Stay Between the Horse's Ears by Ed Thornton
Ed Thornton

Always looks for the Yes answer in your horse and develop that willing, enjoyable partnership with our horse that we all desire and that makes the time we spend with them so wonderful.

Ed Thornton demonstrates pressure and release. How to get the YES answer & why it is important.
Training is simply a series of questions; you ask the question and the horse answers. The horse can give you 3 possible answers - Yes, No or Maybe. The Yes answer is the correct answer and the only answer that will give the horse the release of pressure. If you are cueing the horse with your legs to go forward then any forward movement from the horse is YES. Stop cueing and release the horse. If you are cueing the horse with the bit and you want him not to pull on your hand and move his head toward the rein that you are cueing him with, any movement in that direction is the YES answer and the horse should be rewarded. Later on you may want improvement, but that small Yes is a start in the right direction.

Why is it important to get a YES answer all of the time?
It keeps the communication lines open between you and your horse. The horse is the most honest being I know. Horses don't lie, cheat, or steal. If your horse does not give you a Yes answer, or doesn't answer at all, you must not reward him with the release or he will learn that he doesn't have to answer. Or worse. Consistency is so important here. The rider must be consistent with his cue system or confusion happens. The more confusion, the further out of control the horse goes. You need the Yes answer to get your horse in the horse trailer consistently. You need your horse to say Yes to you when you want him to cross the stream. You must have your horse say Yes when you ask him to walk past a scary object. You need the Yes answer from your horse in order to develop a willing, happy partnership. But the Yes answer is also a two way street between horse and rider.

When I start with a new student I work very hard to listen to the rider and watch closely to make sure that I am getting the correct YES answer. I know throughout my life I have thought I had the right answer many times to find out later that my YES answer wasn't quite correct. Clear communication is a KEY to the correct YES answer. I have learned to listen, watch, analyze, think and adjust my lesson plan to assure that the rider has a clear understanding of the cue and is sending the correct signal to the horse. If I have done my job correctly and communicated effectively to the rider then I am able to receive the Yes answer from them. If all of these factors are done correctly by the rider, then the horse will respond correctly to the cue and give his rider the Yes answer. I teach my rider to stroke the horse's neck when the horse has guessed correctly or has shown improvement. The stroke on the horse's neck will feel good to the horse and start to build the horse's confidence and thereby dramatically increase the horse's willingness to try harder for the rider. Remember the stroke feels much better than a pat or a slap on the neck. The YES answer from the horse pleases the rider and the release of pressure pleases the horse and the stroke is a bonus from the rider to the horse to show the rider's appreciation. This concept is carried on throughout all of my teaching and training procedures.

With every horse and every rider I always start at the beginning breaking everything down into it's most simplest form. That sounds simple enough, but you would be surprised how many people start out trying to achieve their goal at the end. For their efforts all they receive is the No answer from the horse because it has not been taught to him from the beginning in a logical, step by step manner. I also look only at one of the horses under me, or the rider at a time. I only work on the right horse or the left horse at a time. Let me explain. I believe that the horse is actually two separate animals because of the way God put them together. The right eye never sees the same things at the same time as the left eye, unless the item is directly in front of the horse. If your horse is walking down the arena or street, the right eye sees all that is on his right side and the left eye sees all that is on his left side. That is precisely what makes the round pen work so well. The trainer is in the center of the pen. As the horse moves around him to the left, the left horse is focused on the person in the center. The right horse is looking out of the pen and everything is speeding by so fast the right horse cannot focus on anything. On order to get the Yes answer consistently from your horse you must develop a language that you both can speak. I consider my student horses as if they are from a foreign country and I set about finding a language that I can communicate with to them. The horse speaks perfect equine and communicates quite well with other horses. But I want to be able to communicate with him and to be able to say move this foot over here and slow down, or speed up a little, etc. All I am looking for is the Yes answer. I treat my students, human and equine, with the same respect and understanding.
Remember to know What to, How to, When to. What to: Cue the horse to get the desired Yes answer.
How to: Kiss (Keep It Super Simple) Lesson plan. When to: Apply the CUE. Always looks for the Yes answer in your horse and develop that willing, enjoyable partnership with our horse that we all desire and that makes the time we spend with them so wonderful.

About the author...
  Ed ThorntonThornton Ranch and Learning Center
I met John Lyons in Pomona California in 1989. For the past ten years I have been studying under John and have successfully completed 3 Certification programs. In December 1998 1 started teaching people full time how to get between their horse's ears to gain control. My SAFE HORSE SAFE RIDER THROUGH EDUCATION Symposiums and Clinics offer Knowledge of the horse's behavior patterns, Quick and Easy Control through the reins, SAFETY lesson plans for CRUISE CONTROL and EMERGENCY BRAKES on their horse. Higher level Education.

Contact: Ed Thornton
57980 Cortez Dr.
Yucca Valley, California 92284
Phone: 760-365-2269 / fax 760-365-3245

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This article was published on: January 2003. Last updated on:Today.