Most people, when going out on a trail ride, like to stay at a nice peaceful walk and if with friends, chat the whole time. So most people don't like a horse that hurries... breaking into a trot, zig zagging on the path and just making for an uncomfortable time. I not only want the horses be able to walk easily and calmly, but to also trot and canter when I want to, on a loose rein and a slower, steady pace. They're not in a hurry to go anywhere. I want to feel like we could walk, trot or canter for miles with no sweat. The paces shouldn't change to fast and hurry.
Either on the way out or on the way back, horses like to hurry right away, more often the hot blooded or younger horses. Or there's the horse who does have a nice steady, easy walk but they could be the lazy ones that have a hard time picking up a pace any faster than a walk. These horses are usually the cold-blooded or/and older horses. With Sugar, she's got more of the first problem. Hurry, hurry, hurry.
In the past she would always wanted to trot off right away. Especially in the beginning she was very excited and nervous because of being out on the trail and not in the arena. I've worked a lot on her spooking and just exploring new trails where there are always obstacles and new objects she needs to learn to go through, over, around, and just be next to without having a heart attack.
But besides being spooked (which now she hardily ever does at all), I needed to teach her not to hurry. I teach her while I'm teaching her everything else on the trails. Because hurrying from place to place doesn't necessarily mean the horse is nervous. It can mean that, but it also can mean the horse is ready to be "done" with the ride. When they're like this, they don't pay attention to you a lot of the time.
I work with this problem by moving the horses' feet. If they want to trot, I'm actually going to let them trot! But I'm going to make it "my" idea. I'll trot them in circles and just move they're feet around until it's just not really fun anymore for them. Then I'll walk them again and if they try to trot again I'll bend them around and move their feet around. This is to make it feel like what they want to do is work. Then back to a easy straight line walk, no work. I'm making the walk feel so easy until that's what the horse really wants. Sometimes it takes a lot of bending and trotting around and sometimes it takes once before he settles down to an easy walk. But the more I work with the horse the faster I get the results until the horse doesn't even dream of hurrying off because he knows it's just mean more work again.
I can use this same technique if the horse is in a hurry to go to a certain place, like to the other horses or back to the barn. I'll work that horse around the barn and make it easy to walk away and rest where I wanted to go. This helps with buddy/barn-sourness.
Another thing I can do, is when I ask the horse to trot or canter down the trail it might be uncomfortably too fast. So I'll pick a tree out and circle that tree a few times, working his feet, then trot or canter off again. But I won't go far until I circle another tree. Depending on how much of a hurry he's in, I'll circle that tree a lot or maybe 2 times before heading off to another tree. It slows the horse down because he'll realize that each time we come to our destination he has to work again. He'll get a slower and easier pace. I can build off of that by making my distance between trees greater. So instead of just a few strides and another "work zone tree", it might be 10 seconds, then 30 seconds, then a minute or two, staying at a nice steady pace. Then I could canter down the path with no problem. The only time I would work him again would be if he quickened his pace without me asking him or I might circle a tree once in awhile down the road. And the longer I walk, trot, canter, the better. He'll have more mileage under his feet and both of us will enjoy the ride SO much more!