We’ve had such a fun spring and summer at the club – chock full of memorable moments on the grass and arena, riding, drinking beers and cheering our teammates. The season has been a whirlwind, so it’s hard to believe that the brisk temperatures and gorgeous colors of fall are beckoning…but they are!

With golden leaves and cool, crisp mornings ahead, we’re looking forward to what many think is the most beautiful time of year at our facilities, and our favorite season for trail riding.

Why is trail riding so great? Well if you really have to ask…there are actually a ton of reasons why getting out in the wild can do even the hottest performance ponies a world of good. Here are just a few:

  • Desensitization & Confidence: Our off-season property at Cottonwood Riding Club backs up to one of the most beautiful expanses of wilderness that Colorado has to offer. Chatfield and the Highline Canal trail are bustling with exciting wildlife. Exposing your horse to the sights and sounds of nature untamed can help to strengthen her self-confidence and trust in you, and toughen her against distractions and spooks.
  • Great physical conditioning: In the same way that people can benefit from taking a hike or cross-training, polo ponies can get a great workout on the trail. Uneven ground offers new opportunities for muscle building that a flat arena or field can’t. Taking her up and down hills, over loose gravel and through water can increase her fitness and agility, and even improve her game.
  • Real world experience: Sometimes repetitive work in the arena leaves horses a little frustrated. In polo there are so many stops and turns and arena work can turn even the happiest ponies rather sour by season’s end. But practicing transitions and maneuvers on the trail over real, natural obstacles often makes a ton of sense to them. It can really send the message home and solidify all of that training.
  • A solution for the off-season: Some people give their horses the winter off because really, they need a break at the end of the season. But what if you want to stay in the saddle and keep both of you relatively fit (and really, who wouldn’t)? Well, you have to gauge your own pony, but a change can be as good as a rest. Take her out on the trail to challenge her in a fun way and give her something to think about other than repetitive ring work. It’s a great, healthy shift that puts ponies in a more natural environment and requires them to use their brains in different ways.

All in all, trail riding can help turn any performance horse into a well-rounded mount and better competitor. It’s good for their minds as well as their bodies. Not to mention, it’s just plain fun! So it’s no surprise that the trails are one of our favorite things about riding at here. Whenever you feel the call of the wild, all you need to do is saddle up and head out for some fresh air and adventure. Your pony(ies) will thank you.

See more blogs over the next three weeks with great off-season cross training ideas! And share what works for you!