horse since machinery could be made to go faster and produce more work than the horse. Machinery was rated in “Horsepower” so one could know how many horses that machine could replace, it’s a rude brush off to an animal that has served us so well for thousands of years.  If not for the horse, humans wouldn't be as advanced as we are now, in fact, we may not have been around as a species. Horses helped us pull the plow; bring produce to market, traverse longer distances traveling faster than we could have on foot.  The horse also helped us hunt for food and aid us in times of war, and entertained us with racing or other equitation sports.

  The future of the horse is uncertain.  As urban sprawl spreads across the United States, there are less and less areas that horses are accepted in.  People in general are not opposed to horses, just as long as they don’t have to live next to one.  Areas that once had horses for sale or rent have had housing developments encroach upon them.  Once the homes appear it’s not long before the horses are forced out by complaints from homeowners who find the smell offensive, which begs the question, why move next to a horse farm or stable?  Other reasons are monetary: horse stables aren’t exactly money makers; at least those that cater to those without deep pockets
  The modern day horse has survived purely as a pleasure animal (at least in the United States).  There are people who use horses to compete in events such as Dressage and Jumping events, or more Western events such as team roping, and there are those who just want a horse for a quiet trail ride.  Another niche that the horse has filled in recent years is therapy.  For children with special needs, and adults that are injured or disabled, the horse has been key in improving their quality of life.  Better balance, coordination, and muscle development are all benefits from riding a horse, and for those who are incredulous about the muscle development have never ridden a horse: five minutes cantering on a horse will leave you winded if you’re not accustom to riding.
Neapolitan Horse (extinct)

  Will there always be horses?  It seems doubtful that horses could become extinct, but there are species of horse that are no longer with us such as the Galloway pony, Mazury and the Yorkshire Coach Horse as well as many more.  The Shire is a draft horse developed in Europe and is at risk due to lack of breeders, and there are some that are even worse off with only 100 breeding pair left making them akin to the Giant Panda.

  This brings us to the importance of rental horses and riding stables.  For most of the public, rental stables are the only way to experience trail riding without buying a horse.  In the good-old-days stables would give you a horse, help you into the saddle, and you were on your own, and unless you were a little horse savvy, you may have had a good ride or a harrowing experience depending on the horse.  Most modern horseback riding stables use guides to make the experience more enjoyable and to provide safety during the ride in case of unforeseen events.  For all, the experience leaves a lasting impression, and for some it may lead to horse ownership, which promotes the horse industry, for without horse owners the horse in all its varieties would fade forever.  One horse trainer said that the horse it a mirror to the soul.  Having owned one myself I can tell you it’s that and much much more, but you’ll never know unless you come out and ride the trail.