Just getting different perspective. I figure that if you can't get a horse to come back to you under saddle after he gets spooked, you need to go back to the arena and work on communication. If your handwalking a horse and he starts to spook or rear, he's much bigger than you and it's easier for him to get away from you. From the saddle, at least you can stay with him and continue to give clear communication to bring back under control. A lot also depends on the horse. My guys are worked in the arena until we have clear communication and trust built. Only then will I take them out to the road. Most the time I will partner with a veteran horse, but on certain horses I will take them out solo. Either way, I keep cues consistant and familiar so they only have to focus on new surroundings rather than a new way of riding.
That said, I've seen plenty of horses being ridden on the road that really have no business being ridden out there and at that point would be better off handwalked. But I feel that they are missing some basics that need to be worked through in an arena, that they are lacking communication with their rider. Getting off to bring a horse's attention back to you would be a smart move if you can't get his attention from his back.
Maybe it's just about where the rider feels safest? Where we feel safest, we'll have less tension/nerves and will be able to direct our horse more clearly (whether from ground or saddle). So maybe it's more of a question of where we feel safer or more confident handling our horses.
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