Parelli Natural Horsemanship
Natural horsemanship has become very popular in the last
few years, with Pat Parelli's name at the top of the list
of trainers using this method. He has his own unique
program in place for horse owners to follow, or to at least
take into consideration when working with their horses. One
of the great things about natural horsemanship is that you
can use the methods on your young horse that has not yet
been worked with, or on an older horse that you would like
Parelli makes getting started relatively easy. He has taken
the first steps and made them into games that you can
‘play' involving your horse. Parelli uses language and
communication that he says is used by horses to establish
friendship and leadership. The order of the games is
important so you should follow them through from beginning
to end. All you will need for the games is your horse, a
hope halter and a long lead rope.
The Friendly Game is the first game. This game proves you
are a friend to the horse and can be trusted. You should
start quietly and with smooth movements at first,
especially if your horse is nervous. Run your hands all
over your horse and then move on to using the lead rope.
After your horse accepts the lead rope, you can add things
like plastic bags, blankets or anything you have handy.
The second game is called the Porcupine Game. This game
teaches your horse to move away from pressure and not lean
into it. Use your fingers to apply pressure, starting with
gentle pressure and moving to stronger pressure if the
horse does not respond. He will learn that if he moves away
from the pressure, the release is his reward.
The Driving Game is the third game. This will teach your
horse to move away from implied pressure. You will not
actually touch him, but will suggest for him to move with
your gestures. Start out at close range and work your way
away from your horse. You can start by asking your horse to
move his head. Ask him first by pushing your hands towards
him, but not touching him. If he does not move, gently tap
him and then use stronger pressure until he responds. As
soon as you get a response, stop and pat him.
The fourth game is the Yo-Yo Game. This game will help you
get your horse moving backwards as well as forward, without
having to pull on the lead rope for either direction. You
face your horse and get his full attention focused on you.
Leave the lead rope loose and start wiggling your index
finger. At first your horse will not move so take the next
step and move your whole arm along with your finger. This
will make the rope start moving which should get your horse
to back up. Eventually, your horse should move back with
you only having to wiggle your finger.
The Circle Game is the fifth game and may look like
lunging. In this game you will send your horse around in a
circle, he will maintain the gait and direction until you
ask him to stop. He should face you and swing his
hindquarters away from you. Start by pointing your arm and
lead rope in the direction you want your horse to go. You
may have to encourage him at first by swinging the lead
rope towards his hindquarters with your other hand. Once he
is moving, keep your feet still. When you want him to stop,
gently pull on the lead rope and have him face you waiting
on your next command.
The sixth game is called the Sideways Game. This will
involve things you learned from the Porcupine Game. You
should use light pressure on your horse's shoulder and
hindquarters to get him to move sideways. Move the shoulder
a little, and then even him up by moving the hindquarters.
The seventh and last game is called the Squeeze Game. Since
horses are claustrophobic by nature, this may not come easy
to some, but it will help your horse learn to calmly move
through tight spaces without panicking. Start with a gap
between you and a fence, wall or barrel. Send your horse
through by pointing the lead rope with your arm
outstretched. Once your horse can move through this gap,
make the gap smaller and smaller until your horse is just
able to go through without touching anything. This game is
great for helping your horse load into a trailer.
These games can be done by anyone on any horse and will
help open a line of communication between horse and rider.
You will see that these games not only help to handle your
horse on the ground, but he will also seem more calm and
attentive under saddle.
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