I didn't read all the opinions on this thread but I think it comes down to one statement, If your horse can't trail ride it's not trained properly. A spooky horse doesn't trust its rider, and a rider that lets a horse spook because the horse is 'nervous' or a 'spooky breed' is even worse than a spooky horse. Don't make excuses for a lack of ability....but I don't buy the idea that horses can't trail ride.
Aw hell, I've gotta respond!
Yes, if you put enough training into it, most any horse can learn to be a trail horse. But some horses have more fears than others, and some take longer to train than others, and some of us are not professional riders or trainers and didn't grow up on horseback.
So yeah, some of us have a lot of work cut out for us to turn our horses into a decent trail horse. If that is our goal.
For me, it is. I don't think Mia will be worth a darn overall until she first becomes a trail horse. But she's the sort of horse who spent her first 4 months with us breaking into a lather-sweat just standing by herself in a corral.When I first took her out on a lead rope, she would stumble over a 4" rock because she didn't know the ground wasn't always level. Even now, her preferred canter is with her nose just off the ground, and it has taken a lot of work in an arena
to start teaching her to canter with some balance. To her credit, she gallops fine...just doesn't like to stop.
More arena work!
A horse like that doesn't just go out on the trails once or twice and act calm. I couldn't count how many times we've gone out, but she is finally not doing The OMG Crouch
every 100 yards or jumping sideways three times an hour. If I were a pro, or if I was born on a horse, or if I was God's Gift to Horses, that might not matter. But I'm none of those things. And I'm all Mia has.
And frankly, folks can take this whole "Ride the Bond" bucket of horse poop and toss it somewhere other than my direction. Mia has proven to my satisfaction that she'll follow me darn near anywhere if she sees me. I brought her thru a thicket last summer where she was darn near crawling. I was on my knees in front of her (not safe). She had her eyes squeezed shut, the branches were catching on the saddle and stirrups...and she crawled blindly behind me with a finger of pressure on the lead rope. But when I'm on her back, she sometimes forgets I'm there. That is why calling her name was the most reliable way to stop her in a bolt. That is why talking to her and playing some with the bit keeps her calm. Or calmer.
A well broke horse has a habit of obedience to cues. It doesn't spend its time wondering if its rider is Superman or Supergirl. That is why my other 2 horses, both ex ranch horses, will go anywhere you point them. They don't ask, "Is bsms feeling confident today?" Mia's problem is that she is a nervous horse who lived most of her life in a corral. That is why I need to turn her into a trail horse. Once she does that, she'll be darn good at most anything else.
But I'm all she has. And I'm not perfect. I had an injury a few months after I started riding and it made me feel very mortal. Even now, 4.5 years later, my lower right back is sore from both riding and jogging on the same day. So yeah, it is a training issue. For me.
But darn it all, why is it so hard to accept that some folks just don't WANT
to ride on a trail? If dressage isn't for everyone (and it ain't for me), then why does every horse and rider need to go on trails? I have no desire to do reining, but a lot of people love it. What is wrong with that?
Heck, if someone would build a 1-1.5 mile racetrack near me and let me take Mia there, I could cheerfully skip the trail riding and just gallop her. We both enjoy it. And then I could bring her back home and feed her, and we would both be happy. For both of us, the main pleasure in a trail ride is fining a place we can go fast without having to turn every 100 feet. There aren't many places like that near me.
What makes trail riding superior to any other riding? Different? Yes. Worthy of respect? Yes. Superior? Sorry, ain't buying that one.