But a slap in response to an attempted kick or bite is way, way worse than 250 lbs slamming down on the horses back. Yuppers...
OR, the long shanked curb bit that is being yanked on too. Parelli has a horse that gaped it's mouth!? OMG!!
I punish my horses as necessary when they really misbehave. All of mine that I ride (Denny, Dobe, Koda) were farther into the fear spectrum when I got them. Denny had been horribly abused, Dobe had never been touched, and Koda had very little handling more than 4 years ago. Until they learned what was expected of them, I never hit them because they were scared enough already. However, once they figured out that they didn't need to fear me, they started to test me. Dobe was a leaner and personal space invader. He figured out that I was a member of his herd and not a predator so he started to try to assert his dominance. He walked into me one time and stepped on my foot. I slapped the crap out of his shoulder and then ran at him while tapping him on the chest making him back up. I did that for about 20 steps then just stopped everything and let him think for a minute. When he stood still, I went up and gave him a scratch on the shoulder to say "Okay, you screwed up and got punished but everything is okay now." He has never offered to invade my space again.
Denny started to be a real bear to catch. He would stand like an angel until I got my arm around his neck and then he would take off. He wasn't afraid of anything, he just was being a butt. So I put him in a round pen and walked up to catch him. When he took off and turned his butt to me, he got a huge pop with the lead rope and I continued to MAKE him lope around the round pen. Every time he would try to stop, I would encourage him to really move and if he didn't, he got popped again on the butt. It only took a couple of times of this for him to figure out that it was not okay to lunge away from me just to avoid being caught. Now, he is a statue when I walk up to him even in a 30 acre pasture.
All of mine get a small pop every now and then just to remind them when they step over the line. And as you can see, they are scarred for life and absolutely terrified of me.
What ruins a horse is not that they were
hit, it is when
, and how forcefully
. Giving a horse a pop on the shoulder when he is ignoring rules that he knows is completely different from hitting a horse for every little indescretion like continuing to swish his tail after you put your hand on his butt or spooking at a loud noise. That is how Denny was abused. His owner talked her "cowboy" boyfriend into trying to train him. Every time Denny would spook and jump, the guy would get scared, jump, and beat Denny as punishment for spooking. He even broke one of his teeth with a 2x4. Yet, I can ask him for anything and he has not been afraid of me since after the first few times I messed with him. He will still get a pop when he breaks a rule that he knows but he is far from "ruined".
I understand that the anti-force NH followers seem to have had good luck with your methods and I applaud you for it. But, for it to be said that someone who gives a horse a smack when they need it is cruel, ignorant, or not a true horseman is just as offensive as when someone tells you that fluffy tactics don't work and you are silly for using them. I know that I have been guilty of the latter in the past but I think that everyone needs to look at the other side of the coin for a minute. Every horse is different and every particular method of training is different. No one method will work on every horse and not every method will work on one horse. That is why it is so important to understand horse dynamics and instincts. Some horses have
to be punished for bad behavior and others freak at the slightest hint of force. IMHO, no one person can be a true horseman until they have mastered the entire spectrum.