Hmm. I was (and still am) one of those people that want my horses to be pets, not just modes of transportation. Because I always figured, if you didn't care about the relationship, it is probably cheaper just to get an ATV or bicycle. So I really want a friendship and partnership with my horses.
Everyone is right, respect needs to be first and foremost. Because I always bought previous broke and trained trail horses, I never really had a problem with respect and just pretty much spoiled my horses rotten. I think we both liked it that way and because of their previous handling they never really crossed any lines.
I discovered how important respect was when my mare had a foal. I KNEW not to make him spoiled and enforce rules, but somehow he became a bit of a brat anyway. Not a bad brat, but a horse that thinks highly of himself and questions decisions I make.
But he's coming along as a riding horse (he's almost 6 now). But it would have been easier I think if I had never handled him at all rather than imprint him and have him tag along with me every time I went riding. He got a TON of trail experience from a young age but is still spooky and sometimes questions my authority. On the bright side, he stands perfectly next to any object for mounting and isn't afraid of anything I do on him from the saddle.......tarps, slickers, plastic bags, etc. One time I even rode him home with a cluster of balloons!
His mother has to be the sweetest horse EVER. Immediately comes up to the gate to go out, loves to be pampered, etc. but isn't as pushy as her son.
One time I bought a BLM Mustang (already saddle broke) and he had been a man's horse. A rope horse, camping horse, pack horse, etc. He didn't like to be caught and showed me his eyewhites if I tried to hug him. He HATED hugs. But being a woman who likes loving on her horses, he got lots of hugs, kisses and treats. And lots and lots of riding. By the time he died he was a different horse. Greeted me at the gate, tolerated hugs and kisses, etc. So they can change to be more pet-like if you work with them enough. But he always remained respectful.
Make sure the horse is respectful first and foremost. Then you can become their friend. I want my horses to look forward to seeing me, and I guess I do give treats as a form of love. But I am happy with it that way and the horses like it as well, so that's just the way I operate. Other people probably think I am spoiling them, but they are MY horses and I value the relationship with them. Otherwise I would get a bicycle. Much less upkeep!
Just whatever you do, don't spoil your foal or you will regret it. Every time you work with him you will be correcting behavior issues until it is misery instead of fun. It's like bailing water out of a leaky boat. For every good behavior you are correcting something bad. It's better just not to go there if you can help it. And this comes from someone who knew better and tried not to spoil her horse. He's now a good horse........but not as good as he would have been if I had been able to enforce discipline better from the get-go.