Nothing is too terrible to be washed clean
I am afraid I can not agree with this.
I can't even say if I agree or not, I just feel that it's not that simple. What is "to be washed clean"? Having a horse who does not avoid our presence after the incident? Who does not show signs of fear in similar situations? Who is not in any way affected by what happened in terms of reacting to us? Who does not have any memory of the incident?
What I am aiming at is that I believe that, even if the horse does not show obvious signs of fear, the memory of what happened may fade but not necessarily disappear. In the past I have done things with my horses that I am not proud of. The things that seem worst to me aren't those where I used physical pressure and pain (there aren't that many of them although I remember a situation where I rode Titum with a bit and really pulled the rein when he wanted to canter in another direction than I on an open field - completely my fault by the way as I had provoked him quite a bit). What I am really sorry for are those situations when I systematically used mental pressure to get my horses' obedience, like when I chased Titum away to make him come to me.
Now, years later, Titum doesn't seem to be afraid of me. He seems rather confident actually and I thought in terms of washing things clean for quite some time. But only when I got Pia who has never been treated with pressure, I realized what "clean" actually means. I have never had this with a horse before - the youngsters that I had started (not only in terms of riding but horse-human interaction in general) had to learn very quickly that resistance is counteracted with pressure. But with Pia I think I can say that I never forced her into anything (except staying within a space of about two meters from me when I have her on the lunge line because I have to give a vaccination) and her reactions are so pure. She is never afraid to say what she wants and if she does not agree, she lets me know this. But she trusts me more than any other horse has ever trusted me. When she feels threatened, she canters towards me and does not leave my side anymore. I am her protection and she has learned that ever so quickly - maybe because she never had to learn that I can also be the thing that she needs to be protected from
Just out of curiosity, may I ask what you did to Jackson? But you need't reply if this is too personal.
P.S.: Birgit, I only read your reply after sending mine - and realized that I could have left away all my longwinded babbling, you expressed it so clearly in just a few words.
And I SO agree in terms of the horse being wrong depending on definitions. I have always had problems with "The horse is always right" as long as it is not defined clearly what one means when saying "right" or "wrong". And a universal definition of that seems impossible to me.