Well not totally futile, but it’s a catchy title! LOL
The "signs” post is coming, but first I have yet another ramble that I am going to throw at you.
About? Energy and resistance. And how by using less of one, you get less of the other. And also the opposite, more energy can equal more resistance.
What am I talking about?
The example I will use is halter breaking young horses. Not going to get into a total "how to as I do it " but the long and short of it is we teach horses to give to pressure and respect a halter and lead. But first we have to get the halter on them!
This is not how everyone does it, it’s how I do it and it works for me. Usually before they are yearlings, but this year is different, and while they are well used to being touched and groomed, they are not in fact halter broke. So time to get at it.
Whether they are weanlings and in a stall or yearlings in a larger pen, it makes little difference other than size. And strength? Not really, I don't out muscle a weanling, nor am I going to try when they are bigger and stronger, that is when the energy and resistance equation comes in.
We start out just moving around ,giving to my pressure in a pen (usually not round ,I like corners they can work for you if you let them ) the pressure can be a whip waved or a rope , or just me crowding their space until they move off, but the key is how much pressure, not enough and they don't move , too much and they resist and can become very reactive. I don’t want a baby panicking and running Willy nilly around the pen any more than I want them backing into me and firing off a round so to speak. Both those options are a case of me using too much energy, and the horse resisting/reacting at the same level.
Maybe it is my lazy nature ,but I don't feel any great need to break a sweat doing this , I use enough pressure to move them away and keep them moving. Steady and constant but using only what energy is necessary. Once we get them settled and responsive to that we apply pressure in a different way, asking for the whoa, this is a more obvious show of energy and resistance, I position myself quietly in their eyeline and ask for whoa, too directly in front can cause one of two things, they will either wheel around and take off the other way, or blow right over you. By getting into the view of the horse they perceive you to be in front and will often stop, or if they do turn, you are in a good position to take control of their trajectory and direct them back the way you want.
Eventually when you see the signs(I will get into this in the signs post ) they are ready to have a rope and or halter , you move forward with this. This is where the energy you expend is very important , even the smallest foal is a strong creature and can drag you around .If it how you want to do things fine fill your boots, but as I said I am lazy and I don't want to , also I have enough physical issues with my RA and Lupus, it just hurts too darn much to fight.
Often when I first put my rope (usually a soft cotton lead ) the horse will try to leave , fine do that, but I am coming with you , steady firm contact on the rope but not holding hard and fast . I am only using enough energy to hold on and remind them I am there, not enough to try to stop them. Do they get away on me from time to time at this stage? Yup, so I start over, no harm no foul.
Then we get to the halter, assuming we have it on and have attached the lead rope to it now we want to walk forward. Again , energy vs resistance is key here , if you set back and pull on the rope the horse is likely to set back and pull too (and who do you think wins there? )Instead, ask, putting pressure on the rope and wait, the horse will very likely set back a bit and try to resist , so let them . Just hold firm , again not hard and fast and not yanking and pulling with all you have , if you do that, so will they, just set your tension and let the horse put all the energy into the resistance , it usually doesn't take too for them to decide to use less energy and move towards the release . Steady ask, and release.
Similar in riding, contact on the bit, contact with your seat etc. More setting s flexible hold on the bit and let the horse find the "sweet spot" than constant pull release with the rider expending more energy resisting the horse (if that makes sense )
Clear as mud?
I will sum up with the old fable of the sun and west wind arguing about who could get a man to take his coat off faster. The wind was sure it was he, and he blew stronger and colder, and the man simply pulled his coat tighter around himself. When the sun took a turn she warmed the man gently with her rays until he stopped holding his coat tightly and took it off.
When it comes to horses, be the sun.
Stay safe my friends