Respect what you and your horse are capable of
Let’s say you’ve schooled your horse only in an arena, and feel confident he’ll stop, turn, and obey leg aids. You’re ready to tackle the great outdoors!
Make it a positive experience by being in complete control of the environment on these first rides outside. Keep it as distraction-free as possible. Realize on the first outdoor trips, you won’t be riding off into the sunset, climbing mountains and fording rivers. Setting too high of expectations will almost certainly set you back on the training. Start simple and gain confidence in each other.
Like humans, horses need to go through grade school first. Be content with with baby steps, because you’ll accomplish more in bonding and trust with your horse. This is how you teach horses to believe in you, and why they’ll try any obstacle – just for you. It will be because you taught them to trust you. It means a huge responsibility on you, which comes back to my original statement: respect what you and your horse are capable of. Trying to do much too soon backfires.
Here’s my best example of training the slow, but sure way. We encountered an intimidating obstacle at a trail competition. My horse, JD, had certainly never been through a deep, fog-filled ditch. Not the usual sort of thing you practice for! But because of establishing trust and being patient on his training, he did not refuse. JD carefully felt his way through that scary ditch without any urging.
I was beyond proud!