I've ridden my horse until it was too dark to see, then just dropped the reins and let them go, they always bring me home. But, the trust & horse sense that people used to have in horses is far greater than most people have now days.
My grandfather used to tell stories about his childhood, and one of my favorites involved how they used to cut ice out of one of the big bays in Lake Michigan. This was back when everything was still horse powered, for the most part. They would drive the horses & sleighs out onto the ice, cut what they needed out & load it onto the sleighs. This was tough for a lot of reasons - imagine the large gaping holes this left in 150' deep waters by other people that didn't want to go out as far. Well, the weather on the lake changes fast. He was 5 or 6 with his dad one day, cutting ice, when the weather changed. They could not see anything in front of them, let alone where the holes in the ice were, or where the shore was. His dad just dropped the reins and let the horses go. On their own, they pulled the sleigh, ice & the men back to shore in a full on blizzard.
I know some horses don't do that, but most on their own generally know where home is, or even, where the trailer to home is.
Ask Often, Demand Nothing, and Reward Generously.