3) The Horse’s Responses
The key to the amount of pressure (or non-pressure) you use is that it remains underneath the horse’s ability to brace against it. How do you know if the horse is bracing? By his responses – visual and palpable
Subtle Responses tell us that the horse is feeling something, but is not yet bracing against it; blinking, lip twitching, change in breathing.
Medium Responses tell us the horse is relaxing (not bracing) and releasing some tension; dropping the head, licking and chewing, shifting weight, snorting or sneezing.
Large Responses indicate a large release of tension; repeated snorting and sneezing, shifting weight back and forth, yawning and repeated yawning, and especially showing the “third eyelid” while yawning.
Horses blink, lick and chew, snort, and yawn all of the time. What gives these responses meaning is the correlation between what you’re doing with your hands, and what the horse is doing. When there is a connectable pattern, then it becomes a response. In fact, any subtle shift in behavior that correlates to what you’re doing with your hands is a Response.