Well, it is all good advice - but nothing is w/o exceptions. I believe horses to be extremely intelligent animals (an IQ far above that of a dog, for reference), and just like people, ya have to get to know them as individuals.
I rode cow horses for years..on cattle on working ranches. I have extremely talented buckskin which I have had since he was a yearling (he is a senior now). When he was younger, you could put him on cattle in roughest or the smoothest terrain .. and if you were willing you would learn a thing or two about pushing cattle from him - he knew his stuff! He didn't spook, didn't buck, didn't do anything but do his job to complete perfection. But, go down the road for a Sunday outing w/o a job in sight...and you might better make arrangements in case of your demise. He was extremely spooky when asked to just simply go "down the road", and he was sure there were black helos coming to get us, every time! The old boy was raised on the range and knew how to "stay safe".....which didn't include sniffing the monsters, but did include being on extreme high alert every second out of a "safety zone" w/o a job. And, his vigilance paid off…he was always the dominant horse when in a herd, and he was a fantastic "leader" - no one ever got hurt on his watch!
If one did not take the time to get to know the buckskin and they had ended up w him somehow w the intended purpose of trail riding....they would have had serious problems and may very well have not learned how talented he was. I hate to think what would have become of him under those circumstances.
Pushing the buckskin and showing him who was boss on a pleasure trail ride was -worth your life. You couldn't "win" w the buckskin....at very best you could come to an understanding. I had actually had pro trainers comment on how I should handle him and "take the reins".....so, I just let them "show me how it’s done". The buckskin showed them. Like I said, I had him nearly all his life...I knew him inside out, and knew it wasn't my riding skills at fault. No one ever got it over on the buckskin on a trail ride. BUT, now, thanks to a little grade filly....he doesn't even spook at umbrellas!!! Not even mailboxes, flags waiving, or houses! WOW!
When the buckskin was over 20 he was no less spooky than when he was 2. He was retired from cow work, which meant he could only be ridden in a controlled situation (e.g., an arena). At his age he had seen it all before, it didn’t matter...he just spooked at the smallest of things no matter how many times he had been "habituated" to a particular thing. I mean, you had to be careful about the sound of candy wrappers around him - and he spooked at buildings of any sort, including houses! But, surprise!!!! Nooo more! I wish I had known what he needed when he was 3 – which was a fearless little filly w zero cow sense to show him the way!
I bought the young grade filly for my daughter (my daughter later lost interest, now the mare is my pride and joy). I had no history on the little filly, but I would guess she was orphaned or weaned way too early. She was ignorant of even the very basic "herd manners", way underweight, but she was clearly very, very bright - I could see she had potential and would make a great partner - if someone gave her a chance. She was a follower, the extreme opposite of the buckskin. Since I was going to put my young daughter on her, I played with her a lot to see what she would spook at...which was very little in her "safety zone". The buckskin left dodge every time we started one of our "play sessions". In the beginning, the buckskin would try to “move her” away from the “dangerous games”. She ignored him – she doesn’t get “herd language”. A first for him…no one ever ignored his orders! Because the filly was so food oriented, I started clicker training her (on the ground only). The buckskin would watch us from a distance. After about 3 sessions, he actually came within 20 feet to watch…always at the ready to get gone. As time went by, he finally got close enough that I could offer to include him in the games. After about 3 such occurrences.....he just pushed the little filly out of the way and wanted to be front and center! I was amazed! So, I included him as much as I could - the filly was/is my main focus. THe filly was far more "advanced" at the games, which clearly irritated the old guy. His competitive nature wouldn't let him be outshined by some little upstart. We "played" with umbrellas, flags, pop guns, horns, bicycles...you name it. And to my shock...the old buckskin became calmer and calmer...until he was CALM - solid as a rock!
So, show'n em who's in charge and making them keep going down the road - ordinarily will work. If the horse is smarter than you are....it may very well not. It shouldn’t chip away at your confidence, don't get rid of the horse, look for their talents and find another way!