So, this morning. Feeling like not doing ring work I figured I would take Mr. Vacation (4 yrs) out on the trail. He has always been good on the trail. A weenie in the ring but good on the trail. So, this morning, he was feeling pretty good, stepping out nicely. We get out on to the trail after 15 minutes of bushwhacking. I am about 1/2 way down the trail when he stops. He stands at attention and is looking around. I look around too and I don't see anything. I ask him to go forward and he does with out a complaint. We get four strides away and are about to go around a turn. Suddenly, he spins and fast trots the other direction. I get him stopped and turn around. His whole body is acting frightened, nervous and not wanting to go forward. I try to see what he was reacting to but I don't see anything. Yesterday, we saw a deer and he just watched it like "no big deal", so this is weird. I try to get him to go a few steps and he does but then he turns and power walks the other direction snorting. We stop again, I turn him towards the turn he spooked on and then I decided that we turn around. I worried because we had some ground recently torn up in our yard. Large rocks moved and I know that at 6:30 am this waterway and swamp is occupied by animals. I figured large predator up a head. We went back to the ring and did some ring work. He was a bit of a weenie but we worked through it and ended on a good note.
My question is was this a ploy on his part? I was shocked because first I did not think he could move that fast. Obviously that sounds silly he is a horse and raced so he can move fast. Its just not his first choice, he is more of a leisurely stroll kinda guy. He has never spooked like this before. He has been on this trail a few times. I was riding him when we found 14 dead coyotes and he was joe cool about that. I am pretty confident that turning and heading back was the right decision. I just hate that he decided that we turned and left. I have ridden horses my entire life (20+ years) but this is the first horse I have been expected to "train under saddle" in any way shape or form. I have ground broken horses for the track but this is different. He is young and I don't want him to think that he controls where we go and when. Do you think this will be an issue on our next ride? What would you have done different?