The subject of pressure is a fascinating one. For me, discovering how to use pressure and release (it is the release that teaches) as a training method has been a revelation. Why did nobody tell me before? It simplifies - and complicates - everything. Because it goes hand in hand with timing, and phases. Good timing can be learned, some people have it and some of us have to work on it.
Understanding how to apply pressure in phases sounds simple, at first, but the more skilled and experienced you get with this technique, the more you find to it. You get into questioning the type of pressure - physical, mental, implied, direct, distance, thought... How little it takes, how much is too much. What is a try, what is a release, or a micro release... ?
While the very word "pressure" sends some horse owners into declarations of horror of the idea that they might be putting stress on our horses, it brings a smile to my face as I think of how this invaluable technique has transformed my horsemanship and taken it to new levels, and degrees of refinement I didn't know I had or desired.
Pressure can be as light as a thought or the air, or it can be heavy and dulling, or threatening, or mind blowing. It all depends how you use it, like a cudgel or like a magic wand. While horses, as humans, cannot learn while under stress, they also cannot learn without motivation. Pressure motivates. Too much pressure stresses. Everything has to be taught. Leaders teach. Mothers are leaders. Mares teach their foals, to follow, to move, to yield. Horses use pressure and release to teach and move each other.
Pressure and release is balanced, it flows back and forth, it is alive, it is communication.
If I behave like a leader with my horse, and he perceives me as a leader, he will respect and follow my ideas. This concept works for me and I believe it works for my horses too. More on that one lcoming soon... ;)