"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

In the round corral, the horse learns to yield to the human. The human decides when he may move or stop, how fast he goes, and which direction. It is not enough to accept the general principle of yielding; he must also willingly yield every part of his body.

When his feet are roped, he learns to give each foot in response to pressure. When he is worked on the halter rope, he learns to give his head, or his nose, in response to the pressure. He must also learn to give his front and his hind quarters. When you ride him, you will ask the horse to yield all these parts of his body in response to pressure.

It is not the horse's natural inclination to yield. As a prey animal, his natural instincts are flight and then fight. Whether he fights or flees, he depends on his legs and feet for survival. Asking him to yield his feet goes completely against his grain. Without control over his own feet, he probably struggles with feelings of helplessness, of being trapped. This is why it is so important to show the horse that yielding is not losing out, but when accompanied by total trust in the human, is actually the means to gaining the comfort he seeks.

Working the horse on the halter rope, you ask him to move his hind quarters over by stepping toward them. If he doesn't step over, you can touch or tap his side, swing the end of the rope around, or even tap him with it if he won't move. If you are on his right, stepping over means stepping his right hind foot over and in front of his left foot. Why in front? Because if he doesn't step in front, he is actually stepping backwards, not over to the side. Stepping backwards is a way of bracing, of being in a position to push. When he steps over and under, he cannot push. His pushing mechanism is put in neutral. This is called disengaging the hindquarters, or breaking down the hindquarters.

Likewise, in moving the front quarters, you ask for a specific movement of the front feet. As you step toward the horse's shoulder, put your hand up toward his face or swing the end of the rope to encourage him to move his front quarters away from you. If you are on his right, stepping over means stepping his right front foot over and across his left foot. If he doesn't step across, he is actually stepping backwards, just as with the hindquarters. Stepping over with the front should be a forward movement, not a backing movement. These details will be just the same when you are riding him.

How can the horse know which way you want him to move his feet? You keep moving toward him, moving his feet until you see the step that you are after. Then you immediately cease the pressure, perhaps rub him or pet him. Let him rest and think a moment before you ask him to do it again. He comes to associate the right thing with a reward.

Why should you ask the horse to do these things? A horse that has not yielded is pushy, disrespectful, self-willed. As the horse learns to yield every part of his body, he also yields his mind, and vice versa. A subtle change takes place in his attitude. When you get on him, he will be in a frame of mind to yield, which is what you want. A horse that willingly lets the rider be the leader is much easier to direct and safer to ride than one that is set on going its own way.

The Bible has a word to describe the person that is cocky, arrogant, and self-willed. It is pride. Pride was man's original sin, and it is still our downfall. The opposite of pride is humility. Recognizing our sinfulness and our need of God is the first step away from pride, but it is not the last. God often takes us to the round corral to work on the various parts of Self that are self-willed.

Romans 6:13 Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. (King James Version)

We may not have front quarters and hind quarters, but we have hands and feet that need to be yielded. We may not wear a halter, but we have mouths that need to be yielded. Are we bringing our thought life into captivity to Christ?

Yielding, or giving up control, at first feels scary, even negative. If we give up control to Him, what might He ask us to do? Be a missionary? Remain single the rest of our life? Give away our money? Perhaps. What about our thought life, our attitudes? He might want us to give up feelings of bitterness, lustful thoughts, an addiction, cravings for more money or things, self-centeredness, or something we desire more than anything else in life.

Contemplating such sacrifice seems too much, too hard. We cannot do it. Although He says He will give us the power to do it, it still seems like it is going to take effort. We may have tried to change before, by self-effort, and it just did not work.

But God keeps working with us, asking us to yield, to try it His way. And when we finally give up and yield, it seems like it is going to be the end of the world, but instead we find unexpected peace. As the old hymn says, to "trust and obey" is the only way to find true happiness.

When we wear God's brand, we must learn to submit each part of our body to Him. It does not happen automatically. But He has exercises specially designed for each part, and if you are weak in one area, that is where He will really work you.

The Bible uses the word "worship" interchangeably with "bow down," which is the ultimate form of yielding. Yielding is at the heart of what it means to be a Christian, and is the truest form of worship. When we call Christ "Lord," we are saying that we yield to His lordship.

Psalm 95:6 Come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord our Maker.

As we submit each part of our bodies to Him, our walk with Him becomes more consistent. The more we yield our hands, our feet, our tongues, and our thoughts, the more we experience a closer walk, a more harmonious ride with Him.

Copyright 1998

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