However, in solving one problem I've identified another one. I have no idea how to ride and I have no horse, no saddle, no trailer and no idea how to do this.
I think the first step is to actually ride a horse. We have a county park nearby with a number of stables, so I shouldn't have too much trouble getting some time in the saddle. But what am I looking for? From the little time I've spent on this forum, there are apparently numerous riding styles and disciplines. What do they call what I am trying to do? Furthermore, what level of competence is required of me as a rider in order to do this?
I'm not sure its a good idea to buy a horse so that can go on an excursion a couple of times a year, even if there are people giving them away for free or nearly so on Craigslist. Once I figure out how to ride, is it even reasonable to expect that somebody would rent or lend me an animal for this purpose? As I envision it, we would spend most of the day just walking trails. However, there is a lot of up and down and the terrain can be steep and sometimes rocky. My friends and I actually speculated that mules might be more suitable. We also considered that perhaps we could use our mount to drag out the bear we shoot. I suppose we would want to put a lot of orange on the horse so we don't get mistaken for game. And of paramount concern, I would need an animal I could safely shoot from. The last thing I need is to take a shot at the bear of a lifetime and promptly get tossed heels over head by a frightened horse. The cavalry used to do this kind of thing, so it is clearly possible, but is it practical and what does it take to get it done?