Where Luxury Trail Horses Are Made
Rawhide Ranch is a private 250-acre training facility located in the foothills of North Carolina. On the surface, the breathtaking property resembles an Old West Texas ranch, yet the state-of-the-art facilities were strategically designed to develop “Luxury Trail Horses” year-round in every climate. In addition to the round pen and lighted covered arena, the ranch offers miles of carved trails ranging from open grassy meadows to creeks and thick forests and includes some intentionally treacherous mountain terrain to ensure Luxury Trail Horses are accustomed to a variety of trails.
The focal point of the ranch’s cutting-edge training facilities is the enormous 3.5-acre trail course with obstacles purposefully designed to mimic difficult situations horses and riders may encounter out on the trail. Each obstacle has varying levels of complexity and builds the foundation for the Luxury Trail Horse training program.
Our 20,000sqft covered arena allows consistent training, even during inclement weather
Miles of precisely placed trails expose horses to a variety of wildlife and topography
Our private 3.5 acre obstacle course prepares horses for the most stressful of situations
Although the stairs were the most daunting obstacle to build, it ultimately led to our favorite obstacle on the ranch. It took 300 tons of hand-tamped dirt to build this 72’ long staircase that starts with a 2’ platform and reaches 4’ high in the center of the 5 levels. The staircase allows us to fully evaluate the athleticism of our horses and build their athletic ability while building their confidence and trust. When a Luxury Trail Horse encounters tough terrain out on the trail, they will be fully prepared to take it in stride.
The trail course at Rawhide Ranch offers two tire stands which vary in complexity. The horses start out by placing one foot on the largest of the two tires. By the time they graduate from our program with the title of “Luxury Trail Horse”, the horses can walk forward or backward onto the smallest tire and stand quietly in a very awkward position with their feet extremely close together. Luxury Trail Horses have incredible control over their feet and are equipped with all the tools necessary to calmly navigate any boulders or tight spaces you may encounter out on the trail.
The Cowboy Curtain is one of our favorite obstacles. The panels are very heavy and flap and make noise anytime the wind blows. By nature, horses don’t like things touching them and pressing against them, especially when asked to go into an obstacle head-first. This obstacle teaches the horses to remain calm when exposed to things they don’t understand. If a tree branch hits your horse in the face out on the trail, they will be well prepared.
This obstacle simulates a tarp, but is far more durable and designed to hold up to the rigors of our daily training routines. The horses are taught to step in from all directions, forward and backwards. Since horses have limited depth perception and can’t tell the difference between stepping down into a shallow puddle or a bottomless black hole, the sandbox teaches trust and confidence when they may encounter uncertain footing out on the trail.
Our jumps range in size from 8 inches to 2.5 feet! Jumping our horses over stationary objects helps to build their athleticism and the capability to clear fallen trees or other obstacles when out on the trail. But more importantly, Luxury Trail Horses are taught to listen for cues from the rider to tell them whether to jump or NOT to jump. There are times when you may want your horse to jump and other times, such as crossing a small stream or ravine where you want them to step into an obstacle. The jumps allow us to teach the horses the difference.
The teeter bridge serves several purposes. It teaches Luxury Trail Horses to walk on surfaces they are unfamiliar with and rely on their rider for direction when crossing unstable terrain. The bridge is also designed to be extremely loud and makes a loud ‘bang’ when it slams down to its original position after the horse exits the obstacle. This teaches our Luxury Trail Horses trust and control and how to ‘think’ instead of panic, regardless of what surface is underneath them or what sounds are in the vicinity when you’re out on the trail.
These giant tires are narrow, confining, and sunken into the ground to make them rigid and unmovable. This obstacle mimics a deep gulch out on a trail where an unaccustomed horse could become claustrophobic and nervous. We use the stationary tires to teach our horses confidence and to not panic when they’re in close quarters.
The cloverleaf is adjacent to the trail course and allows us to train the horses in a strategic pattern. This method teaches the horses to never ‘out guess’ their rider or anticipate what’s coming next. Luxury Trail Horses are taught to rely on the rider’s cues for direction, gait, and speed at all times.
This obstacle teaches Luxury Trail Horses to be extremely sure-footed. A series of 15 stationary logs are placed in a circular pattern and the closer the horse is to the center of the circle, the more careful they have to be with their feet. Sure footedness is one of the pillars that makes a Luxury Trail Horse and whether you’re riding through rocks, woods, creek beds, or deep sand and mud, Luxury Trail Horses know exactly where to place their feet at all times.
This narrow path through railroad ties takes a sharp 90 turn in the center. Luxury Trail Horses are taught to walk forward, backward, and sidepass through this obstacle for ultimate control over where they place their feet. This teaches the horses to pay attention at all times and wait for cues from the rider for exactly where and when to place each foot. If you find yourself in a precarious situation out on the trail, your Luxury Trail Horse has the ‘buttons’ necessary to wait and listen for your guidance.
We are extremely blessed to have 250 acres of riding trails on our property, but many of our customers have to haul out to access trails. We sank a steel post with a ball hitch deep into the ground and added a horse trailer right in the middle of our trail course so trailer loading and unloading becomes part of the daily routine. Trailering is often overlooked and is one of the most important elements of a Luxury Trail Horse.
We can’t recall the number of times out riding when we hear hunters off in the distance. An untrained horse is easily startled by a gunshot and will spook, buck or bolt when they hear something unexpected. Bullwhips are LOUD and echo through the canyon with the sound bouncing off the trees. Luxury Trail Horses are so accustomed to the sound that they generally start to fall asleep while we’re cracking bullwhips and will rarely even flick an ear if they hear a loud noise.
This obstacle resembles what some may have seen as ‘pole bending’, but we use it a bit differently. Horses are taught lightness with the slalom. To be considered a Luxury Trail Horse, the horses should be light to soft cues from your hands and legs at all three gaits. A horse that you have to ‘pull’ or ‘kick’ is not a luxury to ride and the slalom is one of the obstacles we use to ensure they are light and responsive at all times.
The rollback station is a sturdy, dual-sided fence that we use to teach the horses to turn sharp and quick when needed. Not only does this build athleticism, if you ever encounter an impassable obstacle on the edge of a cliff, your Luxury Trail Horse will be able to instantly pivot on their hind end to reverse direction and keep you safe.
And Much More