When we practice Straightness Training (ST) exercises – for example the exercise ‘forward down’ – we need to avoid:
❌too much pressure
❌too long pressure
❌too often pressure
Because these kinds of pressure might trigger the following:
⛔The horse goes in the opposite direction and in a state of ‘flight’.
⛔The horse goes against the pressure and gets in a state of ‘fight’.
⛔The horse ignores the pressure and gets in a state of ‘freeze’.
As a result we end up in a push/pull contest or a nipping/biting game!
Now don’t think it’s the horse’s fault…
Don’t settle with the thought ‘it’s just the way he is’…
Don’t label him as ‘dominant’…
… we just need to change our approach ✅ !
Because if we use pressure in a disempowering way, the horse’s mind gets occupied with two things:
➡ How to avoid the pressure.
➡ How to get rid of it.
That’s just how his instinct works!
And once we trigger that instinct, we trigger his ‘survival’ brain…
And then his reptilian brain takes over…
And once he is in a more or less instinctual frame of mind, he will not think about our actual request!
So he will NOT think about
– the exercise
– the movement
– or the behavior he has to do.
We have to make sure to make it a #1 priority to refine our pressure/release technique.
Timing and dosing are key in avoiding an instintual ‘opposed’ state!
Releasing in time will keep our horse in a ‘thinking frame of mind‘.
By releasing early, often, quickly, long and soon, our horse starts to figure out what we want and work together with us.
And we need to remember this:
It’s well timed and well dosed pressure that will ‘teach’ our horse something – from the outside in.
But it’s our release that allows our horse to really understand and ‘learn’ the new exercise, behavior, movement – from the inside out.
Plus, when we combine our release, with a reward and a moment of relaxation, well that’s the most powerful reinforcement triad – RRR – you can imagine.
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