Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: Tri-State (IA, WI, IL) area
Discipline, I'd say, is something that is intended to correct behavior, but does not cause the horse to be injured. Just sorta something that gets their attention and maybe causes a slight startle.
Abuse would be anything that physically injures the horse.... cutting it, whipping it repeatedly for no reason, with holding necessities without good reason...
I think self-defense needs it's own category: if a 1000+lb horse is coming at you, you're likely to need to make a quick judgment call, and I'm sure it won't be a gentle tap on the nose or whatever. Especially for small children or someone inexperienced with horses.
I can think of one example that probably would've counted as abuse from what you all have been saying. A horse that my uncle had once, a big 16+hh stud, was known to get vicious in the pasture around mares in heat. He'd never hurt anyone, yet, but we all knew it was a possibility. I'd taken to carrying a walking stick with me when ever I had to go in his pasture (which I rarely did... he was alone in a pasture.). On one particular day, I was in his pasture (I've forgotten why) and he rushed at me several times, biting adn kicking at me, until I finally swung around with that walking stick and cracked him across the chest, maybe once or twice. He paused long enough for me to slip through to the opposite side of the fence. My unle told me later that I had, apparently, broken skin. (That horse has since been put down, after taking a chunk out of my uncle's arm.)
That may've been considered abuse by some of you, but I felt that my life was in danger, and that was the best option I had at hand.