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Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Tailing part 2

I realized that some people may not know what tailing is! Tailing is sending your horse in front of you on the trail, grabbing their tail, and letting them pull you up the mountain. It is a good way to save your horse for the rest of the day, and lessen the fatigue on the rider as well. Hopefully this is done with some sort of control, which means practice! Definitely not something you pull out of your tool box on ride day without practice!

Generally there is a long line - either a leadrope, long reins, or a piece of line tied to the reins that reaches to the back of the horse so that the rider still has some control.

Tailing at Rides - stories
I'm not a huge fan of people tailing at rides in big groups - for example up a mountain on single track where everyone is bunched together and it is stop and go. Invariably the people that choose to tail their horses have no control and put others at risk.

Story 1: At Farley's first ride, a person decided to go up the hill by tailing the horse behind us. It was stop and go and near the beginning of the ride and the riders were all bunched up. This lady's horse kept running up behind Farley. She had no control over the horse's manner and speed. I asked her numerous times to stop running her horse over mine and then got away as soon as I could. I found out later that the horse was a friends that she had never ridden before. What can we learn from this?
1. Why tail at the beginning of the ride in a group of people on a horse you can barely control in the saddle with the S-hack that you have never ridden before? If you don't know the horse, it's the horse's first race, or it's in the beginning of the ride - be courteous and maybe save the tailing for later in the ride.

Story 2: On the fourth day of Death Valley we were going over a pass. It was a little hairy. Rocks, single tracks, blind corners, and drop offs. Some people got off and led their horses. This was probably a good choice. One gentleman decided to tail his horse. Thank goodness he wasn't behind me - he was behind my friend, who was behind me. This horse kept overrunning the horse in front (my friend), and the only reason that something bad didn't happen (horse getting kicked, my friend being pushed off the trail) was because she was riding a very patient and experienced gelding. What can we learn from this?
1. Tailing a horse up a dangerous single track with a hoard of other people stopping and starting is probably never a good idea.

Now you might start to get the idea that I hate all who tail - that isn't true! I love tailing, I love to see other people tailing. I think it's one of the coolest thing ever! I just think there's a time and a place for it and it frustrates me when my horse and I are put in a bad spot because people aren't thinking. If I'm tailing up a narrow trail and catch up to other riders in front, and if I cannot keep a good cushion between them and my horse, I either mount up, or lead. It's not worth putting someone in the hospital or getting my horse kicked because I was tailing. If someone politely asks me to keep a bigger cushion between them and the horse I'm tailing, (and they cannot ride away from me because we are all trapped on a stop and go single track up a hill) and I cannot accomplish it by tailing, it is my responsibility to do what ever it takes to accomplish that - either leading or mounting up. So please - just like any other tool in your endurance toolbox, be respectful, ride safely, and have a great ride.


  1. Very good points! I just wish I was a stronger "uphill walker/runner" so I could do more tailing.

    One of the benefits of being a habitual tail-ender with the Toad is that I rarely ran into traffic jams. When I start competing on Fiddle (next year?) perhaps I'll see more action...I hope not...

  2. I agree excellent points. I have flat-lander envy. Training in the mountains takes hours of hauling.

  3. Hills for me require ~1 hour of trailering. Definately worth it though!

    AareneX - That's so cool you have a horse named Fiddle! I play the fiddle so I'm partial to the name :)


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