Well, yes I "just trail ride" but you "just ride in an arena". And not that most people don't take their horses out on the "trails", but I'd like to see an "arena broke" horse do the things out on the trails that I do with mine! Not saying that a great arena horse can't excel out here either, my mare was trained for WP, halter, and reining, didn't take to it. She is a monster on the trails.
Criteria (please add to it) for why I think Trail Riding is a very difficult sport in the horse world:
1. A horse must be sane. It is very difficult to encounter all of the different elements of nature with a hot blooded horse.
2. Physically fit. You can't expect a pasture puff to haul your tail over mountains for over at least 15 to 25 miles and usually more, multiple days, across multiple terrains.
3. Broke, Broke, Broke. Taking the chance on a green horse without SOLID training 25 miles away from home is dangerous. PERIOD.
4. Athletic Willing Attitude. A lesson horse can take you through the paces, but when you need to scale a sheer hillside, jump a 3ft. Log, and swim a lake AFTER riding 25 miles, you need a horse with some go, go, go.
5. Surefooted donkey horse. Sure any horse can walk a road or gallop around an arena, but can they safely wind around a steep rocky cliff and not fall over and take you with them?
A trail rider:
1. Physically fit. Most people can sit a horse in an arena and even properly jump with a bit of training. Can they ride up and down mountains, keeping their horse balanced and fit over countless miles of terrain? And still walk the next day?
2. Be Sane. Most people can direct their horse around an enclosure, but can they encounter a mountain lion and not flip their lid or let their horses do so? Keep their cool/seat when a horse bolts/shies from a snake?
3. Know first Aid. Without being feet from a stocked barn or in cell service to call for an emergency?
4. Train Said Horse Above?
I'm not bashing anyone! Trail riding is difficult and a world unto it's own.
Give it and yourselves some credit you awesome trail blazers!
Please feel free to add!!