Unity Horsemanship

Connecting Humanity to Horses

Communication – Intent and Pressure


We have learned that for a horse to feel safe and to find comfort in our presence it needs to trust and respect us. Building trust and respect will happen much more quickly if we are able to communicate effectively with the horse. 

The natural equine primary language is based on body language. If we wish to communicate effectively with a horse we need to understand what they are telling us with their body language and we need to be able to use our body language to clearly convey our intent to them.

Session Objectives

By the end of this session you will:

  • understand how a horse’s behaviour can be influenced by “pressure” and the “absence of pressure”
  • understand three important types of pressure – touch, driving, and intent.
  • understand the difference between “intent” and “energy”
  • understand the importance of using as little pressure as needed to elicit the desired behaviour
  • practice moving the horse through effective communication and application/release of pressure

Principles to Be Practiced

  • safety first – for you and the horse
  • present moment awareness 
  • leadership
  • clear communication (intent)
  • application and release of pressure
  • 7 attitudes of mindfulness – non-judging, patience, beginner’s mind, trust, non-striving, acceptance, and letting go.


Please read How to Understand Horse Body Language

How Horses Communicate

Session Activities

  • check in / personal mindfulness practice (optional)
  • assess the herd
  • halter a horse and lead it away from the herd
  • groom the horse
  • park the horse
  • play the friendly game
  • back the horse away
  • draw the horse in
  • cause the horse to yield its hind
  • cause the horse to yield its fore
  • Drive the hind to to draw the head

Questions to Consider

Before you arrive think about and be prepared to discuss the answers to the following questions:

  • How can you establish clear intent?
  • How to we decided what type and how much pressure to use?
  • Can you strengthen your intent by raising your energy?
  • When do you release pressure?
  • What do you do if your horse just does not give you the response you are looking for?