It might seem odd, but surely not to those who have been interested in any concept of riding and training with feel: One of the fundamental principles of the Masterson Method(TM) (Integrated Equine Performance Bodywork, see Jim Masterson’s website) lends itself perfectly to raise awareness in the rider/trainer and promote training success with the horse.
It’s real simple. If the horse resists, yield…, then try again. Seems counter-intuitive to many, as we human beings are used to meeting resistance with resistance. In equine bodywork, Jim Masterson found, that meeting the horse’s resistance with resistance or force, would negate any efforts in creating the right state of mind or ‘frame of nervous system’ (for the horse) to successfully relax the horse and help him release tension. Instead, resistance is met with softness. If the horse resists, the handler yields, then softly asks again. Soon the horse registers that there is nothing to resist against, relaxes and becomes compliant and even cooperative.
After practicing the Masterson Method(TM) on many, many horses – client’s and my own – and noticing how these principles almost automatically and instantly spilled over into other areas of my interaction with horses, I became more aware of how this principle can actively be applied in working with your horse, whether it’s riding for pleasure or training with a goal.
Here an example: My horse Yogi (formerly known as ‘Jimmy Dean’, see my blog ‘The Jimmy Dean Story’) had learned in a different environment in a former life, that lunging is a scary thing and it’s best to whirl around, buck and run backwards, then look for a hole in the fence or other escape routes. This prompted lots of folks to provide lots of different input on how such thing should be (man or woman-)handled.
The solution became quite simple when I actively applied the principle of yielding. When Yogi started twirling his hind around, raising his head, slightly rearing and starting to move backwards, I let him do it for a moment, then calmly asked him to step towards me and move out on the circle again. No battling, no fight. Soon – actually after two lunging sessions – Yogi got it: there is nothing to resist against. Whatever it is I thought I’m protecting myself against, doesn’t exist.
Is this an all new and revolutionary insight? No, maybe not. But it helps to keep it on the surface of your consciousness and consciously make it a habit: When the horse resists, yield, then ask again.
Watch this video on youtube to see how this works in a bodywork situation. Then try it on your horse.
Just thought I’d share this with you! Enjoy your horse!