Happy Trails to You

To the uninitiated, horses can be intimidating creatures. Although horses vary in size, a healthy horse at a height of 13 hands (52 inches) weighs an average of 760 pounds. 

So why should you hop on a horse? Despite their intimidating size, horses and humans have been partners for nearly 5,500 years. If you’re like me (horseless, unfortunately), a great way to experience horseback riding is to go on a trail ride at a stable. Trail rides provide a new perspective on the landscape, and like all silent sports, they offer riders the opportunity to unplug and relax in nature. 

If you still aren’t persuaded, consider the four common misconceptions about trail rides that I’ve addressed below. Perhaps your hesitation will melt away.

1) You must have prior experience with horses to go on a trail ride. 

There’s a first time for everything! Every stable that offers trail rides values the safety of its guests and horses, so staff members will always provide detailed instruction before you get on your horse. You’ll learn how to sit, hold your reins and issue vocal commands before you go out on trail. Additionally, most barns pair newbies with horses that are especially calm and easy to ride. When you get out on the trail, a trail guide will accompany you and be available to answer questions. As long as you arrive ready to listen and learn, you don’t need to have any prior horse experience to enjoy a trail ride. 

2) You can’t take older people or kids on the trail. 

Although age restrictions vary from place to place, most stables allow kids who are at least six or seven to go out on trail rides. Other than that, if you’re healthy and in good shape, you could ride until you’re a hundred. Horses are great for all ages. 

3) Your horse could suddenly decide to go rogue! 

As is true of all animals, horses are never completely predictable, so there’s always a slight risk that they may behave unexpectedly. Before you go on a trail ride, you’ll sign a waiver and be outfitted with a helmet, just in case. That being said, stables put only well-trained, calm horses out on the trail with guests. These horses are accustomed to the trails and to carrying strangers, and they can be trusted to listen to cues and behave. 

4) Trail rides are bumpy and uncomfortable. 

For trail rides, most barns use Western saddles, which were developed with days-long horseback trips in mind. In contrast to the English saddle, the Western saddle is larger and has more padding. And, if you’re not keen on trying out a horse’s trot – the faster and bouncier gait – take a walk-only trail ride. The comfortable sway of a horse’s walk feels like an oblong figure eight. 

A trail ride is the perfect way to familiarize yourself with humans’ other best friend. Besides, there’s nothing like weaving your way through the landscape on horseback and feeling like a bona fide cowgirl. 

To take a trail ride on horseback in Door County, visit the trails at Kurtz Corral, 5712 Howard Lane in Sturgeon Bay. Learn more at or by calling 920.743.6742. 

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