"...I truly enjoyed talking with you this evening. I apologize for being the one doing most of the talking, I hope I did not appear to be too overbearing or rude. I'll apologize in advance for my lengthy email as well! I mean only to inform and it must be understood that I believe horses are truly way more than riding and thus, my response covers many, many topics at some length but note that all of this is introducing you to ideas you may not be aware of. There is much more to it! :) I don't expect you to remember everything so no worries, there won't be a quiz. LOL If you like reading blogs, you may want to check mine out. It is called Natural Horse Lover
http://naturalhorselover.blogspot.com/ I've also attached several things for you to read (and there is plenty more where that came from!
Okay, so first, my disclaimer: I am not a Parelli Professional nor do I have endorsement by Pat and Linda Parelli as an official Parelli-related teaching entity. I am simply a PNH student (officially assessed at Level 3 interested in spreading the message, sharing our journey, and helping others. Parelli Natural Horsemanship™ is a trademark of PARELLI NATURAL HORSEMANSHIP, INC. which does not sponsor, authorize or endorse me or my blog this site, Natural Horse Lover http://naturalhorselover.blogspot.com/ . For more information on the Parelli method of natural horsemanship, the Savvy Club, their trademarks, products, services, or other information, you can and should visit http://www.parelli.com/ .
To begin, I am a Level 3 Parelli Student and the Academic Library Director at Clarkson University. I do not run a horse business professionally as my full-time career at the University takes up much of my time and my horses take up most of the rest! I have helped many people and try to move people in a direction that I believe would be beneficial to them and their horses. I ran a very successful study/play group in Virginia (that is still going strong). I tried it up here in the North Country but found that between schedules, distances, and commitment (or lack there of), it was more time and effort on my end than by the group and thus, disbanded it (unfortunately). I am completely dedicated to natural horsemanship and do not follow anyone going in the opposite direction nor do I try to convert anyone to believe in that I am doing. I personally follow Parelli but there are other natural horsemanship clinicians that may be useful to you like Clinton Anderson, Dennis Reis, and the like. Each clinician has a different spin but, for the most part, they are all looking out for the horse-human relationship. For me, Parelli is what I believe works for me and my horses. So, I will give you my take on the situation, take it for what it is worth to you. I am one of very, very few Parelli people in our region (once again,not a professional, just a student - finding a Parelli Professional is the best case scenario--there are none in our area).
I think that you should learn much of what I will talk about and below is basically a fast, overly detailed introductions to get your mind thinking. Remember, horses teach people and people teach horses. The point is, educate yourself and then try to partner with your horse. We have to try to understand why your horses is feeling this way and then move forward to strengthen the relationship which in turn will allow for the interactions between horse and human (with the trailer and in any situation) to become fun (and safe) again. Often times it stems with leadership but I think that there are many factors to consider including but not limited to an understanding and implementation of horse psychology (which this is all a part of), the the leadership role between you and her, the horse's hierarchy of needs, understanding his horsenality, the six keys to horsemanship, and so forth.
Leadership IS NOT:
1. Power. The idea of power is offensive, rude, and simply out of line. Keep power trips out of the picture and you will create a safe environment for your relationship to grow.
2. Waiting for something to happen and hoping the other party will make the first move to allow you to lead. Leaders get the ball rolling, allowing the relationship to build and happen.
3. Being closed minded and thinking that you are always right. Leaders also make mistakes and you must own up to them for the relationship to work.
1. Knowing that change starts with you! If there is a problem, it stems with you, not your horse---kind of like your computer. Computers are not intelligent, they can only think in terms of one and zero. It is humans (the operators/manipulators) that actually make them work to create the wonderful things we do with them. If they are not working right, it is usually our fault. If you've ever watched Pat Parelli (or other clinician) with a horse, on more than one occasion they take a "bad" horse and make him a "good" horse? The horse did not change, his leadership changed making him react differently to the situation. (This is not magic, this is leadership.)
2. Being able to always find the positive in any situation. Dwelling on the negative does nothing but sabotage you and your horse.
3. Not having power-trips. POWER is a dirty word!
4. Understanding that you are a role model, you are infectious--do your horsey friends want what you've got--you'd better hope so because if they do, chances are you are doing something wonderful with and for your horse.
5. Knowing that your horse is evaluating you on a daily basis (perhaps every minute, every second). Does he believe in you and your leadership? Are you trustworthy? Does he want to be with you? Remember you are a predator asking a prey animal to follow your lead---to some horses this could mean something akin to trusting a lion to take them home to meet the pride for dinner. (Do they think they that they are a guest or the main course--hmmm?) Does your horse see you as a scary dominating predator or a partner?
6. Acknowledging a job well done at the very moment it happens. Remember this quote, "Pressure motivates but it is the release the teaches"--Pat Parelli? The release is the acknowledgment or reward (a cookie never hurts either--but is never to be used as a bribe).
7. Someone who leads by example, listens, compassionate, self-aware, tough and courageous, optimistic, intelligent, fun, motivational, creative, accurate, concise, dedicated, punctual, sensitive, enthusiastic, accountable, troubleshoots, understands verbal and non-verbal cues, is able to trust, is trustworthy, plans, and prepares.
As you can see, leaders have a great responsibility. Sure, you can get a horse to do what you want through fear and intimidation but what fun it that? I personally prefer a horse who wants to be with me and who is having fun.
We must also consider the horse's hierarchy of needs. Just as humans have needs, so do horses. Horses cannot truly be bribed to do things, they don't reason like humans, they are prey animals. They are not like dogs either (dogs like praise and recognition as do humans). The question is, have you considered these needs and if so, are they satisfied?
The Horse's Hierarchy of Needs (IN THIS ORDER)
• Safety = Confidence + Leadership
• Comfort = Release
• Play = Fun + Creativity
• Food = Incentive (not a bribe)
Does the horse feel safe with you and have confidence in your leadership? It does not sound like that is the case. To begin with, we should look at how you handle the horse, are your micromanaging? rude? Wishy-washy? What kind of tools are you using to communicate (what kind of halter and lead for instance?) Can you play the games horses play with each other with your horse? In Parelli, they are called the seven games. These are the foundation of the language and can be played in numerous ways and at numerous levels. For the sake of a quick and dirty explanation, here they are: (I've also attached a brief article written by Pat Parelli.)
The Seven Games
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."
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).
The comfort part of the equation is important. Do you give an instant release when your horse offers the requested response? They need to know they can not only trust you but that you trust in them and appreciate their effort.
Play is a huge thing in a horse's life. Are they being asked to do the same old thing all of the time or is there a purpose? Are you playing/riding with obstacles, puzzles, and patterns? Or just running in circles. The mind needs stimulation. At my place, I have a play ground set up for the horses and many other areas that we use to stimulate the play and riding time. (OK, so my neighbors probably think I am nuts...so what, the horses love it!)
Lastly, food is part of their hierarchy of needs but is truly last on the list despite what some people may think. A truly fearful horse won't eat. Treats are good as incentives but depending on the horse's horsenality, will depend on how they are used and never, ever, try to bribe your horse. It is a total waste of time.
The horse's horsenality is another key factor in the partnership or relationship. There are four main characteristics that make up a horse's horsenality. (I've attached a horsenality packet for you to review.)
The question we must explore is understanding if your horse is a left-brained extrovert (dominant and wants to play and have fun, more go than whoa), right-brained extrovert (fearful and emotional with lots of go), left-brained introvert (wants to know what is in it for them and las more whoa than go), right-brained introvert (emotional, can be catatonic, can explode, tendency to stop), or a combination and to what severity in each of the quadrants? Understanding this will help with strategies how to better communicate with your horse, how to deal with issues, and how to have a wonderful partnership. These simply definitions don't cover it at all but give you a glimpse at how different horses can be.
Fitness for partnership means being fit (you and your horse) mentally, emotionally and physically. You need to use the 7 keys to success with horses as a way to get there in all respects (attitude, knowledge, tools, techniques, time imagination, and support). This is all a huge shift from traditional horsemanship and for many, is way too much to even consider (unfortunately). I personally recommend Parelli to everyone (or some flavor of natural horsemanship) but, it is often cost prohibitive, people don't want to put in the time, and so forth. I wish you and your horse only the best.
I could go on and on as you can see and of course, have only scuffed the surface. You are talking with a person who is creating a private horse park with a horsey playground, trails, obstacles, etc! LOL I play games with the horses using patterns and obstacles, we try to keep things interesting, fun, and always keeping the horses dignity in tact (principles always come before goals). I hope that this helps you to understand that there is way more to horse than riding, way more than trailer loading, etc., and that this process, if done properly, will take time, and that you and your horse are worth it! ..."