Okay, my turn ;).
I have been riding most of my life with the last 15 years doing more than just being a passenger on a well trained horse. I have worked with some great trainers over the years including a German (from Germany) Dressage/Eventing trainer, classical and competitive American Dressage trainers, H/J trainers, a John Lyons trainer, an NH trainer who used a hodge-podge of the different gurus along with his own methods, two Sally Swift centered riding instructors, and my last trainer was one who did ALL of the evens for Arabian shows, Paints, and open shows (both Arab and Paints up to the World/Nationals level).
I myself have only done limited showing due to time and budget constraints. The training above took enough of my money early on, lol.
I ride western and English. I train my horses to neck rein, jog, and lope, as well as to jump, lengthen the trot/canter, and collect (true collection, not just going slower).
For the past 4-5 yrs I have been on my own. I have developed my own "way" based on those experiences. I use a mixture of NH and traditional methods, basically whatever works, lol. Each horse and each situation is different, so I try to figure out what will work best, and move on when it doesn't. I am not a professional trainer. I train my own and help friends when they ask for it. I also enjoy relating my experiences on line when I can.
The first principle that I ascribe to is R-E-S-P-E-C-T! I want 100% solid ground manners first and foremost. I do a lot of in-hand work on the lead (from both sides) and on the lunge. I will do some round pen work when I have access to a round pen (my new house that the horses are moving to TOMORROW! YEAH! Does not have a round pen and likely won't). When I don't have a round pen, I use a long 15' lead and do work on that. I teach my horses to ground tie, come when called, and respect my space. They learn to take treats nicely, back off from their food when I say, and stand with one or two feet in a bucket (this is a HUGE help when you have one with an abscess or other reason to soak a foot/leg).
To accomplish this I use some NH methods, a handy Dressage whip, and a lunge whip. My horses are not afraid of the whip, but they do respect it. It is an extension of me, what I would do with my hand if I could. I do not use endless repetition. Once they get it, we move on. We only revisit an early lesson if they get rusty or just need a "tune up" after some time off. With my two current horses, I haven't done (major) ground work with them in about 2-3 years. They are still very well behaved in the saddle and out, and people who visit are always amazed at how well they behave. They are both happy to see me and eager to spend time together. I expect them to be good. When they're not, they get a quick but firm correction, and we move on.
In the saddle I use Classical Dressage fundamentals, back to front training, with the aid of my Dressage whip if needed. On my current horses, I haven't had to ride with a Dressage whip in 2-3 years, but I will if I have to. It helps get their attention behind my leg. I don't like to kick a lot or wear spurs, so the whip helps reinforce my leg (I apply the whip behind my leg on the barrel, right next to the flank). If my horse acts up, I correct with the whip on the shoulder, recollect myself and the horse, and move on. I will try to figure out WHY my horse acted up and correct that, but I do not appreciate poor behavior, no matter what the cause. I am very anal about my horse's tack fit, placement, condition, and their teeth/mouth health, so that is never the cause. If the horse is just bored or distracted, then we do what we were doing quickly, then move on to something else. If the horse doesn't understand (which is still no reason for poor behavior), then I'll try different approaches until we find one that works.
I agree with whoever said, ALWAYS end on a GOOD note! Horses are like people, they have good and bad days. On a bad day, we do VERY simple saddle work, and quit while we're ahead. If I can see things will be bad before we start, then we'll just go on a "walk" in hand. Let the horse relax and work on some minor ground work while we're at it. I let them graze in hand and just explore (but making sure that I'm walking the horse, not the other way around, lol). This is a great bonding experience for you and your horse, and lets them experience things without the stress of having a rider. One new trails we ALWAYS walk the horse in hand for at least part of the way until they relax. Walking in hand also helps your horse learn to depend on the handler for comfort/support, instead of another horse. Buddy or barn sour horses are such a pain to work with...
Wow, okay, I'm writing a book, lol. Sorry everyone
. What it all boils down to is RESPECT, and doing whatever it takes to attain that.
If NH works, then good. If not, I move on to traditional methods. Once respect is earned, we keep moving forward!