You control the horse or the horse controls you. There is no middle ground.
I very respectfully reply:
That's probably why it was such a great thing that I found the powerhouse in my avatar instead of someone else
I don't like the word control -- either for my horses or myself; we are all very well mannered.
I say "yes sir, no sir, please and thank you". My powerhouse fella has never bit, kicked, reared, or bucked a day in his alpha-dominant life while being ridden. Even when the sorry awrse horse came running up beside us (who was NOT in control) and kicked him hard on his hind leg. All my Fella did was speed up and move far ahead to get away from the jerkface.
I let him be who he wants to be, within reason, the same as my mom had the good sense to let my little busybody self be who I needed to be, within reason, when I was growing up. I'm sure the county sheriff never knew how lucky we all were that was on a dairy farm where I was kept perpetually busy.
If my Powerhouse Guy wants to hot foot it the last half mile home, with me walking beside him saying "slow down, mummie can't walk that fast", that's fine with me. Somehow we always got that done without me holding onto him and without him taking advantage and just running off. I was huffing along with his butt at my shoulder more than once.
I say was because he's now 24, has serious metabolic issues, and my issues aren't worth mentioning. We no longer come slidin' in sideways at 6:00 AM from a night out, wondering what we're going to do with the rest of the day
My point is, yes there is too a middle ground; one just has to know how, and be willing, to achieve it in a mannerly way. I have four horses with four distinct personalities and ways of going -- they each have different boundaries because they each view "freedom" in a different light