About Me

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North Lawrence, New York, United States
I can be described as lover of life, an animal lover, and lover of education. I am constantly striving for knowledge and learning opportunities. I've been around horses my entire life. I enjoy working with horses and their human partners through natural horsemanship philosophies, natural balance bare foot hoof care, reiki, red-light therapy, essential oils, aromatherapy, crystal healing, chromotherapy, flower essences, and more. I am a Usui Shiki Ryoho Reiki Master Teacher who offers treatments for people, horses, dogs, cats, and other creatures great and small. I also teach Reiki classes for those interested in learning how to treat themselves, their loved ones, and even their animals! Natural Horse Lover Farm is located in Northern New York between the St. Lawrence River and Adirondack Mountains. Heaven on Earth. naturalhorseloverfarm.com

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Are you speaking the same language as your horse?

Funny Hugh Laurie & Stephen Fry comedy sketch! 'Your name, sir?' - BBC comedy
Video downloaded from YouTube

***To view and listen to this video successfully, please remember to pause the Play List Radio first. The radio is near the bottom of the blog. ***

So what did you think about the video? I think it is funny but then again, I've always enjoyed humor from across the pond. The point is, these two characters were talking in the same language but not really communicating, not well anyway.

Are you speaking the same language as your horse? Does he seem to understand you? Do you understand him? Are you in sync or just occupying each other's time with little communication? Are you hearing or actually listening to each other?

As Parelli students we all know that our common language with our horse is the 7 games. If you've been studying, you know that the games are ways horses communicate with each other and that games 1-3 are principle games (a foundation of your language) whereas games 4-7 are purpose games (the language expanded for higher levels of communication). You also know that these games can be played using thousands of variations, while on the ground or mounted, and that your creativity is the only limitation (which is in-part why Pat released the new materials called the Parelli Patterns.)

To be certain I am communicating to you, and if you need a refresher, here are the seven games, listed and briefly explained:

Game #1 The Friendly Game
"This game proves to your horse you will not act like a predator, that you are friendly and can be trusted."

Game #2 The Porcupine Game
"This game is called "porcupine" as a reminder that the horse should not lean against a point of pressure but learn to move away from it."

Game #3 The Driving Game
"This game teaches the horse to respond to implied pressure, where you suggest to the horse to move and he moves without you touching him."

Game #4 The Yo-Yo Game
"The object is to get backward and forward movements equal and light."

Game #5 The Circling Game
"Do not confuse this with mindless lunging! The Circling Game develops a horse mentally, emotionally and physically. It teaches him to stay connected to you and get the tension out of the line between you while maintaining his gait and direction."

Game #6 The Sideways Game
"This is teaching the horse to go sideways equally as well to the right and left, with ease."

Game #7 The Squeeze Game
"Horses, by nature, are claustrophobic. They are afraid of any small or tight space. The Squeeze Game teaches your horse to become braver and calmer, to squeeze through narrow spots without concern."

To learn more, consider reading Pat Parelli's article, "Understanding the Language of Horses by Pat Parelli" (Courtesy of Natural Horse Magazine).

OK, so what language are you using? To know and understand the games and that they are your language does not mean you are "speaking" correctly and actually getting through. Technique is as important as knowledge. The tools are another issue--what are you using anyway? So, do you remember the 7 keys to success? Can you recite them? Here you go if you are having trouble:

Attitude, Knowledge, Tools, Technique, Time, Imagination, and Support

For an explanation of the 7 keys, consider reading this article, "The 7 keys explained," by Parelli Professional, Geneviève Benoit.

How is your technique? I cannot tell you how many times I've seen fellow students or enthusiasts doing things to their horses that drove me nuts! (Although to be fair, I've seen much more good than bad.) Anyhow, those doing bad, wrong, inaccurate, or otherwise incompetent things made me want to take their horses away from them and tell their horse that not all humans are this way. Now, I am far from perfect so please don't misunderstand me. I know I have plenty of room for improvement, tons to learn, but, keep reading to learn why I have felt this way--I think you will agree.

Examples of human incompetence! (Why people should actually study and learn, then go practice instead of just using their horse as something for their own entertainment.) *Note some of this is Parelli people and other instances are that of gunsels.

Case #1- Talking the Talk
Imagine this, you know that the person you are observing has been studying Parelli for at least a year (or claims they have) but still cannot recite the 7 games nor do they understand what the point of each one is. Are you kidding me? It is not rocket science folks! How can this be? I am baffled and speechless. (Well not speechless.)

Case #2- Walking the Walk
The definition of the Porcupine Game (game #2) is to use applied pressure, using the appropriate phases, to move your horse around, you are teaching them to move off of pressure rather than into pressure. I witnessed, on more than one occasion, a woman using her carrot stick like a stabbing implement in order to get her horse to move. The woman looked like a fool, the horse looked at her like she was nuts, and I was going out of my head about it! I even gave this person several lessons on proper technique (and was asked to do so). When I played with the horse, she moved around as asked, no trouble. This horse person has viewed this game being done on several videos by Pat, Linda, their students, etc., and still, stabbing at the horse! Good grief (to put it politely). I don't even want to discuss the other 6 games oye vey!

Case #3- Horses are Servants to Humans--What?
When I lived in Virginia, my husband and I were camp hosts on Flat-Top mountain for the National Forest. I cannot even count how many walking/gaited horses I saw with riders flopping around on their backs, huge bits for breaks, spurs, yelling and absolutely cruel and ridiculous behavior by their owners. Talk about needing the ASPCA! I mean what the heck is wrong with people, the horse is not a motor vehicle, it is a living creature and these poor horses, in my humble opinion (if it were ever really humble) is that they were being tortured for the enjoyment of their riders (knowingly or not). I have friends with walking/gaited horses and they are natural, one does PNH and the other Clinton Anderson, their horses are happy and willing partners.

Case #4-Fear, Fear, Fear = Failure
Fear is a genuine thing and I understand it. I had a terrible jumping accident prior to PNH (12 years ago) and was told never ride again--and I gave up horses for several years (as per my Orthopedic Surgeon). Well, you can't take the horse out of a born horse nut! So, years later, I bought Fosse (a youngster--probably inappropriate at the time--all well). But, I sought out a better way to be with my horses looking for not only technique but a philosophy that adhered to my personal beliefs (thanks Pat Parelli) and worked through any fear issues (thanks Stephanie Burns and Linda Parelli). It took time and persistence, support, but I did it and so can you!

Why are so many PNHrs still using fear as an excuse not to ride or even just not to be with their horses? You have to work through these fear issues folks, if not for yourself but for your horses! I know a lady who could not stand near her horses and owned 3--one a mustang! She literally grabbed onto me and stood behind me in terror when her horses came to us in a field for a look-see. Can you believe this?

For the afraid, fear may have brought you to Pat for help but, his program will also address those issues. However, you have to do the work and get through it (check out the Level 2 pack about fear--it is very interesting--do your homework and move on). You learn, grow, change, and find success by moving outside your comfort level (approach and retreat--this is a technique for the human often forgotten). Please be brave, learn, get support, and enjoy your horses. You can do it and can be successful. You can play on the ground, ride, and even compete if you want to! You don't need to have a pasture ornament (unless that is what you want anyway).

For more on the comfort zone, see my blog post, "Move Your Comfort Zone Challenge," Monday, June 16, 2008.

Finally, tools--what the heck do you have on your horse and in your hand? Once again, my personal preference but, I prefer the genuine, Parelli items. That said, I wanted to make a natural halter into a costume class halter for a fun show and bought the supplies at Natural Horse Supply (who I believe is under new management) to make my own fancy halter with beads, tassels, etc while still maintaining communication with my horse. It served the purpose very nicely (we won the blue--the photos are on the blog). People have preferences but I've tried many knock-offs with friend's horses and did not like the stuff--it usually lacks true feel (if that makes sense). So, now, if I am playing with someone else's horse, I bring my genuine Parelli equipment, always.

I guess the post rambles quite a bit and I do apologize. My point is, if you are communicating with your horse, please be sure he understands you and that you have taken the time to improve your technique, are using the right tools, that you do your homework and know the language (terminology, purpose, psychology, etc). Be kind to yourself and your horse and you'll be happier for it (and so will they).

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