Horsemanship Jr. - Preliminary Skills - Chapter Two continued
The previous lesson taught the maneuver, “Yield hindquarters from a standstill.” As you and an experienced rider continue to work with your horse on this maneuver, let’s go through the actual steps (1 through 5) as they were stated in the lesson. Added below each step are some ideas that can make learning this maneuver easier for your horse and for you.
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 you cues.
If your horse’s attention is taken somewhere else, such as another rider or another horse in his vision, it may be difficult to keep his head turned toward you. But remember we learned that the horse is instinctively very aware of his surroundings, so he will be both interested and curious. Explain in a calm voice that you expect him to listen to you. Take as many tries as you need, and don’t show your horse your frustration. Don’t begin the 2nd step until you are sure that he is watching you and listening to you.
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.
At this point in our horsemanship study, you have never been in the saddle, so ask the experienced rider to point out to you where your foot will be when you are in the saddle.
You now have the attention of your horse, from step 1. However, in step 2 you will actually touch your horse, and this may make him very uncomfortable. We have studied the “comfort point.” It is very important when you are trying to teach a horse anything new. If your horse is frightened or distracted, by your touch, you must back off and try again later. In his fidgety mood, your horse might pull on his quick release line and actually become free, so be sure you are well to his side so he can back up without hurting you. It may take many tries before the horse reaches his “comfort point.”
You may have to repeat this one single pressure point many, many times. But by repeating this, you will teach your horse to stay focused enough to yield to the pressure and move his hips away from the pressure. Then his left hindfoot crosses in front of his right hindfoot. At this point, he has yielded to your pressure. Be patient and when it happens be sure you praise and pat him to show your pride in him.
Some horses, just like some people, are more stubborn than others. If you want to try something else, check with your experienced rider and see if she would agree to another way to apply pressure. With her help you might try the use of the dressage whip. The dressage whip is about 3 feet in length and it will bend so that the horse will not be hurt. Tap the horse’s hind left ankle (1) with the tip of the whip. Make sure you are gentle and keep your practice times to no more than 15 minutes. Keep tapping the leg until your horse moves the left hind leg over the right hind leg.
Whether you use your hand or the dressage whip, continue to teach the maneuver many more times after your horse has mastered it. Repetition will be a great teacher.
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.
Re-read all of the ideas under step number 1 above and apply those to the right side of your horse.
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.
Re-read all of the ideas under step number 2 above and apply those to the right side of your horse.
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.
Keep working on this maneuver on the ground. Have a happy attitude around your horse and let him know you are enjoying working with him. Pat and rub him. Groom him. Be sure that all your signals are consistent during all your sessions on this maneuver. All this time and communication with your horse will pay off in the end as he will learn this very important maneuver, but he will also learn more quickly next time you teach him something new.
(1) Ankle – the ankle of the horse is called the fetlock joint. You will recognize it as there is a tuft of hair on the back of this joint. That tuft of hair is called the fetlock.