My boyfriend's two nieces, ages 8 and 11, take riding lessons and of course, they love talking about the ponies in their lessons. It always saddens me a little bit, because much of their chat is about how the pony did x (which can be pretty much anything) and the instructor's interpretation was "the pony is being naughty. Kick him harder." My personal feeling is that this is the wrong paradigm of equine behaviour to be teaching children (or anyone): the naughtiness-punishment method of dealing with any behaviour you don't like. And there is no need for it. When I taught children to ride, I would say stuff like, "If you sit up really tall and hold the reins like you're holding an egg, you'll help him trot," rather than asking the kid to smack the horse for not trotting when the reason the horse isn't trotting is imbalance in the rider.
I completely agree with you, and this is where I feel a lot of budding riders fail within themselves when they lease/buy a first pony as they have taught if the horse doesn't do something, its 100% the horse's fault and beat it! I admittedly WAS one of them till I was pulled off a horse and had a whip across the back of my thighs.
BUT saying that, you learn from your mistakes and no one is born with knowledge of how to handle a horse