Tag Archives: pressure

Combining Pressure and Spirit

If we combine thoughts on pressure and spirit it may make some things easier to see, or as I have been discussing to “see it.”

I talked about how I like to keep the spirit in the horse while getting them to the highest level I can.  A mustang may have lots of spirit when you first adopt it, but if you are not very careful you kill all the life in them. It may seem like you have a real gentle horse, but really you have killed the life and the spirit of one of the greatest animals in nature.  They give up and quit trying.  To me this is sad.  

I feel the same way when I drive through the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.  We took the life and spirit out of so many of the proud people of the Oglala Sioux Nation much like the wild horse.

It is important to make sure we match the spirit with the pressure we or the environment we create is going to put on the animal.  If we don’t get things matched up this creates stress in the animal that could affect performance, cause sickness, vices, or even death.  Imagine trying to run a normal dairy operation with a herd of buffalo.  If you took a herd of dairy cows and dumped them in Yellowstone National Park that would be great for the wolves, but not so good for cows.

This is the challenge we have in range livestock production.  You must have livestock that can survive and prosper in wilderness conditions with the lowest inputs possible, but after they have “grown out” of the range stage, they must adapt to a much more confined setting.

Life is easier.  A highly nutritious and palatable diet on a regular basis and good fresh water any time they want is like a dream for an animal.

Life may be too easy.  A lack of exercise seems to be one of the real problems for livestock that don’t have to graze and travel to water, or have predators to stay away from.  We may need to take our dogs and our cattle for a walk.

This  becomes the challenge.  In the wilderness livestock want to know they can move away from danger.  In a small pasture or lot they feel like this is not possible.  If human interaction is done in a way that creates fear, the animal will always be hunting a way out and will actually put stress on itself even when there is no real threat.  As an example, picture an animal pacing back and forth in a cage or stall.

I go back to my young horses I am riding.  I want to get them productive, safe, and content with the world I have created for them and not take the life and spirit out of them in the process.  The more skill I develop to do this the better it is for them and for me.

From what I see it is of the utmost importance that we learn how to acclimate range animals to the good life we can provide them in the finishing stages of animal production.

You can look at it the same way you look at working with a wild horse.  Help them to understand how to take the pressure.  Don’t put the kind of pressure on that takes the life and try out of the animal.

All animals take pressure differently.  A stockman reads this and learns to put the pressure on in a way that controls the life but does not kill the spirit.

I thank Tom Dorrance for really getting me to want to explore the subject of spirit.

~ Curt Pate

See it

If pressure is the secret to life, it sure is worth some more time to analyze.

I mentioned quantum physics last week.  There is a movie titled What The Bleep that I watched several years ago which really gave my mind some things to try to figure out.

One part  talked about when Columbus came to the Americas. The natives knew something was there but could not process what they were because their brains could not translate what their eyes were seeing.  The ships were there but they could not see it.  The spiritual leader sat and studied until his mind could process what his eyes were seeing, until it became clear to him. Then he helped the others to “see it.”

This was an extremely difficult thing for me to understand. I am not sure if it happened just that way but it helped me to understand it is important to see things as they are.  To do this you really need to think about it.

This is the thing with pressure. Sometimes you can’t see it or understand its effects until it has created a problem. Then the focus becomes the problem, not the decision which created too much or too little of the wrong kind of pressure.

If you are trying to put cattle in a pen and they keep running back past you the thing you may think you should do is build a wing fence.  Then you can force the cattle to go in the pen.  But when you force them to go in the pen they may get exited, go on the fight, and become dangerous or very difficult to work.  The next time you try to put them in the pen they may anticipate this and you won’t even be able to get them to the wing fence.

If you have only ever put cattle in a pen with a wing fence, that would be all you knew.

But if we would of learned how to put the pressure on the cattle at a different angle and a different amount, the cattle may have went in the pen comfortably and not have had a bad experience at all. They would actually have gotten better to work because of the proper pressure.

Once someone demonstrated this to you, you would be able to “see it” and work on your application of pressure to cattle and maybe even take it even farther than you thought possible.

Another place I think pressure comes on the human level is borrowing money.  If you were to decide to go on vacation and borrow the money, you would have lots of fun on the trip for a short time, but then you would spend the next year sacrificing or having a hard time making ends meet because of it. The negative pressure may have made the trip not worth it.

But if you were to decide you wanted to go on a trip, made sacrifices, and saved your money for a year, you would get the satisfaction of saving, have that sense of pride, and you would get the good memory of the trip. Through this way you would not feel the pressure to have to pay for something.

This is why I feel it is so important to really understand the pressure we put on ourselves.  I have read that the subconscious mind can’t tell the difference between real and imagined. Bad news, negative people, negative thoughts all put pressure on us that we may not even be aware of.

The way we care for our animals and handle them put pressure on them and us.  Negative pressure creates stress, positive pressure creates contentment.

There is a book titled The Biology Of Belief by Bruce Lipton.  It helped me to understand what negative pressure or stress really did to our body and immune system.  It is real important to be able to “see it.”

Learn the difference between good pressure and bad pressure.  Don’t be like the sheep following the other sheep into a draw to pile up and suffocate from the pressure, be the sheep that goes through the gate to green pasture.

~ Curt Pate

The secret to life

I have had lots of things happen in my life which have given me ideas to write about on this Scoop Loop deal.  It has helped me to understand and think about why and how I think. Writing this has been one of the most enjoyable things I have done, and hope it has been a benefit to you as well.

When I was young I spent a lot of time with my grandfather, Leonard Frank.  We were talking about steam engines, and he told me the most important part on the steam engine was the pop-off valve.  If the steam pressure got to be too much the pop-off valve popped off before the whole thing blew up.

I have not heard much more about pressure for lots of years, or if I did I don’t remember. When I got interested in learning more about working with horses, I started hearing about pressure and release.  This was very helpful in learning how to work with animals.

As time went on I ended up getting interested in reading and learning a lot about
life from different points of view such as the Dalai Lama, conversations with God, reading the Bible several times, financial gurus, meeting and talking with many very successful people, meeting and talking with very unsuccessful people, learning about quantum physics, and all kinds of other stuff.  I was putting quite a bit of information in my head.

There are so many different ideas and opinions about the so called “secret to life.”

I sat on a airplane with a young lady awhile back.  She was very outgoing and talkative. Somehow we got on the subject of life, happiness, and all the spirituality stuff, and it just kind of popped out that I thought the secret to life was proper pressure.

I really believe this is true.  The pressure we put on ourselves through action or inaction creates quality of life.  The people we choose or are forced to be around creates pressure that increases or decreases quality of life.  The kind of pressure we put on other people and animals creates quality of life.

It is so simple.  The pressure you create in your life, how you learn to accept pressure, and the kind of pressure you create for others is the real key.

So many decisions we make for immediate self satisfaction create excessive pressure in the future.  If we don’t put enough pressure on at times, it can create the need for more pressure than we can or know how to create.

Some of us can take more pressure than others.  Some of us put more pressure on than others.  If you are around situations that create more pressure than you can take, or if the situations you are around don’t create enough pressure to satisfy you, you may not be content or happy.

So from my way of seeing things, we should make all decisions based on the pressure they will create.  This could be looked at to improve things on a world scale to a personal level.

The challenge is that we don’t have a pop-off valve on the world or our personal relationships.  This is why I think it is important to learn how to create, apply and accept pressure in the amount that is proper.  It is also very important to know if you can’t take the pressure you must get it reduced or you will not be satisfied.

I think this is worth a little time thinking about and looking at the pressure in your own life. Are your decisions creating the proper pressure for you and the others around you?

With all the problems with health and happiness in our world, it looks like the next technology should be a human pressure gauge, but we may already have one.  It’s called a brain.  Use it wisely because it is also the pop-off valve.

~ Curt Pate


This seems the perfect time to discuss my thoughts on timing.

If you have read some of my previous thoughts on pressure being what causes animals to do the things they do, and the amount of feel we apply this pressure with, then the timing of the pressure is the next logical thing to talk about.

If the timing of the pressure is correct and the proper type of pressure for the situation is used, it will work. However, the correct pressure at the wrong time may have little to no effect, or even a negative effect.

Timing may be just the opposite of feel in the aspect of learning. Timing is easy to teach or demonstrate, but very hard to learn. The more things going on, and the faster the pace,the harder it is to have good timing.

Timing has to do with the mind of the handler and the animal. The brain can only think of one main thought at a time. This is why it is so dangerous to drive while texting or trying to read a map. Your timing of driving your car is thrown off, and you will apply the pressure to the brake, steering wheel, or gas pedal at the wrong time. When a person has perfected the motor skills of driving and does not have to have complete concentration on thinking of what to do operate the car, the driver can carry on a conversation with another person in the car. I don’t know about all states but in some if you are driving a semi truck and are talking on a cell phone without having your hands free it carries a heavy fine. Timing is very important, mainly thinking ahead when driving, especially when it is hard to stop.

Livestock seem to be very single minded. The first step to proper timing is to get the animals mind in a state to take pressure. If the pressure startles the animal, depending on the animals temperament, it could cause the animal to react more than is necessary or in a negative way. Startle a sleeping horse from behind and you may get kicked or slam the door on a pickup truck with a pen of flighty cattle, and while you are limping around or building fence, it will give you time to think about improving the way you time your approach.

The way you go about changing the mind of the animal to your pressure is key to how well the animal will accept and respond to the pressure. Once the animals attention is on you, the timing of how much pressure and the kind of pressure you use is also very important to not only get the animal to do what you would like it to do, but also keeping it doing it. You must become more important than every other stimulus in the environment, but not scare the animal because of too much pressure. If we go back to the driving scenario, it’s like someone who is real jerky on the gas pedal, goes real fast, then slams on the brakes to stop fast. The smooth driver times the pressure and release of pressure with the flow of traffic and terrain of the road. The smooth stockman does the same.

Most animal abuse is caused by improper timing of pressure. When excessive pressure is applied and an animal can’t or has no place to get away, this is abuse. Improper timing can create a response in animals which creates the need for excessive pressure where it would not have been needed if the animal had been trained properly.

So here is the order I think one should take when moving livestock …

Try to approach from an angle and speed that lets the animal discover your pressure before you penetrate the flight zone. When you get a response, it is important to immediately change your pressure, to reward the animal or reassure it that you have feel, and to get it thinking out of the pressure. The timing of this is so important. The closer you make the change in pressure to them thinking about it, rather than physically doing it, the better the timing.

Once you find the pressure zone that creates movement then you can change the angle of the pressure to create direction. You may be wrong in your estimations and this is when you time your change of pressure to get the direction you want. By your timing of pressure and also the real ease of pressure, the animal is learning to take your pressure and work for you, while you are learning the best way to work with the animal to keep it on the thinking side of its brain so it gets easier to work.

No matter if is a herd of livestock or one animal, I treat it the same way. With one animal I get movement that fits the situation, then try to point the nose where I would like it to go. With a herd it is important to get proper movement, then establish direction with the lead animals with out stopping the movement of the herd.

When I help people starting and riding young horses the thing I always found myself saying to them was, “You’re late.” This is the challenge with learning timing. With animals if you don’t apply the pressure or release it at the proper time, they can’t reason it out. They are in the moment.

When you are learning. you don’t want to make a mistake, so you try to decide or think of the best option. By the time you think of all the things to do, then make the decision to implement it, you are late. So you try another set of options, then you are really late.

With real gentle cattle you can get by with thinking in the pressure zone, but the more sensitive the animal is the less time you can be in the wrong spot if you are in the pressure zone. You should step back out of pressure, quickly regroup, and then step into pressure with the new plan. If you make smooth positive movements, not quick jerky moves, the animal will respond better.

This is why I say timing is easy to teach, but hard to learn. You can be told all the right things but the only way to get experience is from mistakes made, then learned from.

The more advanced you get at handling livestock the better you can use timing to get better results. You time the change of pressure with the physical balance of the cow or the shape of the herd. When trying to load a steer in a trailer or up a lead to a chute, if you position yourself properly to apply just enough pressure to get him to see the opening, as he looks at the opening you increase the pressure at the proper time and amount. To early and he won’t be lined up to go up the chute. To late and he may choose another option. This is when proper timing really is helpful in animal handling.

Here’s a simple example of timing:

A few years back I was watching the rodeo in Missoula, MT. After the rodeo I was on the track visiting with a real good steer wrestling horse trainer that I was college roommate with. He was on his bulldogging horse and the fireworks started to go off. His horse just stood there and we watched the fireworks. That’s pretty good to get a steer wrestling horse to just stand there when fireworks are going off. The fireworks had been going on for a few minutes and a barrel racer came running across near us saying to Steve (Blixt), “My horse is tied to the trailer.” He never even hesitated but said, “You’re late.” Her timing was way off.

I really feel timing is the one thing that you always need to keep working on. All the physical things you do are only helpful when you time them right. The way to get better timing is to do things and then analyze the result to check your timing. If you never think about and remember what worked your feel and timing will be off. By analyzing performance we create balance, and that will be next weeks topic of discussion.

~ Curt Pate