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Complete Trail Horse: Selecting, Training, and Enjoying Your Horse in the Backcountry Paperback – October 1, 2004

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Complete Trail Horse: Selecting, Training, and Enjoying Your Horse in the Backcountry + Trail Riding: Train, Prepare, Pack Up & Hit the Trail + 101 Trail Riding Tips: Helpful Hints For Backcountry And Pleasure Riding (101 Tips)
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Aadland writes in a free-flowing style that seems to transport the reader right to the corral on the family ranch..."--America's Bridle & Bit

From the Back Cover

Whether it’s for fishing or hunting, nature-watching or camping, or simply to get off the beaten path, there is no better way to travel through the backcountry than on horseback. And riding a sure-footed, responsive mount that has been trained to carry you and your equipment over the most rugged terrain is the best way of all.
To make sure that you and your horse are on the right foot, Dan Aadland, a seasoned horseman and packtripper, shares his expertise and experiences in The Complete Trail Horse. Beginning with advice on selecting a good trail mount (and why Tennessee Walking Horses and other laterally-gaited horses are especially suited for such work), the author delves into equipment, techniques, and strategies for training both the saddle horse and the pack horse to cover demanding and often dangerously steep inclines and descents, narrow ledges, and other features of backcountry terrain in a safe and efficient manner.
The book then moves on to tack and other items specifically designed for trail riding, more advanced training techniques (including contending with spooky, laggard, and overenthusiastic horses), and taking part in trail competitions. Concluding sections contain valuable information and insights into how to organize and then pack gear for the greatest comfort for yourself, the horse you’ll ride, and the packhorse you’ll lead.
Written with authority and enthusiasm, The Complete Trail Horse is the first—and the last—word on ensuring that you and your horses will be prepared for and can therefore enjoy to the fullest your trips through the backcountry and back home.
Dan Aadland, the author of Treading Lightly with Pack Animals: A Guide to Low-Impact Travel in the Backcountry, is a frequent contributor to Western Horseman and other equestrian publications. He and his wife, Emily, live in Absarokee, Montana, where they breed Tennessee Walking Horses and organize packtrips.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Lyons Press; 1st edition (October 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1592282512
  • ISBN-13: 978-1592282517
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #502,866 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

I'm a rancher, retired teacher, and former Marine officer, but the role of writer has been my primary preoccupation since I learned to love the written word as a child. Early tastes included the best outdoor writers of the day, and of course Mark Twain, the master. After service in Viet Nam I attended the University of Utah, where I earned an MA in English and a Ph.D.in American Studies and creative writing. Then it was back to Montana for a busy life divided between ranching and teaching high school English and various extension courses for the university system.
But it's been my love of horses, of raising and training them, and my passion for riding a good horse under the Big Sky, that has spawned my best writing--SKETCHES FROM THE RANCH: A MONTANA MEMOIR; THE BEST OF ALL SEASONS: FIFTY YEARS AS A MONTANA HUNTER; and my newest and eighth, IN TRACE OF TR: A MONTANA HUNTER'S JOURNEY.
For that latest work I sought to know Theodore Roosevelt from the perspective of a fellow hunter, rancher, and horseman. I rode where he rode, hunted as he hunted, and found that the century intervening was but a skip in time between hunters' hearts. Apparently my approach has struck a chord--the book received a first place award in the Book Division of Excellence in Craft Awards from the Outdoor Writers Association of America in 2012.
--Dan Aadland

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 24 people found the following review helpful By W. Oley on October 31, 2004
Format: Paperback
This book provides essential information for anyone riding horses. It does focus on trail riding and backcountry horsemanship but the information provided can be applied to any equine endeavor.

The book presents trail riding and backcountry horsemanship as its own discipline and stresses the importance of having a mount that allows both the rider and the horse to have an enjoyable experience on the trail. Perhaps the point that struck me the most is stressing that a good trail horse is not a barrel, reining, or dressage washout---but an athlete in it's own arena of mountains, streams, deserts, and woodlands.

I have been fortunate enough to meet Dan and I actually have purchased two of his Tennessee Walkers as my current trail mounts. They take me everywhere, from arid sagebrush to mountain passes and all points in between. Their ability as athletic, willing, and stable backcountry companions is evidence that Dr. Aadland has the knowledge of what it takes to breed and train a horse designed for the trail, no matter where it should take you.

The Complete Trail Horse presents the reader with this wealth of information in an enjoyable, readable format.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Joel Reiter on March 28, 2008
Format: Paperback
After wading through a pile of insipid books on trail riding, I was delighted to find The Complete Trail Horse. The authoritative voice, the passion, the humor that was missing from the other books is all here, along with the unexpected pleasure of exceptional writing sprinkled with references to Chaucer, Shakespeare, the Bible, and wisdom from the Ancient Greeks.

Author Dan Aadland lives on a 1200 acre Montana ranch, where he breeds, raises, trains and sells Tennessee Walkers for trail riding. He uses the horses daily for tending cattle and checking irrigation, and takes annual pack trips into the wilderness. His explanation of why it is important for your trail horse to know how to sidepass gave me chills, and his anecdote on why organized trail rides say "Don't even think about bringing your dog" was quite convincing.

The bulk of the material falls roughly into three categories: 1) choosing a horse, 2) training, and 3) techniques and equipment. On the first subject, he provides useful information for evaluating any horse. The author gave me new appreciation for my gelding's high withers, 8 1/4" circumference cannon bones, and enormous size 3 feet. Aadland makes an important distinction between spirited horses with a lot of desirable energy and hyper horses that can't be trained to stand still. He also points out that courage is a trait that may be present or lacking in a horse of any energy level, and a spirited horse that faces surprises with courage is safer than a lazy quiet horse that blows up without warning.

As a fan of clinicians like Pat Parelli and Clinton Anderson, I found the book's material on training particularly interesting. The author has a refreshing mixture of respect and disdain for these celebrity trainers and their methods.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Pamela DeMuth on March 16, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Dan Aadland presents a wonderfully written guide for choosing, training, and enjoying your riding experiences on the trail. His extensive experience in all of these areas is extremely helpful to novice through advanced trail riding enthusiasts. He covers the basics as well as providing detailed information for a wide range of activities and gear. The author uses entertaining accounts to emphasize his points. The Complete Trail Horse is an easy read as well as excellent resource! If you plan to trail ride, horse camp, or pack out on horseback, this is the book.

Pamela DeMuth
Author of The Spirit of Horsemanship
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Sidney Gustafson on March 30, 2009
Format: Paperback
Delightful treatise on horsemanship, keen insight, well-written. Information, storytelling, wisdom, and insight portraying Montana wilderness and horsemanship ethics.
Sid Gustafson DVM
Nothing regarding horses is complete, however ;-)
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