thanks all for the interesting replies. I want to clarify that I wasn't really talking about western riding because they hold the reins differently and thus are allowed to have longer shanks and stuff like that. I, however, hate the sharp, thin, high ported bits that you sometimes see. As for spurs, I know you would get laughed at in the western world but blunt stubs are so much more humane than thin rowels and other implements.
I agree with the people who say a 'spanking' (seriously, no harder than you would hit your kid - sure, they are big 'n tough but that just makes disrespect a more dangerous issue, and pain=disrespect). However it has become the practice around my area to hit a horse pretty **** hard if he does something wrong under saddle. Not cool, man, not cool.
As for on the ground, in the barn, I hate when people use a crop to hit a horse who paws or to reprimand an attempted bite or kick- look at the whip like a set of claws or sharp canines, a defense weapon. Now think about pitting a wild cat against your horse... while he is tied up in the barn... how is that fair? Trust me, that horse isn't going to welcome that cat aboard.
I think an open handed smack is appropriate for a bite or kick. It's fine even if it stings them a bit. On the ground, you are equals (except that he is tied up, but if he is kicking and biting during gentle things, it isn't the tying up that's the problem- it's respect. And besides, he certainly wins the muscle comparison, so it balances out), and his other equals would have no qualms about striking out to keep him in check.
For the people who say they are all just dandy little tools, tools that are meant to intensify pressure on sensitive areas, are you okay with that? I mean, I do not get the hammer reference, that piece of wood couldn't care less how clumsy it's carpenter is, a horse isn't a piece of wood though. Is it your opinion that a skilled rider should use these tools?
I think that, if you are skilled, the evidence of that lies in that you don't need those tools.
~Claire, the frog in the desert