The Volunteering Horse: Training without Pressure

It’s the reality with horse training and horse ownership—we need to ask a horse to move its body in many ways, both on the ground and in the saddle. We need to teach horses to move forward, backward, toward us, away from us, and to move the front legs, the hind legs, and a combination of both. 

Traditionally, these behaviors are taught using pressure. Peggy Hogan will demonstrate techniques for teaching movement using shaping, capturing, and targeting. Even complex movements can be shaped and trained without pressure. Once learned, movements established on the ground can be cued visually or verbally, or transferred to tactile cues, such as hand touches and lead-rope directions.

Conventional training under saddle involves teaching horses to respond to pressure from reins, legs, and weight by moving away from the pressure to remove discomfort. In training without pressure, the transfer to working under saddle is accomplished by transferring the ground cues to contact cues from legs, weight, and reins—cues that carry the same information as the conventional signals.

Instead of increasing pressure to produce movement from avoidance, learn to communicate with your horse about movement verbally or through learned contact cues. You’ll have a willing horse, offering behavior instead of resisting.

This Session will include examples, demonstrations, videos, and audience participation.

Peggy Hogan

Through her business, The Best Whisper is a Click, Peggy Hogan provides clicker training lessons, clinics and online coaching, all focused on horses.

A horse-lover since the age of three when her sister put her on a pay-per-lap pony ride, Peggy loves all animals and has a passion for training. She has studied natural horsemanship in depth and immersed herself in the teachings of Peggy Cummings, founder of Connected Riding. With inspiration from Alexandra Kurland, Peggy fully embraced clicker training and positive reinforcement.

Learning from clicker trainers of other species, Peggy has investigated ways to add more shaping, capturing, luring, and targeting to her clicker training for horses program. Horses offer complex behaviors freely if given the choice, behaviors that apply to environments that range from agility to freestyle to medical procedures. All of these freely offered and shaped behaviors create wonderful riding horses. Peggy has worked with clicker training techniques in the area of horse rescue as well.