We know that the horse responds to pressure, and the release of that pressure is a reward, but when do you release? Most often the release of pressure comes from the rider when the horse has achieved the full “goal” and so in doing this the small attempts to respond by the horse are missed, these are their try’s and these are the moments when we can learn so much. In order to reduce the amount of pressure we use, we have to become consciously aware of our horses responses at a far deeper level than just the “goal”. For example when asking a horse to halt most people release the pressure when the horse has totally stopped, and in doing so they miss the more subtler try’s the horse has given, this causes the rider to have to use more pressure than is actually required as the horse tries to find comfort. By shutting our eyes and feeling what’s happening we can suddenly open a new world of movement that we once missed and so our aids can become lighter, and much more accurate. As we apply our halt aid if we feel for a try of slowing down and reward that with a release of pressure rather than waiting for the full halt we generally find that after a few repeats our horse will naturally halt from a much lighter pressure. We can also notice the moments that we have previously missed. This is relevant on every aid we apply, awakening our awareness to the smallest try’s can lead to much less of a ‘battle’ much more of a partnership and in a very short space of time we can tone down our aids to the most lightest we have ever given. Horses are so sensitive and so quick to respond it’s easy to miss these tries if we’re not consciously looking for them, but once we let go of our human mindset of goals and settle into our natural mindset of feel a whole new world can open to us. Next time you ride, get inquisitive, do you reward your horses first try? Or do you wait for the full goal??