My Submitted Question:
Dear Pat and Linda,
I apologize in advance for the length of this message but I believe the background information is necessary. Please let me know if you have any additional questions.
I have been around horses since I was a child but active with PNH since the fall of 2003. I have an 8 year old Arabian gelding who is a right-brained introvert named Whiskey (acquired in January 2004). Over the years using the program methodology exclusively, I've really begun to develop a better understanding and relationship with this complicated horse thanks to your materials (I have everything you have ever produced after the white VHS tapes, I think). I enjoy studying PNH and am simply fascinated. I can acknowledge that we've had stumbling blocks, that indeed he is maybe more challenging than I ever expected but I am learning so much. Our relationship is strong but much stronger and developed on the ground than while mounted and even just in the last few weeks, I have discovered even more.
This horse was originally supposed to show in A circuit shows and his owner at that time for a variety of reasons needed to find him a new home. She believed that mentally, he needed more than she understood and that a small horse farm "doing" Parelli would be best for him (and someone not going to those level shows).So, that is how I got him.I made the error of taking him to a so-called professional trainer (predator) after I first got him (and because I was being pressured by the horse club). I had played and won the games with him but felt incapable of starting him under saddle. This trainer was well-regarded although I cannot understand why. After three weeks, I was told to put him down, that he was a danger to himself and others. I saw him with her and he was a basket case (and this is just on the ground), totally frantic and totally right-brained. I could not understand this as I was having a great deal of success with him on the ground. I took him home and had to start all over again (the trainer never mounted or did anything she promised). Our relationship was ruined and we started all over again. I will never take my horses to anyone again (unless they are Parelli endorsed). I know that this was a huge mistake and regret it to this day. (I have started my other horse, Fosse, 7 year old gelding, Arabian, left-brained extrovert (acquired summer 2003--the first horse I ever played with using PNH) under saddle too, no issues with him.--this is after I started Whiskey by the way.)
This situation brought me to the realization that only I was willing to take the time it takes with this complicated creature and I started him myself (a couple of years ago), bareback with a rope halter. (Thanks to Parelli and our growing relationship.) I am not saying that I've done it right or should have but did because I had no other choice or option. I don't consider this project finished, not by a long shot and this is where the question (or this question I should say) comes in.
Riding Successes: I've ridden him up the mountain (when I was in Virginia) bareback using the Parelli bareback pad and in the natural hackamore, alone, leaving the other horses in the paddock. We did great, walk, trot, and even cantered/galloped up a hill to get home. All was great, stopped with the slightest suggestion. I've taken him on a several trail rides with other horses (walk/trot), riding bareback (same equipment as above) or using the Theraflex pad and my English saddle and natural hackamore with success. In the outdoor arena, we have done walk/trot successfully (pushing passenger). We have never cantered in the arena. In the arena he lacks impulsion. On the trail, he is even and perfectly impulsive (if you know what I mean). - He loves the woods.
Riding Issues: There have been several times where I've tried to ride (I always do ground prep with him) and he's acted very emotional. This has only happened in the arena. Gulping, popping his head, and lastly, trying to bite me. It seems to me that this is a negative reaction and and emotional one. What I don't understand is where it is coming from, especially because we've had so many successes. I am careful to use my phases slowly and correctly for an introvert, but this thing is baffling. When he does it, I swing my savvy string and he "runs into it." I do move my feet back away from him to not get bitten. This works but I don't think it is solving anything. I have also tried offering treats and this seems to make him happier and has helps but, also, does not seem like a solution. (This does not happen all of the time but is frequent enough to be a concern. It is something he developed over time and after those successful rides (I think...this time line is fuzzy). I usually dismount, play on the ground more, mount again, etc. I've played point to point with treats on the barrels, this has helped. But, I don't want to be handicapped in the arena with a treats only horse! I have to say, that when I taught him to trot, in the arena, we did not have these issues. What I did was, I tacked him up with the bareback pad and hackamore. My other two horses at the time (Wilbur and Fosse) were also in the arena. I had my carrot stick in hand. I directed Wilbur at Liberty to get in front of us, then, I tapped him and asked him to trot, once he was trotting, I asked Whiskey to trot and he did, following Wilbur, Fosse decided to join us and followed behind Whiskey and I. We had great fun trotting around, me on Whiskey and my other two at liberty, no biting, no gulping, just fun.
The questions is, why do horses bite while under saddle and what is the appropriate way to deal with it? I saw Linda dealing with it and someone's horse on a past Savvy Club DVD but the issue was not really discussed as she was dealing with many issues that day. ( I don't know which DVD but am willing to find it if you need me to.) Thanks!
By the way, my original "levels" horse, Wilbur, Thoroughbred gelding, 18-20 year old, is no longer with us (originally acquired Oct 2005). I passed level 1 with him via Carol Coppinger in Sept 2006. Therefore, my intention is to use Whiskey for future assessment (which is why I am stuck in Level 2 limbo - the riding portion - also, relocating from Virginia to New York - has caused a huge delay in any progress for a variety of reasons - and the fact that I have a full-time career.) Fosse cannot be used as he has medical limitations that may prohibit us from performing some tasks needed to be assessed. Anyhow...I want to progress to level 4 and need some guidance or insight. Please note that my horses, Fosse and Whiskey are the two I have now and I have no intentions of acquiring any others. Therefore, I have to learn more and fix this issue.
Thank you in advance for taking the time to read this and your consideration to discuss it.