The Arabian horse makes a wonderful trail partner. One lady who knows this well is Roz Gilbert, a long time Arabian enthusiast and member of the Trail Riding group, Hags on Nags. “My name is Rosalind Gilbert, but everyone calls me Roz,” she says. “I am 73 years young and live in Sauk Centre, Minn. I have had horses since I graduated from the University of Minnesota. My first horse was a Half-Arabian mare named Misraffi. I trained her myself and showed her as well as did trail riding. My next horse was an Arabian gelding named Rappinto, bred by Kathy Mueller. He was a strawberry roan with a huge belly spot. I trail rode, and eventually Jerry McRae took him to U.S. Nationals and was Top Ten Stock Horse (now Reining). When he was retired, I trained an Arabian mare, Annamara, who was the horse I had when I started trail riding all over the country with a group of women calling themselves Hags on Nags. I now have a Half-Arabian/Quarter Horse palomino called Echos Bold as Brass (nickname BeBe). Besides being a great trail horse, he has been Regional Champion in Ranch Riding as well as having numerous wins in pleasure and trail.”
When she is not in the show ring, Roz loves to get out on the trail. “Since 2001, I have trail ridden with a group of women calling ourselves Hags on Nags,” she explains. “Most of the members are 50 years or older and ride a diverse group of horses; Arabians, Quarter Horses, Tennessee Walkers, Rocky and Kentucky Mountain Horses and Pintos. We have ridden in North and South Dakota, Michigan, Illinois, Kansas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Minnesota, Wyoming, Montana, Tennessee and Montana. We also rode in New Mexico at the Geronimo Trail Guest Ranch, but not with our own horses.”
Amidst this diverse mix, Roz and other members of her group enjoy the ride and greet the adventure from atop their Arabian and Half-Arabian horses. “It has been great riding wherever we have gone,” Roz recounts. “Our first ride at the Bear Mountain Riding Ranch in LaGrange, Wy. where we became friends with owners Sherri and Ron and their friend Char was memorable because they then joined our group and rode with us a number of years. Friendships gained and kept are always the best part of trail riding.”
“In terms of views, riding in Colorado near Red Feather Lake had the most spectacular view as did riding the Appalachian trail in Tennessee. In my adventures I have seen many interesting sights, from a Buddha temple in the Rockies to beautiful hidden Appalachian waterfalls. The Hags have had many misadventures too. Our group seemed to have a propensity for getting lost. While at Montana’s Runamuk Ranch we managed to make a short three hour ride into eight hours. Whenever someone says we are going on a short ride I think maybe not.”
With her vast experience, Roz believes Arabian horses make wonderful trail partners. “I think Arabians and Half-Arabians are great trail horses because they have three great characteristics: intelligence, endurance and athleticism,” she shares. “I never had them get me into serious trouble and in fact had kept me out of trouble. They never panic even when having to go through tricky ground, steep declines or inclines, bee attacks or bad weather.”
One example of this intelligence and ability to deal with tough situations is explained in Roz’s story about her Half-Arabian, Bebe, keeping his calm during an incident on a ride. “While riding in the Smoky Mountains on a narrow, steep trail some were attacked by ground wasps. BeBe, who likes to bring up the rear, watched from about 20 yards back as three horses ahead on the trail stirred up some ground wasps. Two horses got by, but the third horse got swarmed and panicked. His rider jumped off, but he bolted up the trail, and another of the horses also took off with his rider, passing the lead horse whose rider had jumped off. BeBe just stopped and watched this chaotic mess unfold, seemingly trying to figure out just what was happening. After a minute I asked him to go forward, and he calmly walked around two amazed hikers who watched the whole thing. He quietly passed the wasps, who by this time had settled down as if nothing abnormal had happened. Thankfully the other horses with their riders met us up the trail no worse for wear.”
As the Hags on Nags journey around the country on their trail riding trips, the Arabian horses in the group have no issues keeping up and staying cool over a variety of terrain and amongst the other breeds present.
Thanks Roz for sharing your experience as a member of the group, and more about why you choose the Arabian and Half-Arabian as your trail horse.