Be the Feather
Think about the old Disney movie, Dumbo, and what the feather symbolizes. As long as he had his feather he could fly. He had all the confidence in the world, but when he lost it things went downhill in a hurry. His self-preservation was dependent upon that feather. What if someone came along and took away his feather every time he attempted to fly? I bet ol' Dumbo would get pretty protective of that feather. He'd probably fight to keep it or maybe quit trying to fly while this person was around. No matter how hard they tried to get him to I bet he wouldn't do it because the very thing that made him magnificent was repeatedly taken away from him. Over a short time of this, he'd become frightened, defensive, and ill-tempered as a result of his self-preservation and dignity being taken away. Instead of being an amazing flying creature, this person caused him to just be a funny looking little elephant with big ears. His confidence would be shot. His courage to attempt new and interesting things would be turned into distrust and fear of the unknown.
Straightness and balance are to the horse what that feather was to Dumbo, yet the idea of taking a horse out of straightness and into UNbalance has been preached for years. If we can help the horse find and encourage him to seek balance and straightness he learns that staying with us is a really good place to be. When he becomes a little unsure he may start to get crooked and unbalanced, but if we can help him stay straight and balanced he can become sure of us. When this is achieved the horse will become accepting of almost anything as long as he's with us, much like a foal with the mare, and the need to desensitize is gone.
Intentionally over bending a horse to take him out of balance does have its place. It can stop a wreck and save the rider from serious injury. It can save your life, but it teaches the horse very little or nothing at all except that we can take away his self-preservation if we can't handle certain situations. If this is done over and over to the horse it kills his try. The things that make him amazing will be lost.
I believe we have responsibility to the horse. We should work with him in a manner that doesn't take away his feather, but instead convinces the horse to allow us to BE his feather.