This was posted on a forum by Jamison and I was given permission to post and I thought it deserved its own page!!
* A great trail horse is consistent in its paces. You should be able to put this horse on a lose rein and it will continue to go forward at your desired speed, stopping nor slowing down and certainly not speeding up. The horse should cruise control at the walk, trot, and canter. Your horse should not change its speed for anything, including heading back to the barn or other horses trotting in front. Strictly no jigging. No constant kicking. Cruise control.
* Three solid, enjoyable gaits. A medium walk, medium trot, and relaxed, easy canter.
* Neck reining. I mean real neck reining, where you can stop, turn, and shift gears without using more than one hand.
* Independent. No buddy sourness. A good trail horse is focused on its job.
* Stand for mounting, on and off sides.
* Ground tie.
* Stand tied to anything: trees, trailers, posts, fences, cross ties, any kind of ties in those scary horse camps, etc.
* Not be afraid of water in any form. Muddy puddles, small, narrow streams, wide shallow creek crossings, deep dark rivers. You'd be surprised how some horses cross some types of water and are bad about others. My horse use to be able to cross wide streams and rivers, but would jump narrow creeks.
* Climb steep, rocky hills without scrambling. Climb hills quietly without breaking into a trot. Horses LOVE rushing up hills.
* Same with down hills. Horses like trotting at the end of long downhills. It's annoying and sometimes dangerous.
* Leg yield. When you're on the trail and avoiding holes, being able to yield your horse in both directions is nice. The horse shouldn't trot off when asked to leg yield.
* BACK. Backing is important for safety! Horses should be able to back into and out of tight spaces, back through turns, back around trees. If you're on the end of a trail and can't turn around, sometimes you have to back out. Sometimes you have to back out a long way too, so no fighting the back up command. Head down, submissive, and soft in the mouth.
*Side pass. Side-passing is the hardest thing in the world for me, but if you're going to do CTRs, they're going to ask. I've also found uses for it in real life, but not as much as backing.
* STAND. Whoa means whoa! Stand means no more motion in any direction. Just standing still is one of the best things a horse can learn.
* Load into a trailer. Never bring a horse that takes a struggle to load to a CTR . For safety reasons, a horse should get into a trailer right when you ask -- no two or three or 10 minute struggle required. If your horse is hurt at a CTR and the "horse ambulance" arrives, your horse should get on. If something happens and you have to get your horse into a trailer quickly, he better get in there QUICKLY. When you're ready to go home after a long day competing, your horse better get in that trailer. One poor lady got struck at a CTR for two days because her horse wouldn't load.
* Drink and eat on the trail. Your horse should drink water from the saddest looking mud puddle and eat whatever grass offered. He should eat only with permission. I taught my horse it was okay to eat when I push down on her poll.
If I think of any more, I'd add them. A good trail horse is tough to train.