I got back into horses in a
big way later in life when my interest in big game hunting lead
me to packing and hunting remote wilderness areas of the west.
Years later I bought an outfitting business out of Cody, Wyoming
in the famous Thorofare area. I assembled a string of over 30
head of horses of all breeds. Arabians, Thoroughbreds, Paints,
Appaloosas, Morgan's, Quarters, wild mustangs, draft crosses,
mules and of course many gaited breeds made up our string. And
do you know what? I loved every one of them. Why? Because
their performance meant the safety of our clients and staff, as
well as our financial future. We used exclusively gaited horses
to bring our clients and myself in and out of camp, which was 29
miles of rough mountain trail. (Ishawooa Trail) The other
breeds were used to pack on coming in and out of camp and as
saddle horses during the hunt. Our gaited horses aided in the
comfort of the long ride as well as moved faster going down the
trail and getting our customers into camp and a rest. Most
days' darkness fell long before we reached camp or trailhead.
(You can't kill elk if you are in camp when the sun is up.)
Riding in the dark was the norm and hence our understanding of
the animal we call the horse and the respect and trust a rider
and horse must have between them.
I have great appreciation for many breeds. We often attend
rodeos, team roping, horse races and my favorite to watch is
Barrel Racing. We also watch on television with great interest,
other equine events like Dressage and Steeplechase. We have
little knowledge of these equine events but have tremendous
appreciation for the skills of both horse and rider.
Why do we use and offer gaited horses for pleasure/trail
riding? The answer is simple-because that is what they were
bred for! You can see the happiness of a gaited horse under
saddle and being ridden. He is doing what he was breed to do!
Just like dogs, horses were bred to do different tasks or
disciplines. We don't expect our Labradors to move or herd
livestock. And we don't expect our Boarder Collie and Red
Heeler to retrieve ducks! Why people ask a breed that was bred
to sprint a quarter of a mile or to work in an arena to be a
trail horse is on the surface a mystery. The answer is really
not complex. It is called marketing. Unfortunately every Horse
Association claims their breed does it all. Well they don't. I
once read in a trail-riding magazine written by the editor that
he rides a Quarter Horse because "the breed epitomizes the
west." Go look at old photos of early settlers and cowboys. Do
they look like Quarter horses to you? Of course they don't.
Most Military Generals and people of means in those days rode
gaited horses and the emphasis of breeding during those times
was to produce comfortable horses and horses that traveled. The
breeding of horses to compete in races and Timed Events didn't
come until years later in this country. Keep in mind that most
Horse Associations didn't come into existence until the late
1930's and early 1940's. There are some recognized breeds that
have only started in the last decade! Now, if you desire a true
breed you have to look at the Arabian, which is documented to be
around for over 6,000 years. The Arabian is an outstanding
endurance horse but would not be our first choice as a
pleasure/trail horse. In fact, we have received several
referrals from Arabian owners who do endurance riding, referring
others to us wanting a pleasure/trail horse.
In the book titled ULTIMATE HORSE, written by Elwyn Hartley
Edwards, who is an Englishman. He writes about all breeds and
says this about the temperament of the Tennessee Walker I shall
"The outstanding feature
of the Tennessee Walker is its temperament. Steady and
reliable, it can be ridden by a beginner with absolute
confidence. This, as well as the easy comfort of the
movement, makes it a popular family mount. It is claimed to
be the most naturally good-tempered of all horses and the
most comfortable in the world."
~by Elwyn Hartley Edwards
At Trail Horses of THE WEST,
we offer several breeds of gaited horses, all of which experts
say are genetically nearly identical. If you like the western
way of life, as I do, don't be afraid to think outside the box
or outside the arena, as we like to say. If you have a breed
that you think is better for pleasure/trail riding, let us
know. We will saddle up and ride behind you so you can show us.
Thanks for listening and good riding!