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March 3, 2016


"To me, nature is sacred.  Trees are my temples and forests are my cathedrals." - Mikhail Gorbachev


I don't consider myself religious. But if trees are temples and forests are cathedrals, then, wouldn't that make our horses are our priests? I have always told people I don't need to go to church, because my church is on the back of a horse. It's where I am most present; most at peace and where I feel connected to God (interpret that word how you will).  Our horses lead us down the sacred trails, just as a priest would guide a parishioner down a spiritual path. And, I cannot imagine a better partner to worship with than a Standardbred.


I’ve mentioned before that I was introduced to the breed at YMCA Camp Weona, where many of our trail horses were Standardbreds. In my opinion, they made exceptional trail horses! They are bred to be athletes, possessing stamina and endurance. They typically have a sturdy frame and excellent hooves. Those who have trained to race have been exposed to many situations, making them unflappable.  Good, level-headed brains have seemingly been bred into these guys.  Even my two year old gelding has a high level of common sense and he isn't in formal training.  What else could one want from a trail mount?


In an article titled Finding Your Perfect Trail Horse by Jennifer Nice on horsechannel.com, the author suggests the following attributes in a trail mount:


  • He must be patient. A horse that is in a hurry, is antsy or won’t stand still is annoying.

  • He must be willing to lead, follow or go his own way, when necessary.

  • He must be willing to drink whatever water is available to him.

  • He must like to travel, enjoy going to new places and seeing new country.

  • He must be social and get along with other horses. A trail ride is no place for a horse that kicks, bites or generally dislikes other horses.

  • He must willingly go over, under or around whatever is before him.

  • He must never jump what he is able to step over.

  • He must be willing to jump what he cannot step over.

  • He must accept encounters with things he has never seen before as a routine part of his job.

  • He must have a very low flight response. Some horses will spin and bolt at the slightest sound or sight. They act first, ask questions later, which is not a desirable characteristic of a trail horse.

  • He must accept flapping jackets and the rattle of plastic bags.

  • And last, but not least, you must like him and he must genuinely seem to like you. The two of you are going to be spending a lot of time together. It’s important that you get along with each other.


In reading that list, I believe Standardbreds hit the mark on most, if not all items.  And, they are such great students, that any qualities they may not possess, they can be taught.  So, if you don’t already have a Standardbred trail partner, you should definitely consider one!


Read full article referenced above at: http://www.horsechannel.com/horse-exclusives/finding-perfect-trail-horse.aspx