Indie and I must be horrible trail riders I suppose. She'll go wherever I ask, but she always questions first and I listen. If she is questioning me (like pausing, lifting her head up, or flickering her ears; these have been the cues I learned from her) then I inspect what it was she was nervous about BEFORE I make her go through it. I find it unfair to just make her do something before I'll do it myself.
A lot of horses are able to meet people half way in communication, I take advantage of that. People can call it bad trail manners, or bad riding; but she doesn't spook, buck, rear or anything of the sort, she listens to me... but more importantly we respect each other. Indie has learned that if she ASKS to stop for a break on the long trails, or to look at something; more then often I'll let her. Why? Because we are both out to have fun.
I never agreed with the whole completely dominate over the horse routine personally... all the horses I ever see walk out of it are dead as door nails. I would HATE to have a clinic trained horse... but that's just me. I like Indie wither her personality, I like seeing her explore her surroundings, and I love her being in a partnership with me. Not just a "do whatever I say" relationship... because that doesn't sound like much of a relationship to me.
I don't teach Indie to "be afriad," I encourage her to look around, to sniff around the trail, I want her to be aware of her surroundings because I trust her as much as she trusts me. It may be wishy washy, but I don't believe that a fun trail horse is one that you just sit on. If my horse "starts to show fear" then I let her figure it out, use that brain of hers and see that it is nothing bad, and know what? It worked. The horse is nearly bombproof (Unless there is a wet box on the side of the road
), and there are times where she has seen things that could have hurt us that I hadn't!
One time we had an encounter with a big old dog that had come out of the woods. Now I guess as leader I should have chased it off when it growled at us, but that is kind of unlikely, isn't it? Instead Indie pinned her ears, and when I gave her the loose rein she charged the dog and had it take off. I don't want my horse to relay soley on what I say, in my eyes that is dangerous.
But I guess that's just us. To each his own :)