For the second time in a week, my friend and I have gone trail riding and got hidiously lost. We're talking miles off course. In both cases, despite neither horse ever having been there, the horse's knew the way back to the trailer. How in the world do they do that?? Yesterday we were at least 2 miles away and had not repeated any section of the trail. I know my horse has never been there. Yet he just kept looking and pulling me left as if to say, "it's over there dummy!" I am amazed by their ability to find their way home, particulary since my horse only knew his way around a race track for the first few years of his life. Can all horses do this?
Not ALL horses will do it, but many will. Some are a LOT better than others. My girl Lisa will get back to the trailer or barn that she came from in a heartbeat, but Jade is only just now learning which way home is and she's been here close to 8 months I think.
When I was about 13, I lived in the Ozark hills and we had mules. We went for a long trail ride and got lost. We trecked through horrible thorns and boulders. I had bleeding scratches everywhere. It was getting dark and I actually got scared. We finally gave up and let the mules lead us home. It was almost pitch dark outside and we made it home at about 10:00 at night. The mules took us straight home. It was really amazing and very humbling at the same time.
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.
I think that many horses have almost a sixth sense of where danger is or which way to go to get home. Horses will step around holes or jump over ditches that are completely covered with grass and you have to dig through the grass to see them.
Haha I was riding this horse on a new trail for the first time. We were out about 3 hours and probably half way through to loop and I stopped at a friends house, tied her to a tree and she freaked, broke her lead and bolted. That horse was standing at the enterance to the barn by the time we were able to drive back (about 10 minute drive!) I couldnt believe it. Smart little mustang she was :0)