“I don’t want much, I just want to groom once in a while and go for an easy trail ride here and there”-
This is a statement folks often make, which makes perfect sense from a human point of view. It doesn’t require much time, effort or skill gaining, and the expectation appears low- for the horse to just stand quietly, or happily trod along down the trail.
From a riders perspective, grooming requires relaxing and enjoying brushing their horse. Trail riding usually involves relaxing and leaving the horse mostly alone to enjoy the outdoors and company.
From a horses point of view, however, this is not so easy a task. To ”just be brushed,” the horse has to have enough confidence to leave the herd, the skills to lead well to the barn, the ability to stand tied quietly for a length of time in isolation away from friends, to stay focused enough to stand despite the distractions and movement around them in the barn.
That’s a lot!
To “just trail ride,” the horse has to have the afore mentioned skills, plus load in a trailer, ride in the trailer and unload (those are all separate skills), leave friends quietly and ride calmly past all kinds of input and stimulus- they have to know what rider input to tune into (legs and reins), and which to shut out (rustling around to get a granola bar out of saddle bags, yammering to friends). They have to manage terrain with balance, leave or join other horses, or ride past other people, dogs, bikes, etc. They often have little guidance from a rider who’s expectations and attention to the horse is low (who is relaxing and enjoying company or scenery, not giving attentive communications to the horse).
That’s a TALL order for a horse, and quite a drastic difference in expectation between horse and rider in terms of education, attention and workload.
Think from the horses point of view. Don’t skimp on the education, the awareness, and don’t leave your horse to their own devices for “simple tasks.” A horse is a horse, and not a human- and they see our world very differently. It’s on us to prepare and guide them.