Signal and Balance vs Pressure and Release

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Signal and Balance vs Pressure and Release

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    06-25-2014, 02:39 PM
Signal and Balance vs Pressure and Release

Lately, the vaquero methods have been a point of fascination for me, and I would like the horses I work with to embody the qualities of a true 'snaffle' horse, and eventually, perhaps work up to a spade bit. Not for a few years, when I can study under someone who has successfully trained bridle horses and whose horsemanship I admire, but eventually, with my mustang mare. I think that with the horses coming in for training, I'd stick with snaffle and snaffle to curb transitions, as not many people in New England want a bridle horse. But I want to bring my own personal mare there, eventually.

That introduction was fairly off topic, but in reading threads on here, and on the classic californio page on facebook, one idea that came up multiple times was 'Signal and Balance', rather than 'Pressure and Release.'

I'm struggling to understand the 'signal and balance' method. Pressure and Release makes perfect sense, perhaps because that is what I'm used to. So why wouldn't pressure/release methods work in training a bridle horse? And in your opinion, what does 'Signal and Balance' mean? I understand that the spade is a signal bit, and should be used with nearly invisible cues. I guess it is the 'balance' idea that I am not completely understanding. Thoughts?
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    06-25-2014, 03:15 PM
A shift in balance IS a shift in pressure. Same thing, different words.
    06-25-2014, 03:57 PM
That is what I thought too, but there were people saying that pressure and release was incorrect, and they had to 'retrain' themselves to signal and balance? Were they simply wrong? Or is it the same thing only in a much more subtle degree?
    06-26-2014, 08:51 AM
I wouldn't get too wrapped up in what the variety of people on the FB page are saying. A lot of them seem to use words (and lots of them) more than action.

I guess if one goes from riding horses in an aluminum grazer to a well made half breed or spade, they may feel it is a big difference...

Enjoy the journey with your horse(s).
    06-26-2014, 11:15 AM
Thanks! I've kind of noticed that, as I've read more of the page. Funny how much people say when they sit on fb all day. Doesn't seem like they have much time to ride...

My mare is really lightening up in the snaffle though, so I should be moving up to the bosal soon!
boots likes this.
    06-26-2014, 11:16 AM
First I've ever heard those terms. Want to explain?
    06-26-2014, 11:28 AM

I've never heard 'signal and balance' used as a conflicting term for pressure and release. I guess it depends on your point of view.
    06-26-2014, 11:39 AM
The best horses I have ever ridden are ones that I have taken through these stages of training “The hackamore, The two rein, to straight up in bridle”.
Balance can refer to many things in horse training, but in this tradition during the hackamore stage we are working to create a horse that can carry themselves in a balanced frame along with a horse that that will eventually respond to the most subtle signal from our legs, seat and rein. These methods are based on taking as much time as required to get the horse light and willing unlike today where time sometimes dictates that we take shortcuts or speed up the training to please the market or client.

Keep in mind there are many training stages and often years of training that occur before a horse is allowed to carry a spade bit, and even then they are just holding the bit during a two rein process in which we still ride the horse with the hackamore that is worn under the bridle. Once the horse understands the signal of the romal and spade we use the hackamore less and rely more on the spade until the horse is straght up in the bridle.

I think Benny Guitron said it very well "The feel of a good hackamore horse is almost like having a carpenter's level on the middle of their nose. When the bubble gets in the middle, when they're just right in the hackamore, that horse has learned to carry himself in perfect balance. His body, his poll, his spine are all in equilibrium. So, when it comes time to bridle them, the good hackamore horse is already there- he knows how to carry himself without the crutch of the bridle."

You can apply these principles with your snaffle bit or really any bit if you so choose. Good timing along with pressure and release is what is used to create the lightness & responsiveness along with taking the time to teach the horse to respond to a lightest signal whether it be your leg, seat or hands.

Best of luck,
EquineObsessed likes this.
    06-26-2014, 11:43 AM
Let me go back and see if I can explain what they were trying to say... It wasn't a term I had ever heard either, which is why I wanted to ask folks here (like boots and others) if there was some huge mystery component that I was missing. It seems like the guy, a bridle horse trainer, has used the term to separate himself. I googled signal and balance, and his name is the only one that showed up. Here's a video: It seems like he is referring to the balance of the rider, the horse, and the bit, and a change of balance is the signal to the horse. Which is essentially pressure and release, only VERY subtle, just a shift in balance.
    06-26-2014, 11:46 AM
Hackamore, that was a helpful explanation!

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