When a mare raises her foal she ‘guards’ him, loves him and lets him explore… She holds his space. It is a very empowering way of giving and holding space for someone you love. There is no control whatsoever, yes there are boundaries and there is the importance of safety and respect but always from a place of love.
In a herd situation this space is guarded by the herd. I guess stallions would or could make a claim in wild nature, but eventually a mare chooses who she will follow.
When a horse follows you after you have uprooted him it does not show your mastery, it reveals the inner need of horses to connect. As I have noticed with young delinquents it was very easy to make them like me in a place where they were imprisoned. When they were stripped bare of almost any social contact they were happy to meet a nice person that would listen and talk with them…
It was much harder for me to earn the respect and trust of kids with similar behavior in an environment where they were free. In that free environment they challenged me and tested me to see whether I was as integer as I claimed to be. When you have earned the trust and respect of beings that are free and they then wish to follow you, then you could say you have mastered a situation.
When a horse is free and then chooses to follow you out of his own free will, if only even briefly, you were given leadership. Leadership can only be given by others, when you impose it, it is merely authority.
It is always good to be humble, to have respect for life. This opens one for wonder. It is also good to be proud, to enjoy the fruits of your hard work and respect yourself. And it is even better to balance the two and have respect for all.