So I think for me at least it is more about instinct and feel, at times I have done things that I would tell others not to do because they could be dangerous and yet at the time it felt quite safe.
I am not an example to emulate.
I am quite sure that I did things differently and had different focus when teaching a novice rider to lead, lunge or jump, to those times when no-one is watching us.
Of course I would always wear a flourescent/reflective high visibility jacket and a riding helmet if I am riding on a road where, not simply for my horse and my own safety I need to be seen and to protect myself, but also for children in passing vehicles who are wishing for a pony of their own and mistakenly might see me as an example.
Yet when sitting on a horse and allowing him to feel a human for the first time on his back I assess by blissful ignorance, or intuition and body/mind communication.
There are times when knowledge and intellect can obscure intuited communication, or somehow block sensitivity to the conversation we have with horses. Even in those moments of attempting to see with the eyes and imagination of childhood the knowing adult in us somehow oversees and watches for a shift of mood, nerves, hesitancy, and then I would back off and only try if I felt the invitation.
I have climbed onto the backs of many horses and ponies, no neck strap, no tack at all, at liberty because I 'felt' invited.
If I had run to collect a hat or headcollar or saddle or bridle...focus would have been on safety and perhaps I would have alerted my horse to something to fear or brought my own attention to "what if", rather than breathing and being in the moment.
Would I ever suggest anyone do what I do? - Never!
It does help to sometimes say "do as I say not as I do", and demonstrate how to notice when a horse shows tension through his muzzle or ears and facial expressions, or through his posture outline or tail.
Lucy Rees in her 1984 book The Horses Mind was a wonderful observer. So often we already read our own horse yet cannot express in spoken language what we saw. For me, much of Lucy's book was "yes, of course" and to become more aware of some postures I might not have noticed.
I find it helpful to first have my horses learn simple walk in hand movements haltered and at liberty, and reward for walk/halt, walk/half-halt/walk/halt and more difficult for a horse as he must think, the backward walk, yet 'back' helps when I enter a closed barn at feed times, and is the command for halt, think back but stop/release before taking the step backwards, easier than teaching a horse to stop at the front and fall on it's nose.