"The True Way"
The Round Corral ~ The Rope and Flag ~ Hooking On ~ Learning to Learn
Yielding the Whole Body ~ Blanket, Saddle, and Rider ~ In the Saddle ~ Use of Aids
Some Elements of Horsemanship ~ Distractions ~ The Quick Fix ~ Natural Horsemanship?
The Soft Feel ~ Spade Bit ~ Out of the Arena ~ Who's Calling the Shots? ~ Straightness

(last edited 3/05)


by Jan Young

It is time to start another colt. The man opens the gate of the round corral, drives the colt in, and shuts the gate.

The horse begins to circle at a high trot. Head tilted toward the outside, he shows no concern for the man standing in the center. When the man blocks his way, he snorts and turns.

Hearing a whizzing sound, the horse trots faster, breaks into a run. He ducks, but the rope settles over his head, applying pressure to his neck.

Instinctively he resists, pulling away from the pressure. Nothing has ever held him like this before. Up till today, he had always thought he was the master of his own fate. Now, something is in his way. Something strong.

Finally the pressure becomes too uncomfortable. The colt makes a change and slows down, stops. For the first time, he looks at the man, his ears forward. The pressure of the rope is instantly released. Uncertainly, he takes his first step toward the man. The look on his face says, "What do you want?"

The lesson continues. The rope is all over him, on his feet, around his middle. The man uses the pressure of the rope to make him move his feet, to move his hind quarters over, to move his front quarters over.

Just about the time the rope loses its strangeness, a flapping flag appears-a piece of plastic on the end of a stick. Then a saddle blanket. The man touches him all over. Even though it does not hurt, the colt flinches and shudders, rolling his eyes. The man rubs him and speaks softly to him. It begins to feel okay, but it is so very strange. What is it all about?

Is it all about horses? Maybe. Or is it a parable, a metaphor for life? Who is the horse in this story? And who is the man? Is it some famous horse trainer? Or is it the Master Horseman? Whoever it is, it is all the same Way.

The process is the same. So is the desired end result: perfect communication between horse and Rider. Unity. Harmony. Fellowship. Whatever terminology you want to use. In order to achieve this, the horse must learn to be totally yielded to the Horseman.

Although the Horseman has the power to force the horse to yield, he chooses not to use coercion. He achieves his desired result by setting up situations in which the horse finds pressure or discomfort when he does the wrong thing, and finds relief when he does the right thing. The pressure may be physical, as in something touching him, or it may be mental discomfort, as when the human simply approaches the horse.

This relationship is a partnership, a friendship built on trust. The horse is always given free will; he is not a machine, to be forced or cued to a programmed action. He has a mind. He may resist as long as he wants, but the longer he resists, the more pressure he applies to himself, until he learns it is better to give. When he does, he is rewarded with a release of pressure; he finds the comfortable spot.

As he learns, he finds that soft, comfortable spot more and more easily; he mentally searches for it. The Rider applies less pressure, until eventually, merely a shifting of the weight or the slightest movement of the leg or rein brings the desired response. He thinks it, and the horse responds to the thought.

How great a joy to ride a horse that light, that soft. The Horseman experiences deep satisfaction as the horse freely chooses to submit himself in total trust. And the horse finds that, rather than losing out by yielding, he has gained everything. This can be seen in the expression on his face and by his body language.

There is one important difference in this analogy. The horse can learn, and he can respond to pressure, but we can reflect on our lives, consider these truths, and actively decide to cooperate with the Master Horseman once we understand. When the trials and pressures come, we can accept them, knowing their ultimate purpose. The more we think about what we do with a horse, and why, the more we begin to understand what the Master Horseman is doing in our lives, and why. The longer we ride horses, the more we will learn about Him.

So is it any surprise that this Way, this natural kind of horsemanship, works so well with horses? Could it be that the Master Horseman has designed life this way to give us a picture of how He desires our relationship to be with Him?

Mark ll:1-2,7 And as they approached Jerusalem, at Bethphage and Bethany, near the Mount of Olives, He sent two of His disciples, and said to them, "Go into the village opposite you, and immediately as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, on which no one yet has ever sat; untie it and bring it here."... And they brought the colt to Jesus and put their garments on it; and He sat upon it.

Revelation 19:11 And I saw heaven opened; and behold, a white horse, and He who sat upon it is called Faithful and True.


(Note: The following is not to be considered a comprehensive manual for riding or training, but is merely a collection of random observations on the parallels between the Heavenly Horseman and the earthly horseman. Nor should one attempt to carry the analogy too far, because it is not a perfect analogy.)

Copyright 1998

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB

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