Some horse sense about trail riding

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 1, 2009

By Steve Huffman
A trail-class clinic drew nine riders ó from children to adults ó to Ellis Park Saturday, participants getting instruction on how to handle their horses should they encounter problems while riding through woods and the like.
“Lots of times, riders see situations on trails that might give them problems,” said Tim Potter, district equine specialist for the N.C. Cooperative Extension Service. “We’re just trying to get them acquainted with situations they might encounter out there.”
Riders rode through planks, the boards simulating a bridge the steeds might be called upon to cross.
The horses also negotiated a series of traffic cones, representing trees or similar obstacles the animals might one day encounter on a trail or at a show.
Saturday’s clinic was sponsored by the Rowan Advisory Council for Equestrian 4-H Clubs. The event was also intended to help riders desensitize their horses and communicate with them in such a way to decrease their apprehension of negotiating obstacles.
Organizers said the clinic emphasized safety.
Sara Drake, an extension agent for the Cooperative Extension Service, said the Rowan Advisory Council for Equestrian 4-H Clubs sponsors an average of two to three clinics a year.
Group members also lead a couple of annual horse show.
Saturday’s event marked the first time they’d held a clinic pertaining to trail riding.