Here at Red Horse Mountain Dude Ranch we are celebrating the New Year and looking forward to the upcoming season, and it’s time to start introducing some new horses to the ranch! Over the next few months we will be searching the northwest for the perfect trail horses that will fit right in with our herd here at the ranch. Choosing a horse requires extensive knowledge, intuition, and riding experience.
While to some, it may seem that a trail horse might require less training than say, an arena horse, but this is not the case! Trail horses need excellent balance and athleticism as trails have all types of obstacles and rough surfaces that our wranglers and guests will encounter. This is western wilderness, after all, and ya never know what’s going to be around the next corner.
Our ranch is nestled in a valley surrounded by beautiful green mountains, with segments of quite steep and rocky trails, and many creek beds that require crossing. Our horses need to be ready and capable of traversing this terrain in a safe manner, and therefore we must be mindful about the horses we choose. Dan Aadland, author of The Complete Trail Horse, summed up our ideal horse when he wrote:
“The complete trail horse is the ultimate equine generalist. He is, in every respect, what mankind from ancient times until today has sought as the “saddle horse”, horseback transportation that is tough, enduring, and comfortable.”
Comfortable is the key word, and finding the right horse also means that our wranglers and guests are going to have a blast on the trail! Here at Red Horse Mountain Ranch, we buy a variety of horses that are ideal for trail riding, from Quarters, Paints, Appaloosas, to Arabians. So, what does finding the right horse involve, and what kind of questions do you ask when buying a horse? A great deal of research is the start to finding the right pick, as the horse market is extensive and diverse. The age-range of each specific horse we look at is also important, as we purchase older horses for our young cowboys and girls, as well as younger horses that adults and more experienced riders will be comfortable with. After finding a horse that seems like the right fit there are many questions to be asked about the prospect, from general questions such as why the horse is being sold, the owners history with horses, to specific questions about hooves, shoes, and eyesight.
There are countless pieces of information that tell about a horse’s health history, eating habits, temperament, experience, breeding; when any one of these questions reveals a red flag about the horses health or temperament, then it may not be a fit for Red Horse. Oh, and perhaps most important, they must be sure-footed! When the perfect horse is found, our staff brings them back to the ranch where they can begin to assimilate with the herd. It is truly an exciting process, and we can’t wait to meet our new additions, and for them to meet our guests this summer, happy trails!