Groundwork Riding and Training Young Rider

Play the Yo Yo Game

Have you played with a yo-yo, sending it away and then bringing it back to you? That’s how you play the Yo-Yo Game with your horse, teaching him to back (“yo”) and come (“yo”) to you!

Here’s a test. What do you do first before playing any Parelli Natural Horsemanship Game with your horse? Right! You play the Friendly Game (1)! You should also be able to successfully play the Porcupine Game (2), and Driving Game (3) before proceeding to the Yo-Yo Game. It’s important to play these Games in order.

Our goal with the Yo-Yo Game is to have your horse respond to the lightest signal.
You’ll amaze people when you just point at your horse and he backs up! Here’s another good reason for this Game — if your horse tries to nip you, just back him up. He’ll learn to not even try to bite! The same goes for a horse who is always crowding you — just back him up!

Before you try the Yo-Yo Game with your horse, practice by tying the halter to a fence post.

The Backward “Yo”

First draw a circle in the dirt around your feet, about three feet in diameter. This is your own invisible corral — don’t move outside this corral!

It’s important to keep your feet still; it’ll help you learn how to move your horse without you moving. Your horse will respect you, because horses play the game of “who’s moving who” with each other, and by staying inside the circle, you’re the winner!

Your lead rope should be about 12 feet. Stand in your circle and drive your horse backward about three feet (Driving Game in the last issue). The middle of your rope should lay on the ground. There are four phases you may need to get your horse to move backward in the Yo-Yo Game.

Phase 1: Hold the end of the rope in one hand and place your other hand on your hip, so you’ll look like the boss!

Put a really stern look on your face, then wiggle your finger at your horse and think “back up!” If he takes even a half step, stop immediately and smile. He’s trying! Start again until he’s backed up about 10 feet. After he’s backed all the way, reward him by letting him stay there for a minute or so.

Remember to reward the slightest try. When your horse takes even a tiny step backward, stop immediately, smile, then begin again. He’ll try even harder for you the next time.

If he thinks your finger wiggling is silly, try this (Phase 2). Without moving your feet, hold the rope so that your fingers are closed around it and you can see your fingernails. Wiggle your wrist from side to side, which will cause the rope to move. If your horse still doesn’t back up, proceed to Phase 3.

For Phase 3, bend your arm at the elbow, stiffen your wrist and swing your lower arm from side to side in front of your body. Keep your elbow bent! Your horse should be getting the message now! This motion allows him to feel the wiggling rope all the way to the snap. When he does respond, quit. If he doesn’t respond, try Phase 4.

For Phase 4, straighten your elbow so your whole arm moves straight out from your shoulder. (Are you still inside your corral?) Send big, sweeping waves down the rope by moving your straight arm across your chest. By now your horse will really want to move backward!

Our goal is to have your horse respond at Phase 1: Point at your horse and he backs up.

The Forward “Yo”

There arefour phases for the   forward “yo” too. The ultimate goal is to be able to give your horse just a hand signal and have him come to you! Remember, the instant your horse takes one forward step toward you, immediately open your hands and smile, no matter what! And stay in your invisible corral! For Phase 1, smile, bend at the waist toward your horse and comb the rope with flat, open hands, palms up. Make it a smooth, rhythmic motion: right hand on the rope toward the horse, slide up the rope toward you, then repeat with your left hand, right hand, etc.

If your horse doesn’t come forward, put a little pressure on the rope by closing your fingers slightly, keeping the same combing rhythm on the rope. This is Phase 2. In Phase 3, place more pressure on the rope. Remember to keep your rhythm! If your horse still won’t come forward, you may want to ask an adult to try Phase 4, then you can go back to the other Phases. For Phase 4, lock onto the lead rope with hands closed tightly. Hold tight, but don’t pull!

Wait patiently until the horse shifts his weight forward or takes a step. Always give your horse a friendly rub after he’s come all the way to you in the forward “yo.” When you and your horse get really good at the Yo-Yo Game, try bringing him forward over a pole on the ground with just Phase 1! Far out!

Teaching your horse Parelli Games is fun and rewarding, but always have an adult nearby   during these lessons.

What’s next? It’s the Circling Game!

Young Rider

Young Rider

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