(last edited 10/25/10)

"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


by Jan Young

Most horses are pushed, pulled, prodded or levered into whatever direction or position the human desires. Asking such a horse to think and make choices may be difficult at first. He may want you to tell him, and wait for you to pull him, like he's used to. He hasn't yet learned to shift his mind out of neutral.

If you set it up for him by closing all the doors except one, he'll search and find it if you wait. You may need to put a little pressure on him if he doesn't try, to get him to search for what you want. Encourage the slightest change or try on his part--a look, a lean, the flick of an ear. Encourage him by instantly removing the pressure. Rub on him. Then go right back to it until you get another try. Let him sort it out until he finds it.

This way, you are "suggesting" to the horse instead of "making" him. The human needs to be in charge and call the shots, but you do it by making your idea become his idea. When he does it, he wants to do it because it is the most comfortable thing to do. He finds the one door you left open and thinks, "Hey, this looks pretty good, I think I'll do this." He does it willingly, with a good attitude, because it is his idea. It is his idea because it was your idea first.

Sometimes the horse doesn't take your suggestion, or he may initiate an idea that wasn't your idea. Rather than get in an argument with him, or try to force him, you might go with what the horse offers you, and use it in your plan. For example, say you are riding a young horse you are starting. You want to go straight but he tries to turn left. Instead of arm wrestling him to the right, just ride him on around to the left, purposely, like it was your idea, but keep circling him to the left until you are back in the direction you originally were taking him. The horse might stay in a more willing frame of mind, because you didn't argue with him. He stays with you mentally, and you maintain unity and harmony in your ride.

In the human's world, God is calling the shots. He is in control of everything that happens. But He has set things up so that it doesn't always appear that way. It appears to many people that things just happen, without rhyme or reason.

God promises to guide and direct those who belong to Him. But we seldom hear or feel that guidance. We believe that we are making our own plans and decisions, and in a way, we are, because we have free will. He wants us to think and make intelligent choices, just like we want our horses to do. But He is setting things up so that the choices we make work into His overall plan.

Proverbs 16:9 The mind of man plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.

God wants us to make right choices, but sometimes we don't do a very good job of following His leading, or we just plain want to go our own way. Will He arm wrestle us into the direction He prefers us to go? Not usually. Have we messed up His plan? No--He already knew all the choices we would make, and even all the possible choices we could make. He takes what we give Him and continues on in the general direction of His plan. We still get there, but maybe in a slightly different way--perhaps a longer or more uncomfortable way. All our choices work into His plan.

We sometimes wish that God would make things more obvious. It's hard work to think. We wouldn't mind if He would push, pull or pry us a little now and then. But usually He doesn't. Why doesn't He just stop us from doing wrong, or force us to do right? Because God doesn't want robots. He can't have a loving relationship with a robot.

He wants creatures of free will that obey Him because they choose to, not because of fear or pain. He wants us to sort it out, to seek His way. When His idea becomes our idea, we experience unity and harmony in our relationship with the Master Horseman.

Copyright 1998

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