The best we can do to form a responsible, light partner (animal or human), is to set up scenarios and wait. You might miss your lunch because you’re waiting so long, but it pays off.
We want to keep the lightness and not immediately go in with the big guns when someone doesn’t immediately respond. I get the best results when I ask something, set it up in a way that makes it easy for them to do what I’ve asked, and then wait. Not getting heavier, not getting distracted and moving on, but simply waiting.
While I’m waiting, I have to watch for the slightest change. Any sign of them going in the right direction and I reward in some way – even just releasing pressure. This way, the next time I go to ask for that, I find they react as light as could be.
The first time asking the mustang, Eclipse, to lower his head is a good example. I prepared him for it by asking him to yield to the rope in other ways – leading, circling, etc – and then I applied very light pressure on the rope (downwards). I didn’t go to yanking on it or putting down all my weight in order to force him to do this. I just waited, and it got boring… he finally bobbed his head down about a half of an inch and I just released the entire rope. He looked at me with big, amazed eyes and two ears perked forward. What happened? I tried it again, and waited with barely any pressure on the lead rope. It took about half the time it had previously, and his head went down quite a bit more. Now he lowers his head when I just touch the rope in that way.
In what areas of your life could you take it a bit slower – set things up and wait? Most likely there’s more than you think.