Same is true on the ranch. If I am running across rough pastures, crossing steep gullies and crossing the water in the bottom of them so that I can 'head' a bunch of cattle trying to get to the brush or trees, I am not going to pet and cajole my horse to go where I want him to. He is going to go because that is where I pointed his nose and asked for 'forward'.
Stopping and / or looking is NEVER an option for me. This is the riding and training style that I use for ranch horses, personal trail horses and for Police Horses. It is sure what I would also want for a cross-country horse. Stopping and checking out a solid fence while I was perched up there in a forward position is not what I would call 'acceptable'.
Horses go into smoke and riots, over huge fences they cannot see over, and into fast flowing water they cannot see the bottom of because they are ---
1) COMPLETELY OBEDIENT
2) COMPLETELY TRUSTING
This has always been our goal and it works very well. These horses are not being treated 'mean' or are 'mindless robots'. The people that think they are have just never ridden one. With our goal of complete obedience and complete trust, we get a horse that has 'no worries'. He KNOWS we will take care of everything. Nervous, un-confident, spooky, 'refusing' horses are most of all 'worried'. As a prey animal, they are supposed to be worried about them and the horses behind them when they are the leader. When you are the right kind of leader, they are not worried about anything. They are like the foal that blindly follows its mother into the swift river. The horses at the back of the herd are not worried about anything. They are following their trusted lead-horse.
I did not ride very many trail horses in groups of people until I figured out that the horse in the lead acts much differently that when that same horse is in the middle or back of the bunch. I have commercial trail horses now that are two different horses. They ride one way at the front of the pack and completely different in the middle or back.
This is why we train trail horses out by themselves. We want them to learn to trust their rider rather than the horse in front of them. It is often times more difficult to train a horse that has followed on a trail than one that has never been on a trail and is taken out by himself from day one.
The trick is learning to be that kind of leader.