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The Positive Use of Pressure

The use of pressure is one of the most misunderstood aspects of horse training, causing problems for horses and riders in every discipline. Most of these problems stem from what I call a ‘negative’ use of pressure, meaning that the pressure used creates fear or tension in the horse. Negative pressure functions mainly as a signal that the horse has done something wrong, rather than as a mode of connection. In this article, I will explain how the training style I call “Relational Horsemanship” helps us avoid the negative use of pressure, replacing it with positive pressure that promotes understanding and trust while maximizing performance. Horses, being prey animals, are extremely wary of threatening stimuli. Therefore, anything we do that a horse perceives as a possible threat – which can range from a human just stepping into view, to any type of physical contact – can function as a form…

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