"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 often said that the rider's use of the aids-hands, legs, seat, shifting of weight-should be invisible. With a finished horse, the aids should be imperceptible to an onlooker. Consequently, many riders make the mistake of trying to ride a green horse with imperceptible signals.

A green horse needs just the opposite. He needs your signals to be very obvious, so he can figure out what you are trying to tell him. Once he has learned what they mean, and does them well, the rider can begin making them more and more imperceptible, so that eventually the horse learns to respond to the smallest change in the rider's movements.

When you ask the horse to stop, start, speed up, slow down, or turn, be very definite at first, but only as definite as you have to be to get a response. You may even need to exaggerate your signals to be sure the horse understands what you want.

Appeal to the whole horse with your whole body. Make sure your hands, legs, and weight are saying the same thing, not contradicting each other. If your hands are pulling back, be sure your legs and weight are not saying to go forward.

Some think that over the years, it is to be expected that the horse will gradually become more "dead," so that after a period of time, we need to apply the aids harder. It should be just the opposite. Over time, you should continually refine your aids, so that the horse learns to respond to lighter and lighter pressure.

You offer him lighter pressure, and when he responds, you reward him with the instant release of pressure, so that he learns he can avoid the application of stronger pressure. Eventually he might respond to the slightest shift of weight, turn of the body, tightening of leg muscle, or lift of the rein. This is how a horse becomes lighter over time. The ultimate in responsiveness is being able to ride your horse without a bridle.

But lightness is not something you work on with a green horse. His job is to learn to decipher your signals and to make proper responses. You ask him as lightly or heavily as is necessary. He needs to develop a solid foundation before he goes on to finer levels of response.

As believers, our first priority ought to be to develop a solid foundation in God's Word. Some might think the basics sound boring; why not skip ahead to more exciting, flashy things, like teaching, public speaking, or some ministry? But without that grounding, we have not learned how to listen for His voice in His written Word, or how to respond to His voice.

At first we have trouble recognizing His voice. There are lots of attractive competing voices, and the green Christian may have trouble distinguishing between God, self, Satan, and the world. There are also the attractive voices of false teachings which we must beware of. We must develop a discerning ear. Like the horse, we must learn to observe and compare.

When we are unclear as to what God wants from us, whose fault is it? It is usually our own, for God speaks clearly in the Bible, especially on the basics. If we do not know these things, it is because we have failed to read and study.

Later we can go on to more complex subjects. But there is no point in studying prophecy when we are not yet clear on the foundational doctrines or the basic concept of daily yielding to God.

At first God may speak rather loudly to us, because He knows we are unsure of His voice, and we find it easy to miss or ignore. Over time we learn to hear the still small voice of the Holy Spirit. When He knows we have learned to be more responsive and obedient, He can refine His signals, and does not have to use as much pressure to get our attention.

Psalm 32:8 I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye. (King James Version)

Eventually He may only need to catch our eye and give us that meaningful look. He wants us to be light to His aids.

Copyright 1998

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