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Learning When to Release the Pressure
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Learning When to Release the Pressure

I've had folks ask me when training a horse: How do you know when to release the pressure? 

The whole trick (if you will) behind the pressure & release is timing. Always start with the least amount of pressure. If you start out with full on pressure, & you're still not getting a response, or you're not getting the right response you don't really have anywhere to go with it. You can't add more if you're at max. 

For example, you have your horse in hand & want him to back away from you. Stand 3-5 feet in front of him. Ask him to back with your voice. If he raises his head & has his ears forward, he's listening to you he just may be unsure of what you're asking. Ask again, then raise your hands, open handed, palms facing your horse & push them towards him. (Don't make contact with him) Your horse may at this point begin to move. As soon as you see him shift his weight. Release the pressure by dropping your hands & take a step back. If your horse stands there stock still & hasn't shifted any weight, move your hands back & forth towards him & away until he begins to move. This is that tricky part, knowing when to release the pressure & in this exercise it's when he begins to shift his weight. He may or may not have taken a step backwards, but he's getting the idea that you're pushing him away from you. When he takes a step back, stop, lower your hands & give him love & praise. 

When working on something specific & your horse is doing what you're asking, don't over work it. Meaning, do it 3-5 times right & quit. Horses tend to get bored if you do more than 3-5 times & they actually can unlearn what you're trying to teach them. When you quit on a good note, your horse will respond more quickly the next time you ask him. 

If you get frustrated or your horse gets "hot" or unruly. Stop, rest a few moments, collect yourself & begin again. Small steps & patience will go a long ways in your training, both for you & your horse. Never get in a hurry. Rushing through a lesson is only setting you both up for disaster. 

 

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  1. naturegirl
    This is great. I would love to be able to try this on a horse and see if it learns this way. Voted! Check out my new post, Needles and Back Cracking. PS: Hope you make TP with this article!
    Log in to reply.
    1. Rene Wright
      Rene Wright
      It does take patience & time. This is how I train Cookie being firm, assertive & consistent she's learned a great deal of ground work foundation that she didn't have before. It's often an adjustment for a trained horse to make this transition, but once they do they know what to expect every time you begin something new. The feral-wild horses use this same pressure & release in their herds. Thank you for your vote & encouragement!
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  2. jst4horses
    Rene, you are so right. If anyone gets a chance to visit Return to Freedom, the wild horse sanctuary in Lompoc, CA, they teach you the principles of wild horse (or real horse) communication. It is so awesome. I came back from a visit the first time and my horses all said "what clinic has she gone to this time". They have added it to their partnering up exercises and in just one half hour or less a horse joins up and does all kinds of awesome things, without any tack at all, and a grin on both your faces:)
    Log in to reply.
    1. Rene Wright
      Rene Wright
      Oh that sounds awesome! It is a dream of mine to bring home a wild horse & start from the beginning with them like that. I think it would just be so much fun & so rewarding. :)
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  3. jst4horses
    Rene, you are so right. If anyone gets a chance to visit Return to Freedom, the wild horse sanctuary in Lompoc, CA, they teach you the principles of wild horse (or real horse) communication. It is so awesome. I came back from a visit the first time and my horses all said "what clinic has she gone to this time". They have added it to their partnering up exercises and in just one half hour or less a horse joins up and does all kinds of awesome things, without any tack at all, and a grin on both your faces:)
    Log in to reply.

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