Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: New South Wales, Australia
If I were you I would judge it from the horses view.
She's out on a trail, somewhere that she is showing she does not feel comfortable, and she is probably a little scared. Then you, who is probably feeling nervous because of her previous behaviour, is sitting on her making her feel afraid too. Then her herd, the other horses, start running away from her, and she wants to stay with them a) because a horse feels safer in a herd (predators pick up the slow ones left behind and b) she could think they are running away from something. You are holding her back, possibly afraid (which horses pick up on) and in her mind if she gets you of her back she can run to safety.
Also, probably everytime a horse decides to canter and trot then you shorten the reins, ride with a contact preparing for the worse, and then the horse gets antsy, expecting something to happen.
What happens if you let the horse have its head, sit back and relax? I doubt your horse would get out front and keep running away from all her friends. Its a pleasure ride, you don't have to be worried about the exact pace and stride.
Also, do you use the one rein stop? Its an effective training tool to help with horses.
Finally, remember that trail groups should always keep to the lowest ability of horse/rider. So if you do not feel you should trot and canter, then don't go out with people who trot and canter. If you want to practice then get one friend to go with you and tell them its for training. You ask your horse to trot or canter first and then they follow. If you call out "halt" or whatever and you try and stop your horse then they immediately halt and stand in one spot and you circle or do whatever to stop your horse. Riding in trail rides where horses run up to the pack, or away from the pack is just going to make your horse worse.
Don't hang on to your horses mouth.