- Savvy Horse Girl
- 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
Monday, December 02, 2013
Putting Principles and Playtime to Purpose
There are times when people criticize Parelli Natural Horsemanship as nothing but a bunch of games that are irrelevant to real life situations. Of course, these folks are wrong but arguing the point is often futile. As you have read in previous posts, you must lead by example and people will then ask relevant questions even if they don't realize that they are truly interested in these so-called silly games! These games translate to everything - working with your horse on the ground, riding, and emergency situations to name a few! My whole point of this post is not to debate the issue but to share a success.
The Squeeze Game is the 7th game in Parelli's list of games and is a purpose game. This game can be a challenge and very rewarding when it is won. In an article written by Pat Parelli, he notes, when talking about the Squeeze Game "Horses, by nature, are claustrophobic. They are instinctively afraid of small or tight spaces because these areas usually spell disaster for prey animals. The Squeeze Game teaches your horse to become calmer, smarter and braver, and to squeeze through narrow spots without concern."
The reason why this and the other games are so important in building a language with your horse in your quest for a great relationship is that you just never know when the game (or skill achieved by playing it) will come in handy. As you all know, I live in the north and we have snow! Over the last week, there was a storm that yielded lots of very heavy snow that turned into ice. To cut to the point, two of the three dutch doors would only open half way (if that after my best attempts at removing the white stuff) and I couldn't get the ice off the ground to remedy the situation no matter how hard I tried. Now, I could turn them all out through the one dutch door that opened widely and of course return them all the same way but I saw this as an opportunity to test our relationship, test the horses' confidence, and test our squeeze game!
Fosse is the lucky one with a completely workable door. Whiskey's door barely opens half way and there is a snow drift aside it to add another obstacle. Lola has the same situation as Whiskey with the addition of being near the fence adding more of a squeezed feeling for her (not to mention she is rather large compared to the Arabians). And, all around is chunky, bumpy, icy and snow terrain - not ideal at all. During the daytime, they are put out of these doors at liberty and returned at night, in the dark. There is one dim light in the barn and for Whiskey it is perfect due to its placement, Lola however (and Fosse for that matter) are pretty much entering their stalls in the dark.
I am proud to say that all horses have been entering and exiting, at liberty, just fine despite the situation. I initially had to cue Whiskey and Lola to proceed and they did. At first, Lola was a bit reluctant but she trusted me enough to try. Had Whiskey and Lola not worked with me in the past and had we not had the connection that we have, and confidence of course, I'd say I'd have a problem on my hands (and have memories of many horses in the past that would have refused to enter). Remember, the horse's hierarchy of needs dictates that they need safety above all and even with that, they need to have confidence to perform the task (this is akin to trailer loading by the way if you hadn't made the connection). So, through wind, sleet, snow, rain and hail; through barely open entrances in the dark of night, and with no equipment attached, I am able to get my horses in and out of the barn and move them around with no difficulty at all....thank you Pat Parelli.
P.S. The lighting situation is looking bright....stay tuned!