You're not offending me in any way. It is a reasonable question. Let me explain it further.
Horses do not NATURALLY like to be touched. A touch from another horse makes most of them move. In observing herd behavior, I see about all of them move away accept when they decide to engage in mutual grooming. Initially, a touch from a person makes them move if you can even touch them at all even if you are the one that feeds them.
Horses must be CONDITIONED to accept touch. Obviously, a part of training is to TEACH or CONDITION horses to accept touch or we would be unable to put on a halter or groom them or do much of anything with them. Each person has to decide how much of this CONDITIONING they want a horse to accept. Obviously, no conditioning results in a wild, scared, untouchable horse that is really difficult to get to do anything you want or need. But, this SHOULD be a conscious decision. The less you CONDITION them to this, the more NATURAL they stay and your program can stay.
Now comes the hard part: How much TOUCH or CONTACT do you want a horse to be CONDITIONED to? For me, this is a very conscious decision. I decide early on how SENSITIVE I want a horse to be. When I was training reining, reined cowhorse and cutting horses, I got them gentle and easy to handle, CONDITIONED them to accept everything they NEEDED to accept, but did little scratching and petting. The more SENSITIVE they were, the less pressure was needed to be applied to get them to move away from it. So, it was a lot easier and more pleasant for both horse and rider if they were not 'leaning into petting' and were left more NATURAL and more SENSITIVE TO TOUCH. There is a fine balance between having a horse that has learned to love being petted on and a horse that is very light and responsive, listens and has good manners. If this was not so, we would not see all of the posts on tis forum asking about horses that knock people down, rub on people, step on feet and refuse to move over or back up when asked. These are NOT pleasant horses to train and seldom become top show horses or really impressive cowhorses or reiners.
Is this making any sense. How many of you have heard experienced horsemen and trainers say "I would rather train an untouched horse than a 'pocket pony' or pet?" This is because a PET has been so conditioned to be petted (made worse by hand feeding and letting them rub on you) that you or a trainer have to apply SO MUCH pressure to make them move that you frequently have to be very rough with them or they just stay DULL and INSENSITIVE. A good trainer can be much kinder and NATURALLY LIGHTER with an untouched horse than a PET. A happy medium for me is a horse that accepts touch but has not been conditioned to like it so much that they have become insensitive.
When I am halter breaking a baby, I scratch it on its 'itchy spot'. This is the spot that runs from its shoulder to its withers. This is the 'mutual grooming' spot that horses love. So, while making the foal have good manners, I can get them to accept touch (and me as a 'herd member') and turn that into accepting me putting on a halter and being touched and rubbed. I can soon walk up to them. Once I can do that, I handle them very little until they go into training. I want them sensitive to touch and pressure. I just want them GENTLE enough to handle.
[This is why you never see me answering a post about "What can I do with my yearling?" My answer would be to just leave them alone and let them grow up. Put them in the biggest pasture you can with the roughest, most varied terrain to help them develop good feet and legs and strong muscles and leave them the heck alone. Not a very popular answer, I'm afraid, so I just stay away from such threads.]
When I train horses to be trail horses and general saddle horses, I want them to be gentle enough to touch, but do not want them to be pets. I will go through all of their schooling while they are very sensitive. Some horses are pretty 'aloof' and are always very sensitive and really never learn to like to be touched. That does not bother me at all. I like them and respect their very nature. BUT, in selling trail horses and saddle horses I have found that most recreational riders want a 'pocket pony'. So, I CONDITION these horses AFTER THEY ARE PRETTY WELL TRAINED (and my trail horses I use myself) to not only ACCEPT but to LIKE contact. I can simply do this by scratching their 'itchy spot' when they come up to me IN THE PASTURE and the more wary ones will get a cattle cube right after I put their halter on. I work on training first just because it is easier (and I can stay much lighter) if they learn to move from pressure when they are more 'wary' or even a little 'goosy'. I can always teach them to "like' contact.
People often confuse a horse being a PET with a 'BOND'. I consider a BOND to be when a horse is really TUNED IN to what I am thinking and want and they do it before I even ask. They trust my judgement even when I ask them to do something they would not naturally do. They go where I want them to go even though they really do not want to go there. They ACCEPT what I want without pushing back or having to be convinced. I can use 'LIGHT' imperceptible 'aids'. They TRUST me totally and are happy about it -- ears up and working, alert but not fearful, tail relaxed and 'quiet', not nervous or tense. And when I ask for something, an ear briefly points back toward me and the response is instant without any resistance or tensing up and absolutely no fear. This is definitely not a 'mindless zombie', is it?
But, behind it all, a horse NATURALLY does not want to be touched. So the more you respect that NATURAL quality of a horse and learn to work WITH it, the more NATURAL you can keep your training techniques and the less pressure you have to apply to get the desired response.