Giving To Pressure

This is Heildorf learning to give to pressure.

There’s no excitement. No one is upset. He is loose, no reins or rope attached. There is nothing aversive going on here.

It makes me wonder why positive reinforcement people have developed such a distaste for using any sort of pressure?

Well used pressure can offer guidance to a horse, lower stress, and  make life easier for everyone. It is a natural way to steer or lead that makes sense to everyone. What is well applied pressure really except touching our horses? I touch Heildorf’s side here to ask him to step over. I touch the side of his face to ask him to turn. I touch  my hand to his chest to ask him to back.

I understand that not everyone uses pressure well. There are those who want to escalate and go to swinging ropes, chasing the horse around whenever they don’t immediately respond. That is pressure used badly.

That is a problem  with the individual trainer though. Bad horsemanship on that persons behalf. Not a sin of pressure itself. Even when training with pure -R, pressure and release, round penning, we don’t want horses to be upset by pressure. Use as little force as necessary, that is every true horseman’s goal and mantra.

When pressure has been used badly we need to recognize it as the bad training, abuse even,  that it is. To let those times cast a pall over any training that uses tactile cues and touch is wrong though. Instead of demonizing all use of pressure as being bad we need to look at the way we are using pressure. Perhaps the problem is in  the one using the tool, not in the tool.

Good horsemanship should always be the goal.

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