Now that you have control of your body and you feel as though you are in balance when you ride, you need to understand how to keep your horse under your control. Now assuming you are using a horse that has been trained to ride, let's go through what the horse is thinking. The thinking that is presented on this page, basically comes from what is called Resistance Free Training or Natural Horsemanship.
Most human contact with horses through the ages, has been one of human conquer over the horse. We humans can be somewhat arrogant in our approach to this animal. What we get though using that mentality, is an animal that probably doesn't like us that much. What we want to do, is to figure out what and how a horse thinks and how we can adapt to their way of thinking instead of the other way around. If we do this, the horse then will think of us as a friend and not a foe.
Pressure! Yes pressure, all PRESSURE means something to the horse. They react to pressure so for you to be good with horses, you need to understand this completely. How do you usually apply pressure to a horse? The main way most riders do this is through their hands and reins. The reins are generally connected to the horse's head or mouth in some fashion. The majority of horse's have a bit, but the bit itself is not the answer. Our understanding of pressure and more importantly the RELEASE of pressure is what is the answer.
So how does a horse react to pressure? The answer is dependent on what kind of training the horse has received. A horse straight from the wild is going to move away from pressure mostly from fear, but with training they can also be taught to give to pressure which might include coming toward us. The problem is though, that even when the horse learns to give to pressure, we humans sometimes forget to release that pressure when the horse responds. That comes from our instinct, not the horse. So let's ask the question, exactly what is the release of pressure. I would maintain, that the slightest form of pressure is still pressure, while others would say as long as I hold light pressure it really isn't pressure at all. That's how we humans manage things, always using our way of thinking even though it might not be correct. What does the horse think about it should be the main consideration. I really don't want a 1000 pound animal deciding not to listen to my pressure because I refused to consider how he/she feels about it.
Once again, let's flip the equation so we can see if we humans are any better with pressure than a horse.
- How many of you will empty out your boot, if you have a small rock in them?
- How many of you will shift your body if you have to sit for a long time?
- How many of you will go over the speed limit if you are late for work?
I think most humans are going to do all of those 3 things above without fail. All of those things involve pressure to us. IF we are not willing to suffer through pressure, then why are we willing to make the horse suffer through pressure? Once again because we are an arrogant thinking species, we often do this. I too am that way, but if we learn to change we can and the results are so rewarding when we hang out with the equine's of this world it is worth the change.
Learn to release pressure, once your objective has been achieved. Once the horse responds and listens to the pressure, let go of the pressure!