How Well do I Have to Ride to just Ride My Horse for Pleasure?
Let's start with the operative word "pleasure".
Do you find being out with friends on a trail ride and your horse not crossing the stream a pleasure?
Or when your horse is spooking or bolting away is that a pleasure?
Or is dealing with the frustration of an anxious horse wanting to race back to the barn a pleasure?
Many "pleasure" riders discount the benefit of having a solid equestrian education and some manage to muttle through without having an "incident" occur but most do not.
I find one of the most common reasons for a horse acting up is the rider's lack of balance which translates to confidence on the rider's behalf. People don't realize how often they're giving their horse mixed signals simply due to their lack of control over their own balance.
As far as I see it no rider has the right to hold onto the reins (no matter what discipline) until they can keep proper balance while maintaining proper form during the walk, trot and canter with their hands on their hips going around in a circle on the lunge line.
Can you understand that until a rider has perfect control over their position and most importantly their hands they cannot effectively control nor have the right to control their horse? When a rider looses their balance they often inadvertently yank on the horse's mouth or bang the horse's sides with their legs or crash onto their horse's back causing the horse to react often displeasing the rider thinking his horse is ill willed and it's the poor horse that usually takes the brunt of it. It's just not good or fair for the horse to have to put up with such an experience.
If you feel I could be talking about you then do your horse a favor and seek out some help. Find a serious, reputable trainer that can teach you on a well schooled horse using a lunge line. Being on a lunge line with a trainer that knows what their doing is the fastest way for you to become the balanced rider you feel your horse deserves. You can ride all day in a lesson with a group and it will take you far longer, (if ever) to perfect the balance you need to adequately communicate with your horse.
Just learning how to respond to your horse using your seat and hip angle alone can make the difference between an enjoyable ride and a disaster. It has always baffled me that people will pay massive amounts of money to keep a horse and not invest in a little education while continuing to deal with less than satisfactory encounters with their mount.
With a good trainer sometimes within one lesson you can learn enough about your balance to make a substantial difference in how you relate to your horse while undersaddle. I urge you to give it a try and schedule a session with someone that feels they can help you. If after one lesson you don't feel they've made a big enough difference try someone else. You have to find the right trainer for you and it may take some effort but it will be well worth it and your horse will thank you.