It sounds like a lot of people are just plumb afraid of speed.
I think you're probably right about that.
Our TWHs can
adjust their walk to go the same as what would be considered a non-gaited horse's "working walk."
Just moving along, a slight "bob" to the head, but not burning it up by any stretch of the imagination. It's an alert, responsive, controlled, forward-moving walk. . .the kind where your horse is ready to move into a trot or canter without having to be woken up first.
The problem is that many people I've run into on the trail seem to think the only "walk" their horse can
do is that death-march speed and they never ask for anything more. Maybe they never learned how to make adjustments, to get their horse to "walk out" a little bit more and take a bigger stride. I really don't know.
I haven't always ridden gaited horses. But even on non-gaited horses, the sleep-walk is just. . .well. . .boring. Really slow, and really boring. That's the kind of walk I might do if I was cooling a horse out after working it in an arena. But on a trail ride, I'd expect at least a working-walk speed.