Ray Hunt....I was lucky enough to of gone to one of his final clinics. What an awesome teacher! I've got his book as well as Tom Dorrance's book and wow. Both of these men, their ideas and analysis of the horse has helped me the most to make sense of things and more so, make it work.
I got certifed through John Lyons and got a good outline for training.
Dennis Reis is one of the best. He explains the hell out of everything, down to it all and is a great inspiration. I've followed his ideas and methods to get past some pretty rough issues with horses.
One horse in particular, a 6 yr old Tennesee Walker that had lived on a Colorado range his whole life as a stallion on 2,000 acres. Was pulled off the ranch, gelded, branded, vaccinated, and stuffed into a trailer, incarcerated in a cynder block "cell" (stall with nothing but a tiny window to the outside)...all within a very short period of time..... was a "karate kicker"....and with the help of Dennis Reis' training ideals, it took me 2 weeks to get him to relax and start to get some good ground manners.
Clinton Anderson has taught me to push the horse harder (in a good and fair way) and has bolstered my training methods with lots of troubled horses as well as with unbroke horses....to get them started.
I've also learned A LOT from Chris Cox. I think this guy kicks big time butt. Every chance I get, I'll see him in person, and he's amazing. To the point and direct. I think he's more of a trainer's trainer, though, as some of the stuff he does, I wouldn't recommend to a beginner.
I like Clinton Anderson's ground work that mixes in with John Lyons bridlework.....
I like Richard Winters, too, but some of the stuff he does, I wouldn't teach to beginners. He's proven that this so called "natural horsemanship" (or whatever you want to call it...training without the trauma/nor inflicting pain).....is a great basic foundation for Western Pleasure, which is what he does.
Stacey Westfall, a reining competitor like Clinton Anderson, also proves that this psychological approach to training works great for her chosen discipline. I like that she takes it a step further and goes bridleless with a lot of her stuff, but beginning with basically the same ground work as CA does.
The way I see it.....everybody has their own approach, slightly different than each....but the basic ideas and psycological approach is the same....the human is taking the lead role, just like a horse would take the lead role.
I really love this approach as it's proven time and again, easier on the horse and easier on me.
And I get real respect and trust, not fear.