As I sit here mentally preparing myself to go meet a young horse I may be bringing home soon, I started to think about what I want in a horse. With Foxie, I have a mixture of mind-boggling stubbornness and fantastic moments - when she's good, she's GOOD and when she's bad, she's unfathomable. Meeting our dressage instructor, Karen Lee, for the first time in a long time, Karen pointed out that it took, at the time, over twenty pounds of pressure to get her to yield to the bit. While she has fantastic ground manners and is a quick learner, she sometimes pushes back - and sometimes more than "sometimes".
Pressure is a pretty important thing - on the ground, it helps you move and maneuver your horse safely, and build an understanding that helps to keep you safe when handling your horse. In the saddle, giving to pressure gives you a horse who gives to the bit, and can be soft and through with their body - moving in the way that is best for their backs and staying controllable under saddle.
So pressure is my number one test for this new horse. Ground work, while many people find it kind of boring, is the best place in my opinion to lay the basics down in a safe and controlled environment.
1. Allows you to create and train reactions to pressure
2. Helps build a bond between you and your horse
3. Helps you lay down your expectations for your horse, and
4. Gives you basics to go back to when ever a training issue arises.
Giving to pressure means that your horse moves towards the source of the pressure to seek relief from it, not fighting that pressure - it's a pretty spectacular thing for a flight animal to even be willing to do.
Read more under the cut to find out more about pressure and release training!