I tried real hard to stay out of this conversation, Loosie is doing a wonderful job explaining it all. And clearly this audience isn't welcome to food based rewards. While I try to only offer those sorts of suggestions to people open to new thoughts and ideas and I try not to force it on people who clearly, in their mind have decided food rewards are not right (for whatever reason they've chosen).
But I had to step in here. I don't mind if people have varying opinions - but get your facts straight before you make wide-spread accusations.
Positive reinforcement makes no more pushy horses than negative reinforcement. Used correctly it makes wonderful, kind willing horses, the same as negative reinforcement. Used poorly can result in dangerous situations - also the same results as negative reinforcement used poorly.
The reason many people opt for positive reinforcement vs. negative reinforcement (or opt to add
positive reinforcement onto their existing training using negative reinforcement) is because it gives you more options.
Some horses would need to be truly brutalized to be able to force
them to do something soley through negative reinforcement. But with the addition of positive reinforcement the amount of force can be reduced (or even eliminated in willing horses).
The idea that food=pushy horses, I agree with Loosie, is the same as whips=whip shy horses. I would even go on to say that positive reinforcement has proved itself so strong
a training tool that horses will grasp concepts and skills faster than a human may have intended.
A horse at a professional jumping stable I work at has trained all the stable hands that when he kicks his wall he wants more hay. One day he probably kicked the wall out of frustration - they fed him to shut him up. Now he's learned that wall-kicking=food reward. No human intended for him to learn that, and being a terrible habit no one likes it, but they did train him to do that.
While on the other hand food rewards can also produce very polite, willing horses when the reward is timed as appropriately as a release of pressure. This is why
we use a clicker or some other bridging agent. I certainly can't feed my horse while I'm teaching her to trot undersaddle. But I can click when she picks up the trot, at the same time as I release the pressure with my legs and when we stop the trot I'll lean forward and give her her treat. She knows click=yes so I don't need to be shoving food in her mouth while
she's trotting, I can wait until after because the click clearly marked the action I want to see more of.
There is much
more to positive reinforcement and the benefits of using it. But there is already a very well written thread, written by people far more experienced than myself, that explains the psychology behind CT, how and why it works, and how to use it safely and effectively for horses. If you're interested in learning about positive reinforcement please read it - if you are not
interested in learning about it, please don't go around telling everyone how terrible it is when you don't actually
understand the way it works.
Here's the thread for reference: Clicker Training: Challenge Accepted
ETA: OP, sounds like your stallion is coming along well, congrats :)