I'm not sure if this is the right place to post this, but I just read this article again after a long time and realize it is even more true today than when I first read it so many years ago:
Instead, Let's Try to Understand
It greatly saddens me that the days of little girls and their horse partners are gone. The woods and trails we rode are now housing projects and strip malls. It all has been replaced by high powered horses and structured "training" of both horse and human.
I thought for awhile that the training methods had improved to the benefit of the horse, but sadly, I was wrong, I can't even watch these well known "trainers." The appalling cruelty just blows my mind. I can't believe these trainers even have a following. The fact that the horses learn anything at all is a tribute to their intelligence and adaptability. Much of it is no better than the old "tie 'em down and buck them to a standstill" method from years ago.
They are not all bad, these trainers, but let your heart decide whether you want your horse to be exposed to these methods. Horses are extremely smart. They don't need painful repetition, they don't need to be terrorized into a "safe place." Once a horse understands a point, he never forgets. Make all your interactions with your horse as positive as you can, give him the benefit of the doubt. Horses are never wrong. Try to become his partner. If something negative happens, try again.
Horses are very forgiving. Reinforce positive - and avoid negative - situations, if you can. If a horse doesn't stand without ripping out cross ties, groom and tack up in his stall. Find the easiest, safest ways for the both of you in all dealings. Don't set the horse up for failure. Treat him/her like a beloved child. Show him what you want. Sometimes they need time to figure things out. You see that "aha" moment when they get it.
I was watching one well known western trainer as he forced a young horse to do a "departure into a lope, from a standstill, onto the correct lead, at the correct speed, with its head flexed behind the vertical, while giving to the bit to the left." Huh? I couldn't figure out what was going on, let alone this good horse, who was never rewarded by a release of pressure! This beautiful horse had no spirit left, he just gave in because there was no escape. He took the punishment and abuse because he was given no choices at all, until he accidentally landed on the right combination the trainer wanted. He was dull and broken. I had to change the channel. I could not watch anymore.
I'm not saying a horse doesn't need to be given a swat every now and then for an act of disrespect or foolishness (that is how they discipline each other, after all). Just stay within their rules. It's so much easier that way.
Horse and human partnerships must always be at least 51% for the human, 49% for the horse. That 1% for you makes you the respected head of the team. Use it to your advantage and have fun with your potential life mate and best friend. Your horse is capable of loving you all of its life.