The Arabian horse is the perfect candidate for a trail riding partner. Their endurance is well known, and their bravery, surefootedness, and willing nature all serve them well going down the trail. Breed characteristics such as dense bone, large nostrils, deep heart girth, and solid construction make it no surprise that the Arabian is a steadfast partner for riding over a distance. This was first proven by the Bedouins in the desert and continues to be that way today as many explore the world from the backs of their Arabian horses.
Barbara Lowell, who is in her mid-thirties, currently resides in Texas, though she moves often as her husband serves as a U.S. Marine. The pair have three Purebred Arabians that they endeavor to ride through as many National parks as possible, Sera (SA Seraphim), Reggie (Silvern Idol) and Manny (Baha Crescent). “We have ridden our horses at the Grand Canyon, Bryce, Yosemite, and Olympic National parks as well as countless more,” Barbara shares. “We also compete in AERC (American Endurance Ride Conference) and NATRC (North American Trail Ride Conference) events.”
For Barbara, it’s the people-oriented nature and willingness to work with his rider that makes the Arabian horse the ultimate choice of trail horse. “They’re a partner,” she explains. “I’ve had a couple different breeds, but have never had a trail horse as good as my Arabians. In my experience, they are an intelligent animal who asks questions and accepts my answers. They’re soft, willing, and happy to explore. They take care of us. There were times with my mare Sera that I wasn’t as confident as she was, and she would still march ahead bravely. Our horses have also been able to go from the wilderness to the show ring and back. There’s really something very special about this breed.”
Sera’s braveness made all the difference to Barbara during her rides at the Grand Canyon. “The first time I rode it, I was up most of the night before fretting,” she recounts. “I’ve ridden worse trails, but the Canyon is really an impressive and intimidating expanse. I looked down, and it gave me goosebumps. My mare marched down the trail and never missed a step. Coming through the dark tunnel and onto the suspension bridge my heart skipped a beat. Sera didn’t baulk and just kept going.” After their first ride there, Barbara’s special mare sadly lost an eye. Despite this, the pair tackled the Canyon a second time. “I rode her down, I rode her up. She was no different than the first time, and she read the trail as well,” Barbara shares. “People touched her blind side with ponchos, selfie sticks and umbrellas, and she didn’t care. My husband rode his Purebred gelding down, and he took it all in stride as well. We are so proud and in love with our Arabian horses, and we really can’t imagine our lives without them.”
Barbara chronicles her journey with Sera, and shares the many talents of her Arabian horses, as well as tips for other trail riders, on her Facebook page.
Jane Ecklund is another avid trail rider. Located 25 miles northwest of Duluth, Minn., Jane is 69 years old and was bought her first horse, a yearling Half-Arabian filly, when she was 11 years old. “I have never shown; my passion is trail riding. My goal is to ride not only a beautiful Arabian, but a strong-boned, good-minded, well put together Arabian that shows the world what a great horses they are,” Jane shares.
Jane was 37 when she watched her first Purebred Arabian, RJ Catlima, being born. “She was 26 when we lost her, but in those 26 years this mare not only gave us two beautiful fillies, a purebred and a Quarab, but she also taught us about patience, love and respect. She would always get me home no matter how ’misplaced’ I was. If she refused to cross water or a low area, I never argued with her; she never steered me wrong. She was my first choice in a trail partner as she always, always took care of her rider,” she explains. Catlima’s children and grandchildren have played an important part in Jane’s life. Her grandson RJ Hesastormcat, is Jane’s husband’s trail horse, and her granddaughter RJ Catira, is Jane’s trail horse today.
Jane and her husband have ridden in Wisconsin, Illinois, Missouri, Michigan, Iowa, South Dakota, North Dakota, Nebraska, Wyoming, and are looking forward to adding more states in the years to come.
Recounting some of her best rides, Jane shares, “For my 60th birthday, my husband and I took two weeks and went West - North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska. We had the best trip! We rode in Little Missouri State Park, Mt. Rushmore, Harney Peak, some of the Mah Dah Hay trail, Fort Abraham Lincoln, Fort Ransom, Fort Robinson, Sheyenne Oaks, and Maplewood State Park. It was the best trip ever. Catessa and Catira proved what wonderful, smart, trail horses they were. Then, in 2008 we did the Outlaw Trail Ride out of Thermopolis, Wy.. It was a hundred mile progress ride with twenty-five riders and our leaders. By the end of the ride, we were told by many of the other participants that our Arabian and Quarab had drastically changed their misconception of the Arabian breed. Not only were they not hot-headed, wild beasts, but they were calm, intelligent, wonderful trail horses.”
Much like Barbara, the Arabian is Jane’s trail horse of choice thanks to their kind and willing nature. “I have ridden other breeds, but my heart belongs to the Arabian and Half-Arabian. They are so people orientated and so willing to try whatever it is you ask of them. Always looking to see what is around the next corner with a forward going way, but a kindness and willingness that can't be topped,” she says.
Jane’s greatest experience on the trail with her Arabian horses came from her charitable involvement with a fundraising ride called
Trails4Transplants, which she joined in May of 2017. “All proceeds from this ride, which at its end was 2000 miles over six years, went to the Mayo Clinic Transplant House in Rochester, Minn.,” Jane explains. “I rode my mare RJ Catira for 174 miles, one week, in May of 2017. In May of 2018, I rode RJ Catira and her son, RJ Hesastormcat for 317 miles in two weeks. Both horses performed beautifully. It was Stormcat's first time in such a large group of horses, riding along the side of busy highways in all kinds of weather. He is the type of Arabian that promotes the breed proudly.”
Both Barbara and Jane are unique in their journeys and experiences, yet they share the agreement that Arabian horses make for wonderful partners on the trail. The adventures of Sera and her friends show the huge heart and resilience of the Arabian horse, as she continues to lead Barbara and her husband on some wonderful trails. The legacy of Barbara’s special mare, RJ Catlima lives on in her progeny as they continue to be enjoyed by Jane and her husband as they check more states off their list.
Thanks Barbara and Jane for sharing your wonderful Arabian trail horses and breed ambassadors with Arabian Horse Life.
Do you have a special Arabian or Half-Arabian trail horse? Comment below. We’d love to see them!