I had an interesting session with the lad just now. He's been much more skittish than usual the past week - as evidenced by my flying off twice in the past two weeks. He has this "thing" about the gate to his ring, and he also [being a standardbred who has raced] has a very BIG "thing" about whips. I do not use them to hit in any way, but they are useful in training to supplement your leg, if the horse is ignoring it, or to help with longeing.
A word on longeing. It is a training technique, in which the trainer stands in the middle of a large [10 - 20 meter] circle, with the horse on the perimeter, attached to a line. The trainer then asks the horse -verbally or through body language- to perform certain actions. It's useful if you or the horse cannot ride, to warm up the horse, or the horse is higher than a kite and you don't want to be hurt. You get the idea.
Today, I worked him through some major kinks - his gate and whip fears. He had moments of apprehension and, being a horse, belligerence. However he DID reach the stage where he would calmly go around me, in a relaxed manner in an even gait. He did this going in both directions [ riders call them "reins"] And I could have ridden him. But he showed his trust of me, and his willingness to cooperate,and that was enough. I took him to his stall, took off his gear [tack] and gave him goodies, telling him how wonderful and brilliant he was.
To make a long story even longer, training a horse is like painting. You have to know when you are finished ... when you have accomplished what you have set out to do. Do I do this all the time? - No. But it felt wonderful to realize I did so today! End of morality story