9 Ways to Ask for Steady Pressure from the Ground
Part of our Fundamentals is about teaching your horse to give to and accept steady pressure. These are some of the basic things on the ground that are the building blocks for everything else. Asking them to give into steady pressure is a core element that builds understanding, communication and partnership.
We want our horse to be excellent at accepting and giving to steady pressure, so we want to ask them in a number of different ways. In this blog I will share with you 9 different ways to ask your horse to come off steady pressure.
Steady pressure from the halter
If you put a feel on the halter going forward, they should begin to move or speed up to come off of it.
If you put a feel on the halter going backward, we want them to step backward off of that feel. Remember, put a feel, hold, and wait for the horse to step off.
Hold the lead rope, lock your elbow, and lean down. Use your torso to lean forward and put a feel. As soon as your horse gets off that pressure, it will release. When you use your torso, it’s easier to set up a “frame” with your body.
4. Hindquarter yield with indirect rein.
Lift the lead rope up toward the withers while standing at their shoulders. We’re asking the horse to yield just the hindquarters away from you. Just put a feel on the rope, without DRIVING the hindquarters (no flags or flicking the end of the lead rope or clucking). The front end may try to move at first, just go along with them until they are moving ONLY the hind end, then release.
5. Forequarter yield with indirect rein.
Like the above, but you’re standing more in front of them, putting a feel on the rope to ask them to move just the front end. They may try to move the hind end too; just hold that pressure, move along with them, and release when only the front end is moving.
Steady pressure from your hand
Put your fingers on either side of the horse’s nose and ask the horse to back up off the pressure. Be sure to rub the horse’s face after so that they don’t being to interpret all touch in this area as pressure, or get nervous about their face being touched.
7. Forequarter yield
With your hand flat, press your fingers of one hand to the horse’s neck just behind the halter, and with the other, press just behind the elbow. The horse will likely give their head first, and then think to start moving the feet. We’re looking for the front end to move over and the back end to stay where it’s at. When the horse steps off the pressure, release by keeping your hands where they are, letting the horse move away from them. Again, remember to rub on these areas so that the horse doesn’t think that touch there should always be a yield!
8. Hindquarter yield
Find the spot on the horse’s barrel where your stirrup will end up when you move your foot back a little bit. Using your thumb, or two knuckles, press into this spot to ask the horse to move the hindquarters over. Again, when they step away, leave your hand where it is so that they get relief by moving off of that steady pressure.
Steady pressure from the halter going around the body
First, your horse should be comfortable and confident with ropes flapping around them. We don’t want this to be frightening, as that won’t put the horse in a mindset where they can problem-solve and learn! Hold the lead rope beneath the clasp. Wrap the end over top of the horse on the opposite side, then flick it back so that it goes down behind the horse’s butt. When you’re ready, tip the horse’s nose away from you a little bit, and let go with the hand holding beneath the clasp. With your other hand, take the slack out of the rope, hold, and step back. This puts the horse in a bind, and gives them the opportunity to figure out how to get out of it. Soon, they will realize that following the feel of the rope and spinning around to face you is what gives them release from that pressure! Remember, if they do anything other than what you’re asking, hold the pressure steadily and go along with them until they figure it out.
Be deliberate with how you ask.
Be deliberate when you release.
Set a goal BEFORE you put any pressure on, and let the horse make a decision.
Watch this video from Ryan for more information!
Or check out my previous Blog - Groundwork Fundamentals Series - Steady Pressure Part 1!
And lastly, join the Virtual Learning Community to get more information and help!