"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

Getting the horse to accept the presence of the human and the rope and flag is not the purpose of the exercises in the round corral. Those are only preliminary. Their purpose is to facilitate the saddling of the horse and the acceptance of a rider on his back. They help introduce him to the human's world so that the horse can become useful in man's world.

When the horse learns to accept the rope and respond correctly to it, he does not automatically respond to the flag in the same way. He shows initial alarm, and must learn to accept and respond to the flag in the same way that he did the rope.

And when he has learned to accept the flag, he has not "arrived." He may think so, until he sees you approaching with the saddle blanket. Here is something else new and suspicious to deal with.

However, his previous experiences have taught him that what the human does to him can be accepted, and no danger will follow. This is why it is so important to gain the horse's trust and then not to betray that trust.

His acceptance of the blanket, the saddle, and the snaffle bit is usually much quicker and less traumatic than the lessons with the rope and flag. New things are still suspicious, but he has gained a certain measure of trust in the human. When the human gets into the saddle, it is disconcerting, but by now, the horse has learned to calmly accept many new things from you.

Little does he know that the whole point of what has been done so far is to get him to the point where the rider can guide and direct him from his back. The rider must be able to get his attention (get him hooked on), move his feet, control their speed and direction, control both front and hindquarters, and get the horse to yield with a soft feel.

When God first takes us to the round corral, ropes us, flags us, and gets us to finally hook on to Him, we may think that we have "arrived." This is all there is to it. We have done what He wants. OK-fine.

Then He approaches with the blanket and saddle.

"What? There's more? But I thought I'd done all that He wanted! I gave up my own will, I came to Him, I accepted Him. What more could He possibly want from me?"

Like the horse, we have no concept that the whole purpose of what He has done so far is to get us to the point where He can guide and direct us in everything we do, for the rest of our lives. We may not be too enthusiastic about this concept, but we see that now we belong to Him. Our wills are no longer to be our own; they are to be submitted to Him in every aspect of life.

Romans 12:1-2 …Present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

We may still be wary of some of the things He asks of us, but we have placed our trust in Him, and He will never betray our trust. We are beginning to learn that His will is good for us in the long run, and is something that we can accept without fear. We are learning a whole new way of life, under God's saddle.

Copyright 1998

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