It is well worthwhile to get used to shooting a panorama without a tripod simply because there isn't always one in your back pocket. II agree with much of what you say, but would pick a major quible with:
Originally Posted by slipe
For regular horizontal shots I think it is best to not use a tripod. After a while you get to where you can do a better job without one.
When there is time to use it, a tripod will always improve a shot, panorama or not. If for no other reason than using a tripod slows me down enough to think more about what I am doing, i.e., better composition and exposure.