As Einstein said over a hundred years ago:
“You can’t solve a problem from the same awareness that created it”
Dominance happens to be something the horse understands: clearly it is part of the herd experience. Being "the boss" underlies much advice we're given. It fits our predatorial nature: dominance and submission fundamentally make sense, even if we don't think of what we are doing in those terms.
We get a lot more finessed in our presentations than a herd boss of course, but we rely on this instinct. Horses keep the herd boss on their radar, to spot the next dose of uncomfortable pressure and maneuver to evade its escalation. The lower-ranked horse has a healthy respect for the herd boss, instinctively sourced in self-preservation and the expectation of a possible bite or kick. Traditional strategies are long-standing for good reason and their value is not in question here. So yes, pressure works.
But only to a point. That's the catch. And for seekers of a deeper connection, it's a catch 22 that can keep us feeling stuck or struggling. Deep down we know that, in the end, a reliance on upping the pressure when our horse is unsure, unclear, unwilling or unable to do what we ask is not a recipe for a closer connection.
Submission inhibits the very Feel we really want in our connection: the true Feel of the horse, his spirit. That’s what I had missed because this strategy was common to all the different approaches I was trying. That’s why we get so stuck.