I figured out many years ago that horses are amazing animals. They can do things most riders, regardless of their experience level, will not do. I have found that many riders will get off and walk in places the horse will not even hesitate at, and sometimes the rider's hesitation and fear makes matters worse.
Point in question: I was once out with my wife and a couple others. We came to a switchback on a steep mountainside that was blocked by a large Ponderosa Pine that had fallen across the trail about 50 feet or so from the switchback. The horses stood patiently while the riders tried to figure out what to do. I, being at the back of the line, told the lead rider to turn and just ride down to the trail below, but he would not do it. The horses became jittery and frustrated on the narrow trail, because they wanted to keep moving. Finally, I just turned and headed down the hill to the trail, about 100 feet below, hoping to demonstrate how simple a thing it was. Sure it was steep, but no problem at all for the horse. The others decided to lead their horses down the hill..note I said LEAD. I couldn't believe how they thought it was safer to come down the hill in front of their horse than to ride it down! Then they tied their horses on the trail below, directly below the rest of the others coming down! Our pack horse caused a problem and we nearly had a huge wreck on that sidehill. It might have all been avoided had the lead rider just turned and walked his horse down the hill to the trail and the rest followed.
Of course riding extreme trails, like Painted Horse posted, requires knowing your horse pretty well. The horse has to trust the rider, but the rider must also trust his mount. Learning to do that requires some miles on trails that are more than simple side roads.
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