yielding the forequarters - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 8 Old 06-11-2019, 01:48 PM Thread Starter
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yielding the forequarters

I recently bought a horse after riding and training horses for quite some time. I use the Clinton Anderson method, but as I have noticed, my horse is having problems yielding his forequarters. I ask and demand it from him, but whenever I do so he backs up, then when he realizes that doesn't take the pressure away, he's put his head down and waits for me to stop telling him to do something. The only time I've gotten him to move his front end in a "one foot over the other" manner was when I was leaning into his shoulder and he decided to follow me. He's a very willing horse and knows very little training, so I don't think he's doing it out of disrespect, rather, he just doesn't know what I'm asking. He's also very clingy and hates the idea of moving his head away from me and would prefer to follow me around. I'm trying to be patient and figure out a way to get him to respond better, but without success.
Any suggestions as to how I can get him to yield?
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post #2 of 8 Old 06-11-2019, 02:00 PM
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If the only way he understood to "yield" the front end was when you leaned into his shoulder, then start with that, and reward when he takes one step over. Then see if he can do it when you lean into his shoulder and put your other hand up near his face, and reward if he takes a step. Then see if he can do it with one hand on his shoulder and the other near his face. Then see if he can do it without hand pressure at all.

Essentially, start with what he understands and slowly turn it into what he doesn't understand. It's like taking a sentence he understands and slowly replacing the words for what he doesn't understand, until he begins understanding - one by one - the new words. Finally, you'll be able to have a completely new sentence (that still means the same thing) that he does understand, even if now, it's completely foreign to him. You won't be able to get him to do this all in one session for this reason - he needs to replace and learn one word at a time. I firmly believe that there's no one "right" way to teach something to a horse, and that what works for one horse might not work for another.
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post #3 of 8 Old 06-11-2019, 02:16 PM
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I don't really know what yielding the hindquarters means or if you're doing this only from the ground or wanting to ride it.
I'm wondering if its what we call 'turn on the haunches', where the front legs move around the back legs with the back legs remaining close to the 'spot?
Its a much harder movement for the horse to grasp than turn on the forehand because their knee jerk reaction is to move back and front legs around at the same time.
I find placing the horse alongside a fence helps and putting a leading type pressure on the rein going in the direction you want them to move towards is better and a better transition to saddle than pushing them into the direction
This video looks at turns on forehand and haunches so might help, her instructions are really clear

Just winging it is not a plan
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post #4 of 8 Old 06-13-2019, 10:27 AM
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Yielding the forequarters from the ground;
I would position the horse so that he is facing me and the horse is within reach of my cue stick, but not on top of me. Point in the direction you want him to move, then with a cue stick or flag in the opposite hand you will suggest with pressure from that aide. I would start with the flag away from him, then moving it closer to his opposing shoulder until he move off the pressure, If he does not move from the pressure of the flag alone I would make contact with the flag on the shoulder. I prefer a flag made of plastic rather than cloth because it creates more energy/stimulus and can make moving a horse off of pressure a little easier in the beginning stages of training. Remember reward the slightest try, by releasing the pressure. Timing is important as they learn from the release, but its also important to use an aid that generates enough pressure to get the horses attention and gets the horse to response. From your post I am guessing you are just not assertive enough to get a response from this horse, and by asking and not getting a response you have desensitized the horse to your cue.

Best of luck
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post #5 of 8 Old 06-13-2019, 01:10 PM
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Could you describe how you have had success with the other horses you have trained? or, perhaps, post a video of you working with this horse?

A horse that is 'clingy' is one that likely has learned that when he is close to you, you don't drive him places, but rather allow him to stand peacefully and rest.
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post #6 of 8 Old 06-27-2019, 01:11 PM
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I disagree with the not being assertive enough thing. I don't think being more assertive will do much, other than lead you to beating a confused horse, who is clearly already lowering his head and telling you he doesn't get it!

Besides that, I have found yielding the forequarters to be the most difficult thing I train on the ground. I'm not sure why, but I either have the lead rope too short and they move but get yanked, too long and they go away from me with all 4 feet and maybe even forwards or backwards, or they just don't get it and do exactly what you are saying where they stand there.

After this happened with a few horses I started teaching the yielding the forequarters, or turn on the haunch from the saddle instead. I knew better how to use my own body for that maneuver. The horses get it, then I do it from the ground. One of my horses is worse on his left side so I often have to get on and off and practice it from the saddle and the ground until it gets smoothed out. I do this because just being assertive and wacking him isn't fair to him.

I would not expect the horse to cross over the front end perfectly at this point. That's more of honing the technique once you've established the basic concept of moving the front end away. I have seen the CA video for this, and he goes into the front leg crossing over thing too quickly, and doesn't acknowledge the little steps in between.

I would give this horse some tools to help him out. Does he know how to back up with a wiggle on the lead? You can use that as a tool to help you with yielding the forehand. You say he moves away when you lean on him, that's a tool he has already installed. Use it! Then adapt it to fit your needs, or to fit the CA style of how to ask for the yielding.

I think aprilswissmiss's idea is what I would do. But take it slowly. Do 5 min where you push on his shoulder and if he moves 1 front leg away, stop and reward him. This is your foundation for the idea. If you don't give him those little successes he will shut down like you have described. He sounds like a good horse, he is trying, but just a little low on ideas in his head for what to try next.

The next day ask him to yield the forehand using the same shoulder pressure, but ask him to move both front feet. Don't worry if he moves backwards or forwards just yet. You want him to move his front feet, so it he does that you need to reward him. Then slowly build the expectation. Go slow, and see if you can make it into a game for him. Push on his shoulder with one hand, lead in the other, and start to refine the movement. Go slow, to the point where he's only feeling enough pressure to move 1 foot at a time. Then you can better control which feet he moves.

Then day 3, refine the movement even more, still by pushing his shoulder over, but ask for him to take 2 steps away instead of just moving 1 foot or taking 1 step. Build his confidence here for a while. Make him feel like a pro! Do this for several days until he has mastered the movement of you pushing him shoulder and he takes 2 steps over. THEN you can start refining it further, and help guide him to step across the front. When he steps over reward when he crosses over the front. If he doesn't do it at first, then keep asking until he accidentally steps in front and reward. Again go slow with this new expectation. Wait until he has mastered it before moving on.

Now I'm at day 4 or 5, the horse yields it's forehand with shoulder pressure, but I want him to yield over when I pat the air next to his neck/face. Start with the shoulder pressure that day. Establish what you know, he should be really good at it by now! With one hand that has the lead rope pat the air near his face/eye, while pressing his shoulder with the other hand. You are essentially teaching him 2 cues for the same maneuver now.

Next day, like aprilswissmiss said, slowly graduate off of the shoulder pressure until he moves off the air tapping pressure. This could take several days and you need to stop to reward his effort, even if he isn't doing it perfectly. Soon you will be at a point where you can pat the air and just touch his shoulder so gently and he will move. Then try without the shoulder pressure at all. See what you get. If it doesn't work, remember you have a shoulder touch you can fall back on until the transition is smooth and he understands to move off the pressure with you tapping the air.

Then you can refine the movements with tapping the air just like you started with him when pushing the shoulder. Build up ensuring he is crossing over the front leg, more steps, quicker response, etc.

When you go to the saddle you now have 2 tools to teach turn on the haunch. You can carry a stick in your hand facing toward his face that you can tap the air with, and you can stick your foot forward on his shoulder and push his shoulder with your heel.

Sorry for the novel, hope it helps. Just go slow and reward the tiny efforts along the way, your horse will appreciate it.

Ah one more thing as an after thought... have his butt up against a fence so he can't back up.
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Last edited by Filou; 06-27-2019 at 01:16 PM.
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post #7 of 8 Old 06-27-2019, 01:38 PM
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Moving the shoulder over is something none of my horses can do. Its weirdly so difficult to teach!
So I'm following this thread in hopes of new tips that might work

Babydoll Southdown Sheep
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post #8 of 8 Old 06-27-2019, 03:14 PM
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When I'm ground working my youngsters and teaching them to yield the fore quarters. I first set them up by walking forward till the front leg near me is slightly ahead of the outside leg. Then when holding on to the lead rope near the halter, gently push or tip his head away from me. Next place my hand about where the front cinch would be (position one) and with my finger poke him over and as soon as he moves the inside foot over the outside release the pressure. Then reapply the pressure once again and get the second step. Set your horse up for success by placing his feet in the proper position makes all the difference to begin with. Then heap on the praise and give him a pat. If you do this diligently he will react to leg pressure in the saddle the same way.
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