View Full Version : Taking a horse for an afternoon ride

Sera Trevor
11-02-2014, 10:07 PM
I have had zero experience with horseback riding, and yet I must send my characters out on a ride. This is a problem.

In my story, the characters are going on a leisurely afternoon ride - say for a couple of hours. I kind of want them to go through some wooded areas. I want them to take a break at some point and dismount, but I'm not sure what that would look like. Could the horses graze, maybe drink some water out of a stream? I want my characters to have a chance to talk - how close would they have to stay to the horses? How long of a break do people generally take when out riding?

Is there anything else I need to take into consideration?

11-02-2014, 10:30 PM
Two hours or so and I don't tend to get off. Longer I'll get off for a few minutes every couple of hours and walk beside the horse to stretch my muscles.

Horses can graze and drink with the rider in the saddle and that's the norm. Riders usually ride side-by-side and chat as they are riding. A couple, interested in a more interactive sort of moment, would get off, but horses tend to be a limiting factor.

Horses trained to ground tie can be left for a limited period on their own, but trusting a horse to stay ground tied can leave you with a lot of walking. Normally you keep you hands on the horse's reins, which you flip over his head.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

Sera Trevor
11-02-2014, 11:05 PM
Thanks so much, Jim!

Deb Kinnard
11-03-2014, 12:19 AM
I was taught, if I was holding the horse by the reins, to hold them quite close to the bit. Of course, if I wanted to let the horse graze, and he's stronger than me so I often allowed it, I'd have to give him a longer rein.

Once one got his head in some tasty greens when I was dismounted on a trail. He simply wouldn't let the snack go. He wasn't having any of my ideas. I finally punched him in the head (no horses were harmed, however). That got his attention and got him back with the program.

I don't recommend horse-head-punching as a viable feature of horsemanship.

11-03-2014, 04:05 AM
Is your story set in the 21st century in the United States? If so, where in which state?

11-04-2014, 12:35 AM
In terms of how long off the horse - what is the weather and how hot and sweaty is the horse? If you have a hot and sweaty horse in a cold wind it can get a chill so you need to walk it around to keep it warm or have a blanket for it.

If they haven't ridden for a while they will be standing there going "ow, ow".

If a really tall horse may need a leg up to get back on, or stand on a fallen tree. Awkward horse with nervous rider may take a sideways step at a critical moment. And probably laugh a lot. I swear horses snigger.

Deb Kinnard
11-04-2014, 01:59 AM
I swear horses snigger.

Right? They DO! I've heard 'em do it, and then turn 'round and give you this big, innocent "who, me?" brown eye.

11-04-2014, 02:04 AM
[Somebody please tell me that you, too, glance at the subject line and see Talking horse...]

Deb Kinnard
11-04-2014, 03:38 PM
"Mr. Ed will never speak / unless he has something to say."

11-04-2014, 05:11 PM
A little more detail would be helpful. Is this a modern story? Are they riding English or Western? Grazing with a bit in is not a good idea, grass can get wrapped around the bit, the horse can have difficulty chewing with the bit in, they can choke. Some trail riding bridles are designed to just unclip the bit so the horse can graze. When I was going on long trail rides I would bridle over the halter and keep a lead rope tied around the horse's neck in a cavalry knot.


11-05-2014, 03:26 AM
As other's have said, location and era will help define the 'standard practice' of the day.

On very long trail rides, when we dismounted to picnic or eat - we had two options. Tie the horses up to a picket line - rope - stretched between trees. Or tie them to a tree. If there's nothing to tie them to - they can be hobbled. (Google horse hobbles) These can be created by ropes, if they're not actually carried by the riders. (A cavalry trouper would know this.)

11-25-2014, 07:12 PM
I'm not sure if this helps at all since it doesn't really answer your question, but it may be a good illustration of how horses behave. In my experience, horses have personalities a lot like cats. As in they can be pretty moody, aloof and disagreeable unless they think they'll get a treat and they may or may not be a little bit evil. Mind you, I think the horses I worked with were spoiled.

RN Hill
11-26-2014, 05:58 AM
If at all possible, I recommend you go take a few riding lessons, preferably at a barn with trail horses so you can get a real idea of what this is like and how much it hurts, if you aren't used to it. That will also give you a chance to pick the brains of those leading the trail ride, jot down a few notes, and have a better idea of what you're writing about. Since you're in CA, I'm sure you will be able to find something of that kind close to you, within a hour or two of your house.

Your characters won't need to dismount in order to talk. It's not uncommon for riders to chat while riding.

Yes, horses eat with the bits in their mouths. Not uncommon at all. Not good manners, but not uncommon. :)