"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

When it is time to start a horse, he is brought to the round corral, a circular pen perhaps thirty to seventy feet across. What kind of horse is brought in to be worked in this way? Several kinds: a young horse that has not been handled; a young horse that has never been ridden but has been handled and possibly spoiled; a mature horse that has not yet been started; a horse that has been ridden but has problems (this horse may be virtually restarted in order to find and deal with his problems).

Why start a horse in the round corral? Why not use something bigger, like the arena, or even a pasture? When it is time to work the horse, you want to be within reach of him, and you want barriers between him and the distractions of the larger environment. You want to limit his choices. You have more control over him in a smaller enclosure.

Then why not use something even smaller, like a box stall? In a box stall, the horse has too few choices. For many horses, the mental discomfort of close proximity is too great. Without the option of flight, the only way to escape the human is to fight. The horse will not be able to exercise the choice of accepting the human, because you have forced your presence on the unwilling horse. The horse should be allowed to think and make choices, rather than forcing him into various behaviors or positions.

Why does the corral need to be round? Without corners, the horse has no place to "stick," to hide his head-no place to get away from the human. But he always has a place to move to. Because the horse has a built-in comfort-seeking mechanism, he keeps moving in order to find a comfortable place. When the horse's feet are moving, you can direct them.

In the round corral, the horse communicates his attitude to the rider by his body language. At first, he may disregard or even show disrespect for the human. This may be seen by his high head carriage, the tilt of his head to the outside, clamped jaw, tense neck, and switching or rigid tail. His change of gaits may be jerky rather than fluid. As the horse responds to the human, a change of attitude can be seen as the various parts of his body begin to relax.

When God starts working with us and has lessons to teach us, He brings us in to be worked. At first, we may have no regard for Him; we may be disrespectful of Him.

We may be young or old; we may know nothing about Him, or we may be soured up from years of exposure to "religion." In His own good time, He brings us in and puts us in His round corral-in a situation that we cannot escape from. If we had too many distractions or options, we could avoid Him, avoid the discomforts He places in our path, and avoid the lesson.

Psalm 139:7 Where can I go from Thy Spirit? Or where can I flee from Thy presence?

But He never puts us in a place where we are forced to accept Him. He always gives us the free will to choose, and sets up situations in which we can learn to make right choices. He lovingly makes sure there is no place in which we can successfully escape from the pressure He brings. He keeps our feet moving, so that we keep moving away from the discomfort and learn to seek rest in the comfortable place. He offers us the Comforter, the Holy Spirit.

John 14:6 [Jesus said] I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but by Me.

He makes all the wrong places or choices uncomfortable. There is only one right place for us to be. When we find that place, we find peace with God.

However, God will sometimes put us in a situation in which the wrong choices are the easiest and the right choice is the hardest one. We are tempted to follow our comfort-seeking mechanism and do the easiest thing, but God is testing our yieldedness and obedience. He desires that we learn to always choose His way, no matter how hard it gets.

Copyright 1998

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