Horse Training Power Tip: Responding to Pressure Is critical for Great Training
A horse’s respond to pressure is offering to reward to training him. Think about what you ask him to do: follow you into a stop moving, an arena, a wash holder, a horse trailer home. To move away from your leg in lateral movements — leg yield, shoulder-in, haunches-in, opening a gate while mounted; to stop and to turn on the halter… all are common examples of respond to pressure.
When your horse was a new baby csir in hindi foal, he kept very close to his mother. He did this for warmth, comfort and protection. As he grew, he wandered further from his dam, but would quickly return when he was surprised or concerned by a hobby or sound. These instinctual behaviors never left when your horse was weaned. The thought is to move into pressure; feeling safer closer to someone, and if there is not an alternative, that someone can be you. This is not a safe thing for you, however, and this idea is actually an example of the guiding principle that horses should find out to move away from pressure.
Good ground work and halter training teaches the youngster to respond to pressure. To help expand develop this, the pressure should be from different stimuli: the halter and the handler. Consistency is so important for any horse, but particularly the young horse that is much easier to leave an impression on as their connections and experiences are limited.
Focusing on the response of the halter pressure, there are three components to the halter which should result in three reactions. Look at the parts of the halter. The horse should respect the pressure applied to the noseband, the headstall, and the cheek waste the halter. This is the most bare-bones way to explain it, and many experienced handlers do this without effort. For many others though, the handler simply has never thought of it, and continues to endure poor behavior from their horse, not so sure what to do. In some cases, it becomes apparent that the horse acts one way with anyone, and another way with another person. The horse sensory faculties the confidence and familiarity with the person handling them, and the only way to improve the situation is to notice the problem, and consistently work on it.
So what does this idea look like? Applying the pressure should bring to mind an immediate result, in a soft way. Many times, the actual softness uses some strong applications of pressure, particularly when the horse has been confused by inconsistency. To make it plain and simple, if you put pressure on the headstall — the part that goes behind the horses’ ears, then the horse should advance. If you put pressure on the noseband, the horse should yield or stop. If you put pressure on the sides of the halter, the horse should turn his head. The horse, with consistency, will often respond to the body language you have when you apply the aids, and you can increase the awareness of this after the foundation is laid. For example, if you start to trot alongside your horse, he should immediately set out to trot. If you stop, your horse should stop. Proper leading should involve turning your horse away from you when turning around, to minimize the risk of getting your feet arrived on, and lifting your hand to start the turn is reasonably straightforward for the horse to understand.
When your horse is alert to these challenges, the idea of packing into a trailer home or a wash holder is also basic. Most often, the issues in asking your horse to come into an enclosed space when it is resistant to go, is a resistance of the pressure applied to the headstall of the halter. The most vital mistake people make with this is not conditioning to the horses’ response. The horse must get a release when they respond, to bolster the behavior. Difficulty in packing will come from a horse beginning yield to the pressure that is initially applied, but when getting no release for having gave, they learn to back against it even stronger, or fly back. Truly appreciate benefit of release.
Success with this, under saddle or on the floor, will come with the well-timed release. Benefit of reading body gesture — knowing when the horse is saying no, when it is genuinely frightened, or when it doesn’t understand is also key. For more information on these points, see the articles on body gesture, trailering, and respond to pressure under saddle.
Our horses adore to please and to be led by a fair and consistent leader. You are on the right course by reading more about training ideas and techniques, and may be commended for that. For additional information, please see the book “7 Secrets of Horsemanship” available December 2012 as an e-Book on Amazon.