There are many exercises that are taught in the arena, that are very useful on the trail. The exercises teaches you and the horse. These exercises give you control of the horse's body parts, so you are able to control the horse better. You cannot learn them on the trail, you need to practice them in a safe environment at home where your horse is calm and practice them until you no longer have to think how to do it, it just comes naturally. This article tells you what they are, the next article will explain how to do them.
On the trail there are many obstacles and situations that are encountered. The better you can control your horse's body parts, the better you can control what he does when he reacts to something. If you are not able to control his body parts, it can easily go from a good situation to a bad one in seconds.
You will see many good riders can deal with horses that are acting up, and look like they are easily containing the horse's energy, They did not learn this overnight, they are able to do this because they have years of practicing these maneuvers. You will also see many riders that have no clue what to do and see something that was controllable go to an uncontrollable situation. Don't be one of these riders.
Trail riding is a hard and dangerous sport. So try to learn these exercises and be able to perform them well before you start trail riding. Then when a situation comes up, you will be able to think of an exercise that would help the situation and be able to perform it. This will keep you and your horse out of trouble.
Turn on the forehand- horse's front legs stay still, horse pivots on front legs and back legs move over until you are turned the opposite direction. . By your horse pivoting, he is using less room to turn around, which will help you to turn around on a single track and not fall off the trail. By moving his back feet, you can prevent the horse from running off or rearing if he starts acting up, yet you are still in control as you are only moving his hind legs.
Turn on the haunches- horses back feet stay still, horse pivots on back legs and front legs move around till facing opposite direction. This is what the Reiners are doing when they do a spin. This exercise is helpful on the trail. If you know how to do this, you can block your horse from spinning around when he spooks. It can help you to turn on a single track to go the other way without falling off the trail. It also helps you get around S turns trails, since your horse knows how to move his shoulders over, he will turn better.
Side pass- move your horse sideways at a stand still. Many people struggle with gates, and gates are dangerous. Many people fall off going through gates. If your horse knows how to side pass, you can get safely next to the gate, open it, go through and close it, because he understands how to move sideways off your leg. Yet many trail riders have no idea how to do this. If your horse is dancing around on the trail while you wait for your friends, you can practice your side pass, it gives your horse something to do with his energy, but yet you are in the same place waiting for your friends.
Back up- I would never go on trail with a horse that does not know how to back up. It is not natural for the horse to back up, so you need to teach it. Why? There are so many times you need to back up on the trail without falling off the trail. A biker is blocking the trail, you have to back up to get around the biker. A tree is down, you have to back up to find a way around it, or to give your horse a better approach. The footing just gave out under the lead horses feet. You need to back up, so they can get onto good footing. Your horse is pulling on your reins, you need to back up to get him to give to your reins and teach him to stop pulling.
Serpentine- Gives your horse something to do if he is rushing home. Gives you space between the horse in front of you so you are not riding up on its trail. Helps a horse get down a hill that is having issues with steep hills. A serpentine makes going down a hill easier and less scary and will build your horse's confidence.
So practice these exercises over and over again, so when a situation happens you will be able to get yourself and your horse safely out of it.