The main thing we have to do to be safe and happy with our horses is to convince them not to go with their natural answer to everything – flight. Our human environment can spell big trouble for horses and horse people when a horse hasn’t learned that there are other choices besides panic and speed.
Historically people have accomplished this through dominance, force and coercion – they have literally broken their horses. If the goal is not to have a horse with a broken spirit but rather a connected friend and companion then a more appropriate way to accomplish our goals – to teach a horse to think first rather than run first – is to help a horse build confidence. Self confidence and trust are a much better answer for some people and I’d guess for every horse.
Fortunately we have learned that there are alternatives to breaking horses that work. In fact it has been shown that a horse that enjoys performing performs far better than a horse that performs because it has to.