Are you searching for that once-in-a-lifetime adventure? Cross country horse riding may be an unforgettable experience for you.
Many have tried exploring their country by buying a recreational vehicle and taking to the highways and byways. One family took half of a year off and boarded their RV for an educational cross-America trip. Others have tossed their luggage and their camping equipment into their cars and traveled from campground to campground. Entrepreneurs have outfitted tiny houses or retrofitted an old bus to explore America while they took their work with them. Recently, seeing the country astride a motorcycle has once again grown in popularity. Bikers have gone in groups and returned with fantastic stories to tell.
Very few, however, have tried cross country horse riding.
As the name suggests, cross country horse riding involves riding across this great country on horseback. If you’ve ever ridden a horse or even dreaming of going horseback riding, cross country horse riding might be the ideal way for you to see America.
Tales of Horse Riding Across the Country
Let tales of others’ exploits motivate you:
Alex McNeil and his horse, Pepper, traveled from Oregon to New Hampshire. On their four-thousand-mile journey, they saw a vast array of scenery. If you are not an experienced rider, don’t let that deter you. Until he decided to try cross country horse riding, Alex McNeil had never ridden a horse. In preparation for his trip, he spent several months learning about horses and riding. He worked with Pepper to ensure that both horse and rider were ready. While there are some similarities to the old cattle drives and settlers moving west, today’s cross country horse riders rely on modern technology like GPS and cell phones. While cross country horse riding is not widely known, it has been around for a while.
In 1975, Allen Russel and his horse, King Hoppy Kono started their journey at the Canadian border. They traveled along the Rocky Mountains to Mexico. This 2,400-mile journey took them through remote areas. In the seventies, Russel didn’t have the technology that more modern riders now have. They relied on many of the same navigation skills used by the early settlers to reach their destination. While the single rider and horse trip is appealing, getting together with a support group for a cross country ride is also an enjoyable pursuit. That’s what Bill Inman’s family did in 2008. Together with his wife and several friends, he set out to meet Americans along the route. This trip convinced him that the spirit of America was alive and well.
Preparing to Ride a Horse Cross Country
While cross country horse riding is appealing, these trips are not for everyone.
They take a lot of preplanning. If you don’t ride regularly, it makes sense to practice your riding skills and do some short trips first. When you are out there on the trail, you are responsible for your safety. But, you’re also responsible for keeping your horse safe and healthy. Preplanning your trip includes mapping out the route. You need to know where you can purchase supplies. Your trip will take you through wilderness areas. You must carry enough food and water for you and your horse. You will also need a means of shelter, clothes, boots, and medical supplies. Planning a safe route for riding horseback isn’t as simple as plotting destination points on a GPS. You will need to avoid high-traffic areas. You will also have to figure out how to cross busy highways safely.
The Long Riders Guild offers some good tips. They suggest you first attempt day and overnight trips followed by a week trip before you consider a cross country event. The association also encourages talking to others who have attempted long trips. They warn you not to talk to anyone who hasn’t been involved in a trip over five hundred miles.
If you own a horse, he/she may not be the best choice for this trip. Those who have taken cross country horse rides suggest that the ideal road horse should be neither old nor young. He/she should be between six and sixteen years. You want a horse that is not nervous in traffic. The ideal road horse will enjoy the trip and enjoy seeing new sights. The horse needs to be strong with good feet. Also, make sure the horse is not a finicky eater. Often, smaller horses are more resilient than larger ones. Your horse should not be expected to carry a rider more than a fifth of his/her weight.
Both you and your mount should be healthy enough to withstand adverse weather conditions and months-long rides. Before you leave, both you and your horse should have a physical. Make sure you are both healthy enough to set out on this adventure. Have your veterinarian check your horse’s heart, feet, and eyes. Make sure he/she has the stamina for this long journey.
Other Tips on Cross Country Horse Riding
- What skills will you need?
- Are there things you need to learn before you set out?
- Can you change a horseshoe?
- Do you know how to look after your horse’s health on the road?
While riding from the Canadian border to the Mexican border or from Oregon to New Hampshire may seem exciting, you may wish to start with a horse riding venture that is not so ambitious or time-consuming. Consider using a travel company like Aille Cross Country Trail. These companies supply horses, gear, and guides. Routes are designed to provide spectacular views and safe places to stay overnight. After you have experience horseback riding with experienced equestrians, you may feel more prepared to take on a cross country horse ride.
Are you excited about the possibility of a cross country horse riding adventure? Are you committed to making this dream a reality? Or, is this venture just a future possibility? It doesn’t matter where you are in your cowboy or cowgirl dream.
Here’s a great way to start – head on down to Grizzly Rose. We’ll treat you to some first-class country entertainment. Who knows? Over your favorite beverage and some tantalizing food, you just might meet some Grizzly Rose “regulars” who share your cross country horse riding dream.