Training Theory: Yield

Teach Your Horse to Yield to Pressure

Yielding: when a horse softens to (moves away from) physical pressure instead of resisting and moving into it. (see Pressure)

Teaching a horse to yield to pressure is a paramount building block of horse training. Yielding will turn into an entire resistance-free attitude.

Horses naturally push into physical pressure. If you lean against him, he will lean back. I’m sure you have experienced a horse that will not move his rump over when you push against him. There is no way that a 150 pound human can out-push a 1200 pound horse by shear strength.

A horse that has been taught to yield will instantly move his body when you give him the slightest touch to indicate which part you want him to move. He should “float” away as easily as a cue ball rolls away across the pool table with the slightest touch. He should move as easily as a hockey puck on ice. His head should be as responsive as a door on a silent hinge; His body as fluid as a rubber duck in a bathtub. When you push or pull, he should melt into position.

He will be asked to change his head position by putting pressure on his face. He will be asked to change his motion or direction by leg pressure. He will be asked to lift his chest, lower his head, raise his forearm, change his pace, present his hoof, accept his bit – all by pressure from different pieces of equipment and different cues from your body.

It all starts with yielding. And yielding begins with ground training. If you loose this battle, it will be of no value to go forward with training.

The first lesson for a colt usually comes from the halter. When first haltered, a horse usually resists the pulling pressure. Most people think he is resisting moving forward because he doesn’t want to follow. That flies in the face of a horse’s tendency to move INTO pressure. He is not moving AWAY from the pressure as it appears on the surface.

When examined from the point of pressure, the pressure is on his poll. Poll pressure is bearing down on him and he is pressing his head and body up INTO the pressure. He is resisting by moving against the pressure, thus pulling backward.

When he yields to the poll pressure, he automatically lowers his head and takes a step forward (away from the pressure bearing down on his head) and the pressure is released. (see Release Training) His first lesson in yielding is learning to take pressure cues from his halter.

He should be taught to yield every part of his body: disengage his rear, his front, his side. Pick up his feet, lower his head. Each part of his anatomy must be taught to move away with the slightest touch. And you have to teach each part separately.

After halter-acceptance, start your work with disengaging his rear. That is a first step in safety. A horse who turns his face toward you instead of his hindquarters is not in position to kick. (see Disengage Rear)

Then move to Flexing. (see Flex Training)

Work here will insure the success of work under saddle.

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