I think horses are awfully patient. As riders and owners we don't speak their language, they allow us to ride them even though we are predators and we all know of horses who have acted totally different with children rather than adults.
But what happens when you push a horse too far? Well, there is worse case scenario when we ask for an unachievable jump or impossible distances and we push them physically so they are no longer sound. But I was thinking more in terms of pushing them mentally and the trust barrier.
In the book 'Dressage in Harmony' that I am reading by Walter Zettl, he talks about how it is always important to push a horse, but not too far.
In my desensitizing work with Zapa I am using a plastic grocery bag tied to the end of my Parelli like carrot stick (I got mine from Steve Rother). I left it lying in the arena and went and got Santana to work with. I did my work with Santana and as I was getting ready to leave the arena I picked up the stick and went 'hey Santana, what do you think of that?' and turned around and faced him with it.
Santana has not been spooky with me. He spooked once when a cat jumped from outside the arena into an arena window (they are 5 feet high) and I thought it was kind of surprising too. But Santana jumped out of his skin at the plastic bag. He acted like I had just shot him with a tazer gun. I tried to do some work with him but he was terrified.
Over the next few days he became harder and harder to catch, reverting to many of the habits he had when he first came, such as biting at me and pinning his ears. Three days ago it took me 45 minutes to get him to come close to me in the pasture. I kept pushing him out, bringing him in, pushing him out. He never did let me catch him, so we had to let him run to his stall.
I took him over to my lesson with Julie and she helped me with some round pen work, confirming what I knew, this horse could use a lot of it.
The story continues, but the latest is this: today he worked well with me, not ideal, but better in keeping his ears up, coming to me and generally being respectful. I think I had been working with just enough trust to keep me safe, but not enough to keep me secure. I violated Santana's trust and for that I had to pay the price. I knew deep down this horse required groundwork and trust exercises every day, but often I would opt to ride.
Wayne Dyer says intuition is God's way of whispering in your ear. So, I'll try to listen better in the future.