Hmmmm...Mia likes me, she trusts me...and she can forget I'm even on her back at times. OTOH, Trooper doesn't like me much, thinks I'm a jerk...but he'll go where I tell him to go.
A well-trained horse will go where he is told to go with a rider he hasn't met before, while a poorly trained one may not go with one he (or she) has known for years and likes. That doesn't mean I beat the tar out of Mia, but it does mean I'm working on training her to go where she is told to go and stop when she is told to stop. A curb bit has helped enormously with the latter, and being able to stop her when she is scared has helped a ton in getting her over her fears.
I cannot whip her hard enough to make her go forward if she is genuinely afraid, but that doesn't mean she gets to call it quits any time she feels like it. I need to read her, and push her beyond her comfort zone but not so far that she melts down with fear. In the end, I want her to obey for ANY rider, including my daughter and my wife. When presented with an unfamiliar situation, the horse needs to know that doing what the HUMAN - not my best friend, but the generic human on my back - wants is what will keep him safe and sound.
A pro trainer with more experience would get to that point much faster than I can. I can't read a horse well enough and I don't have the confidence, physical ability and facilities to push her hard enough and regularly enough to make fast progress. But I wouldn't give two hoots in Hades for a horse who needs a 'relationship' with a rider in order to go, stop, turn and be ridden safely.
I define training as repeated obedience to a cue until that obedience is so habitual it will happen regardless of fear, mood or rider. If it doesn't, the horse is not trained. For safety, ride the training, not the relationship. But it is possible to conduct the training without destroying relationships in the process.
Haha, I knew you would disagree with me but that's ok just stating different views! I mean we also disagree on trail riding in the desert: I hate it, you love it
Do you need to have a close relationship with a liberty trained horse to safely ride it? no. The point is that through liberty training, we are
teaching the horse to trust and follow humans. However, just as in the herd, there is a pecking order, and you must be able to place yourself as the leader. A liberty trained horse is taught, or rather us humans are taught, as he himself willingly follows the person as an established and trusted leader. It is the humans job to know how to become that leader. I think we all can agree that no matter how well trained a horse is, he will test a rider who doesn't know as much as the more experienced person. This is because the experienced rider has a strong countenance about them, the "air of a leader", which the beginner has not yet gained. Leaders lead with CONFIDENCE. So your other horse may not like you, but you probably have a leader's countenance when you ride him, so he respects you and listens to you. Possibly, you may not have this when riding Mia as fear takes over from previous bad experiences. Now remember, I said POSSIBLY, which means I don't really know because I've never seen the two of you work together, so don't go getting mad at me ok?
The problem I have with your definition of training bsms is that when the horse does not have a leader aboard, when he has not learned to trust and follow this leader, instincts take over in an unfamiliar situation. It is impossible to expose a horse to every situation they will ever encounter and get an established conditioned reaction in every one. So the horse must know that he can turn to his leader's direction, who can calm him with a touch of his hand and voice and say "It's ok, I'm the leader, it's not going to hurt you, we're moving on." This is the end goal of liberty training-for you to understand your horse and your horse to understand you. Clear communication, and a horse that is willing to work with you. That wants to be with you. A horse like this will go through hell and back for you. I've seen it myself-and not just through liberty trained horses. It's those riders who know how to be a confident, calm, effective leader, and they don't have to beat their horses to get that. Their horses will go anywhere, and do anything for them.
The whole point of liberty training, well one of the points, is to get the horse to trust humans, period. But for the horse to trust you, you have to know how to lead. You have to know what you are doing. Let me give an example:
You go to the Grand Canyon and are going to hike. You have a choice between two guides. The first guide says "well, I think we take this trail, but I'm not really familiar with the area. I'm not quite sure how to get there. But I think this is the way we go." The second guide says "I KNOW this is the way we go. This trail will take us up there, and then around there, and then to point B. I'm not all that familiar with the trails, but I've looked at the map and hiked a lot of places, so I can be a good leader." The lesser of two evils, who would you choose?
So I have to ask: has Trooper ever spooked? who does he behave better for? does he behave the same way, every time, in a robotic programmed manner, for every person? When we were looking at horses for my mom, we went to see a highly trained (HIGHLY, this horse could do just about everything, drove, dressage, western, english, trails, etc.) older andalusian gelding. He gave my beginner mother trouble, she didn't know what she was doing. He did not give me an inch of trouble, and I didn't have to beat him to get that respect. He recognized me as a leader by the way I rode, the confidence I had in my cues and the calm collected manner I kept my energy and emotions. Horses are emotional animals. Working with them is an emotional experience. As much as we would like to, we cannot completely rule out emotion. So we must know how to control our emotions, in order to help the horse understand us. If we want to gallop, we need to get our adrenaline going, get hyped up, "let's go, let's go!" All of a sudden, your horse will want to gallop. If we want our horse to calm down, we need to calm ourselves. Liberty factors in all of this, and then additionally strives to connect with the horse on a deeper level.
I have made more progress in a few weeks of liberty training than I have five years of traditional. This is because I am learning how to be a leader for my horse, she is recognizing me as a leader, and I am learning how to understand her. I have recognized her as another animal, another being, capable of thoughts, feeling, and emotion. I no longer expect her to act in a robotic conditioned manner, not that she ever did. I expect her to act like the emotional, intelligent animal she is and show her feelings. And then I lead by letting her express these emotions, keeping my energy and emotions in check (are my emotions saying what I want them to) and keeping a leader's confidence.
All of it sounds very mushy and feely touchy, I know. That's what I thought too. At first I said "what's all this energy crap?" and then I discovered how directly our energy and emotions influences the horse. If I didn't want to be out, she didn't want to work. If I was playful, she was playful. If I was calm, she was calm. If I was tense, she was tense.
Anyway, I'll stop rambling now. BTW I do agree with you that training should further, not hinder the relationship.