I wanted to take a moment to talk about the "Catching Game" this evening.
As a reminder, horses and humans differ in their psychology. The do not desire praise, recognition, or have material-type desires but rather, their hierarchy of needs, as taught by Pat and Linda Parelli is safety, comfort, play, and food (in that order). You cannot bribe a horse to be caught with grain unless the horse really is willing to come to you. This is a prey animal and is looking out for his survival - bribes don't work on horses, not really. If they did, horses that had confidence issues loading in trailers (remember this is often a confidence issue with your leadership) would always go in, even if fearful, as long as the groceries were in the trailer, ready for consumption.
Think about it. Pat uses reverse psychology for horses who don't want to be caught. He earns their trust by using non-threatening techniques. Here are some resources you may want to review:
- Burke's Backyard Fact Sheets - Pat Parelli, Horses That Can't be Caught"
- Natural Attraction in the Success Series, "The Secret of Catching Horses This is Disc Five of Ten in the Success Series DVD Set. Horses are designed by nature to not be caught! By understanding what attracts horses actually changes much more than a catching problem. This DVD also covers leading with savvy. Run time: 1 hour 4 minutes"
- Discover the Catching Game DVD, "Discover the Catching Game with Pat Parelli. Learn how to put an end to the "you can't catch me" game horses play. With this DVD you can learn how to convince your horse that coming TO YOU is the best idea. It's all about reverse psychology - the secret is to have your horse catch you. There are 5 segments to this DVD. Catching concepts (10 min) Pat and a pasture full of horses explore the kind of relationship and confidence that makes a horse want to come to you. The Catching Game (24 min), Pat demonstrates his techniques with an experienced horse and then how the Catching Game works with a horse that is usually hard to catch. More Demonstrations (17 min), Watch two more horses respond to the same approach...quickly, easily, confidently. Question and Answer (21 min), Pat delves deeper into the psychology of catching, and answers questions from horses that are hoard to catch in a stall, to catching horses in a herd. Just for Fun (3 min), Pat plays the Catching Game with three new horses at once before a riveted crowd at the Success With Horses Tour Event in Daytona, Florida." *no longer available on Parelli, the link goes to eBay where you should be able to purchase it.
Please note that there are many more resources that Parelli has put out on this subject that I did not list. Do some Google searching, check out the Parelli Savvy Club, find a play group, and seek out the information! Be proactive in your education and your journey!
Before my life with PNH in it, I remember always walking out to get the horses (not the ones I have now, just others I've been around). They usually had halters on (the web or leather type) or were in stalls. I remember never thinking about what the horse thought, just that I was to go get them for some purpose - and usually it was to please myself, to go ride, or groom, etc., there was always a reason and now, I question is the reasons were ever just to hang out with the horse (maybe a little but, truly, I was more direct-line thinking at the time).
This brings my thoughts to the present. Over the years as I've studied PNH, I have become more cognizant of my actions and my horses' actions (now we are talking about Fosse and Whiskey). I am sure that my relationship is different with these two than any other horses that have touched my life and I know it is because of my practicing PNH. At this point, if I whistle (I have a certain whistle for them), no matter what they are doing, including eating yummy grass in the field, even if they were just turned out and just starting the munch fest, they will come to me, not at a walk, but usually at a canter or gallop. Now this, I thought was the coolest. They are great about coming to me and are interested enough to find out what I want (which is not always to catch them, but sometimes to just check-in).
Now, there have been times when they were not ready to say, come in for the night. I'd get out there, they'd come, look at me, and with a mischievous look, take off like the wind. I took this not as a, "don't catch me" but as a "let's play." So, I'd play for a bit, then start to leave, the horses, running behind me, catching me at the gate, ready to go. Now that is wonderful for all of us.
In any event, the horses are now exploring a new field (the playground I'm building) and I thought for sure they'd be more resistant to come when whistled or called (I also just call their names) because the grass is tall and yummy--would I be interesting enough for them to leave their buffet? What reason would they have to want to? Well, they have been great and I am able to get them, just a whistle or a call of a name and they are there.
However, something even better, or satisfying happened to me today. On Wednesday, I left for a few days on a business trip. Rick had been caring for all the critters as usual. When I got home, he had the horses out. How we have it set up is, they can leave the barn, cross the driveway, go down a 12 foot alleyway to the playground field. (I'll take photos and diagram sometime soon when I give a property development update.) Anyhow, this crossing along with other drive areas create a 4 way stop for farm traffic (as in, I needed Rick to drop the e-fence to let me pass. However, I decided to just park the car and get out, to talk to him, and look at the garden and horses (all near each other). I did not even barely get out of the car, walked to Rick, gave him a hello hug and kiss and the horses called to me and came galloping over! They both got some scratches and hugs from me, and then mosied back to their field. What a homecoming--wow. I felt great about it. It made me realize how strong our relationship is. Fosse has always "talked" to me with his voice and Whiskey would once in a great while--now even he is calling and "talking" to me on a regular basis--very gratifying.
So how is your "Catching Game" in other words, "How is your relationship with your horse?"