What is pressure and release training with horses?

What is pressure and release training with horses?

In horse training, pressure and release training is opposite to positive reinforcement training, instead focusing on punishment and fear. An example of this would be keeping tension on the lead rope until the horse walks forward, at which point you drop the tension and the horse gets relief. 

Imagine someone had a solid grip on your arm until you did something, but you don’t know what. You don’t speak the same language as this other person, and they’re not giving you any clues as to what will get them to let go. The relief you might feel when the grip finally does ease would also be accompanied by negative feelings towards that person, and probably a reluctance to keep being near them.

Along with that tension and negativity, the other main issue with using this tactic is that you as the trainer always need to be the scariest thing in the vicinity. You might have a great grip on them, but suddenly when an air horn goes off, their first instinct will be to evade that bigger and scarier noise. In this scenario, the horse is unlikely to look to you to help them. You’re the pressure person, and they want safety.

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