Training horses for a living...well, I should say, formerly starting colts, now fixing problems and training horse owners for a living.......It seems that every horse thus far has really driven into my head a certain lesson.
For example, a lovely paint mare that I'm working with right now, used to be a real big BOOM horse with no Go. That is, you ask her to go forward and she said HELL NO! And on the ground she'd bunch up and buck and bounce around and rear up and all that stuff. It was a big show. And her owner had ridden her before I got involved (I've not ridden the mare yet, will start next week now that she's ready)..and she'd gotten bucked off and the mare's back legs weren't too in sync with her front legs...which gave her a really messed up lope. But now, she's really turned around.
My point with soaking time is this:
It's helped me get through to this horse 1000 times faster than if I'd of tried to make her listen and make her stop her Tigger act. We go through a lesson, let's say, go forward and stop via disengage the hips, then rollback on the haunches and go forward and so on...then stop and stand there. Just stand there. Wait. Chill out.
Her big bouncy bounce Tigger routine slowly diminished with each lesson (been 8 now, 2x's a week) with soaking time. She'd bounce around, I'd stop her, let her stand there and stare at me. Her head slowly started to lower to be even or lower than her withers and she'd get a soft eye.
At first she stayed wired. But now...no. She'd anticipate and start to go but I'd stop her and just stand there and she'd sigh and relax her body and her head started coming down and her eye got soft and she'd just soak.
I remember when I was first learning to train horses via this Natural Horsemanship stuff, I was always told, don't drill. Do a lesson, piece by piece and do a lot of...sitting in the saddle. Just sit there in between baby steps when the horse has given you a lot of "yes" answers and just let the horse soak it all in. Then add to it.
So, any lesson that you're working with your horse, just think about this when you've gotten a "yes" answer (good response) just stand there or sit in the saddle and do...nothing. Just wait. Let the horse soak it in. Relax. And then do it again. Do a handful of the steps and then do...nothing. Just sit in the saddle, relax. Or if you're doing ground work, just stand there and wait. Count to 30. Don't rush.
When working on a particularly hard lesson, let's say your having issues with trailer loading or the like....do a piece of the lesson then walk away and lead your horse around the area, asking for nothing. Then return to the training spot. Give the horse a chance to think about what just happened. To soak.
Today this lesson was really driven home by the former Tigger impersonating mare....She really enjoyed her time just standing there, waiting. Relaxing and then you know what? When she was really relaxed, that's when I'd pick up the lesson again and she was much more responsive, not big BOOM responsive, but a calm responsive. It was pretty cool.