Horsemanship Jr. - Preliminary Skills - Chapter Two continued
“Yield hindquarters from a standstill” is one of the most important preliminary skills that you will learn. We will call it a maneuver, which is a movement that you will teach your horse.
Before I begin to explain this maneuver, re-read our earlier story about Marcy and Jennifer and their horses, Fanciful and Slo Poke. Do you remember that Marcy’s mom did not allow the girls to ride, as she told them about youngsters who were hurt in horse accidents? She said those accidents could have been prevented, if the youngsters had gone through preliminary training. Well, Marcy’s mother would have considered this maneuver as one of the most important in preliminary training.
In fact, Marcy’s mother would give the girls the following cautions:
DO NOT TRY TO LEAD YOUR HORSE UNTIL HE UNDERSTANDS THIS MANEUVER.
DO NOT TRY TO CAPTURE YOUR HORSE AND PUT ON HIS HALTER IN THE MEADOW BEFORE HE UNDERSTANDS THIS MANEUVER.
DO NOT TRY TO BRIDLE AND SADDLE YOUR HORSE UNTIL HE UNDERSTANDS THIS MANEUVER.
DO NOT TRY TO RIDE YOUR HORSE UNTIL HE UNDERSTANDS THIS MANEUVER.
DO NOT TRY TO TEACH THIS MANEUVER TO YOUR HORSE WIHOUT AN EXPERINCED RIDER AT YOUR SIDE.
Now that you can see how important this maneuver is, please read the following carefully to understand how this maneuver makes your horse less powerful and more willing to follow your commands:
Your horse is so much more powerful than you are. He can rear and bolt and refuse to go forward or backward. When his back legs are set wide apart, he has the most power and ability to move. He can defy you and he is not in a learning mode. Try it yourself – when your legs are set wide apart, we say you are in a power stance. You can punch or run or leap to grab onto a horizontal bar.
But if you move one of your legs in front of the other, you lose much of your power and ability to move. You are no longer in a power stance, because you no longer have your legs set wide apart. The lesson below will simply teach you how to command your horse to move one of his back legs in front of the other. And in that stance he will lose his power and ability to move. This is called a “full halt” and he cannot rear or bolt or refuse to back up. And since he cannot do any of those “horsey” things, he will concentrate on your commands.
SO, the meaning of “yield hindquarters from a stand still,” is that the final maneuver will be that you can get your horse to move into a stance where one of his hind legs moves in front of the other hind leg and your horse will lose much of his ability and power to move. Mentally and physically you will have outsmarted him, and he doesn’t care because as I have told you, “He wants to understand you and to please you.”
HERE ARE THE ACTUAL STEPS FOR THIS MANEUVER:
1 Face your horse’s left side and with the lead rope in your left hand, pull with slight pressure to get his head to turn toward you. This gets him to pay attention to your cues.
2 Apply pressure with your right hand on the horse’s side where your foot will be when you are in the saddle. The horse feels your pressure and moves his hips away from the pressure. THIS IS THE POINT OF YIELDING THE HINDQUARTERS as his left hindfoot crosses over and in front of his right hindfoot. The horse yields to the pressure of your hand.
3 Now move to the right side of the horse. With the lead rope in your right hand, tip the horse’s nose toward you with slight pressure on the lead rope.
4 Apply pressure with your left hand where your foot would be in the saddle on the right side of the horse. The horse will feel the pressure and move his hips away from the pressure. THIS IS THE POINT OF YIELDING THE HINDQUARTERS as his right hindfoot crosses over and in front of his left hindfoot. The horse surrenders (yields) to the pressure of your hand.
5 This is called a full halt when the horse stops his front legs and hindquarters immediately at the same time. You will first teach this maneuver to your horse on the ground, so you will be giving the signals with your hands while you are standing on the ground next to your horse. MUCH later you will give these signals from the saddle.
Please read this entire lesson several times and we will have much more on this maneuver next time.
But be assured it will take a long time when you actually begin to teach this maneuver to your horse. So be prepared to have patience with your horse.
After all, his instinct tells him to be able to run from danger at any point, and you are trying to teach him to lose his ability to be powerful and to lose his ability to move quickly, and to yield to your commands.