This thread is making me laugh because I so badly want to be "just a trail rider."
There are no trails where my lease mare is, so we ride endless circles around the arena "working on things" and no amount of serpentines, figure 8s, or trot poles livens it up. I know she is bored too. But, even the outdoor arena puts her on edge, so I have serious doubts that she'd ever make the transition to being a reliable mount out in the real world.
I'm thinking hard about my horsey future, which I really want to involve having a couple of horses at home with an eye towards long distance riding (should be feasible in our mountainous part of NH). However, I don't know anyone who has the same goals and ambitions, and I'm really scared to ask for advice about buying a "trail horse" as my first horse, since I think most of the horse people I know would completely misinterpret that based on some of the stereotypes covered here and steer me in the wrong direction.
I work intense 10 hour days doing statistical research, and at the end of them, I want to be outside, under the sun and trees, thinking about nothing but the trail ahead of us. Counting the arena door going by is just not doing it for me, so I'm trying to be patient and know that some day in the not-so-distant future, I might be able to join your "just trail riders" club too!