So this might be something that will never change and I'm resigned to it's never changing but I figured I could at least post here to see if anybody has any good ideas. :)
My mare, Lacey (26 year old Arabian mare who's under the impression that she's really a 2 year old with the life experience of a 26 year old), is probably the world's second best trail horse. Nothing spooks her, she has a great stop, she's brave, dogs jumping and barking at her just cause her to stop and not move until they're back under their owner's control or they've decided she's not interesting at all, she has no fear of bridges and water crossings, etc.
Only problem: on the way home she rushes.
She rushes on the way out too but not as badly. She doesn't misbehave while rushing, she'll still stop dead if need be etc, she just walks really fast. If I don't hold her in a smidge, she'll walk and then maybe throw in a few trot steps and then decide to start trotting if I don't correct her but I always do correct her, and she's ok with being corrected, no issues there.
It's become extra worse now that she's discovered that she can do a flat walk and and therefore be "walking" but walk at trotting speed. So basically, if I ask her to slow down from a flat walk - she stops. She acts like on the way home we go from having four gaits available to us (walk, flat walk, trot, canter) to three (flat walk, trot, canter).
The other problem is that she does not have a real cue for flat walk so I can't practice it with her and teach her that flat walk and walk are not the same thing. And she won't flat walk if I just have her speed up her walk. She only flat walks when she wants to be somewhere else than where she is.
I've tried making her do circles and things, just to get her thinking but that gets her even more worked up. Then she starts rearing and really refusing which is a fight I'm willing to win (and always do) but I dislike doing so because it flavors the rest of the ride and the next one (basically, she doesn't get over it and fights harder the next time with even less provocation).
My current system is going on long enough rides that she is nearly exhausted on the way back. For instance, this last Friday I took her on a 4 or 5 mile ride where she jigged all the way there and flat walked until we got back to the last mile or so since that was a mile of pretty steep uphill trail. By the time we were back home, she was walking perfectly normally and slowly (of course, as soon as the saddle was off and I had hosed her off, she was trotting next to me as I led her). I feel like maybe a few more of those and we'll be set, maybe.
There's also a loop trail that I'm dying to try out but a 5 minute section of it is next to a very busy road that has a sidewalk but I'm nervous about Lacey staying on a sidewalk and not accidentally stepping off it into traffic... She's really great with traffic though so it might be fine... There's no bike lane either. :(
I also don't turn her out as soon as we get home. She gets to hang out for at least ten minutes before being turned out.
I should also probably say that she's currently off her Mare Magic (which she neeeeeds) and her behavior is generally much improved when she's on it. I ordered a pound of it off Ebay and it's just not here yet. But she still likes to rush home, Mare Magic or no.
So basically, if anyone has any good ideas, I'm totally open to hearing them.
Sorry for the novel!