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Icelandic Horse Connection

The Seven (7) Games of Parelli Natural Horsemanship

(Video Below and Link to Additional Videos)

Facilitated by Nancy Allen

Introduction The Seven Games (7 games) of PNH (Parelli Natural Horsemanship) are a great way to start training or re-training of your Icelandic Horse / Pony. They help to develop a relationship, a bond, and a common basis / method of communication between you and your Icelandic Horse.

These exercises can be used with any breed of horse such as Missouri Fox Trotters, Tennessee Walkers, Paso Finos, Peruvian Pasos, Icelandic Horses, Quarter Horses, Thoroughbreds, Mules, and Donkeys.

Natural Horsemanship is not an invention of Pat Parelli's, but Natural Horse-Man-Ship is. It is an organization of techniques learned from many great horsemen and put together in a comprehensive form. Pat Parelli developed the program as a progression of tasks that develop horsemanship skills and takes us through a Levels program as we increase our abilities.

Horsemen all over the world are using Parelli Natural Horse-Man-Ship (PNH) with Icelandic Horses. This site will give you links to many other European Country sites Parelli Switzerland: http://www.parelli.ch/. Interestingly, in France, we've heard that trainers must certify in PNH before being able to train professionally.

For centuries men and women have gotten together to discuss ways to make things better for the horse. Through Natural Horsemanship we are asking the horse to do alot of un-natural things though. Be around people. Be saddled, bridled and ridden.

Natural, to me, means working within a horses natural way of understanding (this is through feel) and within his own boundaries. Icelandic Horses seem to understand this natural communication very easily.

I'm hoping to get alot of input here from everyone. Yvonne, Lisel, Paul, Judy and others-I'm counting on you to share your knowledge with the rest of us! I've learned alot from the Seven Games, but my application may be different to what some people use. We can sure discuss the differences! It would be fun and interesting.

Since the clicker will be added to the Seven Games, my purpose is a little different from the ones Parelli lists in his notes for the Level 1 Partnership Program. In his Level 1 notes the purpose of the Seven Games is stated: "PURPOSE: Game #1 proves to your horse that you are friendly. The other 6 games prove to your horse that you are alpha in the herd."

With all of the games I am looking towards building a partnership. I'm thinking alot about feel and developing that from the very beginning. To me, this is the most important and understandable way to communicate to our horse.

I'm never going to use or think about the word dominance.

The Seven Games are not about winning or losing. A horse does not know about winning or losing, unless we teach it to them. I prefer not to teach that. Instead I'll think about setting things up in a way that my horse can best understand and then use the clicker to encourage reinforce that understanding.

The Seven Games are an excellent guide to teach us about body position, observing your horse and improving rope handling skills.

Karen of Windgait
Icelandics playing with Ima, a two-year-old filly, practicing the friendly game.
Karen of Windgait Icelandics http://windgait.com/
playing with Ima, a two-year-old filly,
practicing the friendly game.

Equipment needed: a rope halter is recommended because it is lighter and communicates faster. If you have one, great, use it, but if not that's alright too. It would be good though, to have a 12' lead rope to work with. This is the only equipment I would say is essential because as we ask our horse to move, we don't want to inhibit that request by running out of line. With a standard 6' rope we probably would run out!

The first thing we'll start with in a future post will be how to put a halter on in a way that asks the horse to work with you. It sets up the "theme" of the Games, IMO, of working together.



Putting on the Rope Halter (or Web Halter)

First, let's just review how to put the halter on properly.

This is important because you're asking your horse to help you with this. That, to me, is a huge part of what working with your horse is all about. You're asking him to be a part of the Games right from the beginning. It sets a precedence for all future things. : )

"Organize your halter in your left hand and your lead rope over your right elbow. Place your right arm over his neck and place your halter under his neck and hand it to yourself. Use the fingers of your right hand to push his head towards you as you slip the halter over his nose. Adjust your halter with your left hand and tie it off with the Natural Horse-Man-Ship knot with your right hand."

If you don't know how to tie the knot just ask.

Things to work on here: asking your horse to lower his head and accept you being above him (when you put your arm over his neck). If this is where you have to start, getting the head to lower, then that's where you start.

The head lowering is what you will always ask for. It will always be one of those details that you include.

Let's say, your horse lowers his head, but turns his nose away from you. This is another detail that you want to fix. Your horse's head is now in a sort of loop made up of your arm over his neck and the other arm under his neck and the open halter in between. Use the open halter to ask your horse to bring his nose back to you. Parelli uses his hand, but utilizing the halter works well too. Keep asking until he keeps it there and works with you.

Now if any of the other horses have trouble with the lead rope attached, take it off and help them as much as you can by directing the halter over their nose so that it doesn't bump or bother them. Sometimes this is just where you have to begin. Be considerate of the young horse especially or the hard to halter horse. In the end we will look for your horse to readily put their nose into the halter and REALLY help you out!

Use your clicker where you see fit. If your horse has some issue about touching their ears or having you stand over them, they'll be pretty obvious now.

Attach your lead. You might want to attach it so that the snap, that you open with your thumb, faces in. This is pretty minor, but sometimes the little notch on the snap can bump the horse's chin when you begin to use the rope.

The final goal is to walk up to your horse at liberty, from at least 10' away and halter him.

That's where we'll start. If you halter your horse in a stall, eventually try to do it out in pasture. If anyone's horse is SORT OF with them, but steps away when the actual halter comes up, start again and gently put the lead rope over their neck if the horse continues to be unsure, hold onto both ends and let the rope help you ask him to stay. Only do this if the horse just needs some support-but not if he seriously needs to leave. That would be another issue that we can talk about if anyone needs to.

Click and reward when they stay!

Later the actual Friendly Game will start! If I'm getting too detailed let me know!

I'll be adding a post every two days or so.

Let the list know how it goes! Was your horse comfortable with this way of haltering? Could you walk into the pasture and halter him?

Something to think about as a future goal is asking your horse to target the halter from a few feet away (or more!) when you hold it up and offer it to him. You'll really have a partner in this then!

Maybe ask your horse to fetch the halter by picking it up off of the ground, giving it to you and then asking him to help you put it on when you hold it up. Use behaviors that you've already taught through clicker training! Have fun together! Be creative!

Can you run up to your horse with the halter, jog around him, have him stay and then help you halter him?

Can anyone else think of some haltering exercises that we might try?



The Friendly Game! (smile when you play that!)

"Show us how friendly your horse is and how friendly he thinks you are."

In this game we work to be able to touch our horses everywhere (and I do mean everywhere!) Flanks, stomach, under the tail, mouth, nose, ears, udder or sheath, etc.

Can you touch your horse anywhere without an adverse reaction like tail swishing or ear flattening?

Be careful at first with some spots if your horse is uncomfortable! Use a carrot stick or whip as an extension of your touch for those "question mark" areas while staying in a safe place, observing your horse and using the clicker if you need extra help.

Some things to think about: your approach. Sometimes just reaching for a sensitive area bothers the horse. Start with a not so sensitive area, like the neck and work your way to the more sensitive spots. Continue touching your horse so he understands the progression of your hand and isn't surprised when you touch the more sensitive parts. Never just grab. : )

Use the whip or carrot stick to increase your reach if you are unsure of your horse's tolerance or if you think that your horse might kick. If in doubt-use one of these.

Think of the quality of your touch. Gentle and confident. Not ticklish or jerky.

Something that often works well is making a fist and rubbing your horse in small circular motions-like another horse might. No patting, but you already know that!

Use the advance and retreat technique for difficult areas. Consider your approach. Maybe let your horse sniff your hand before you begin to touch him. Is your approach confident but friendly?

Your assignment: Spend 15 minutes to half an hour playing the Friendly Game. Touch all areas that you safely can and take note of what you'll need to work on. Have fun and enjoy the time together!

The quality of your touch is important because it speaks to your horse.

When you touch the legs make sure that your horse knows the difference between the touch of the Friendly Game and the touch of asking for a foot.

Your horse should be comfortable with you touching his legs without moving.

If you feel safer always keep a halter and lead on your horse and just lay the lead rope over your arm where you can take ahold of it easily if you need to. Try to keep that float in the rope though as you do this so that it's not encouraging movement from your horse. Later you can try the game at liberty. Some people may be able to do this at liberty right away, but not everyone. Don't worry if you can't just yet. Staying safe is more important.

After the Game report back. What observations did you make? Anything you need to work on?

An addition to the Friendly Game is to "individually pick up all four of the horse's feet when you are standing on one side." Either pick out your horse's feet or simulate it. You are looking for cooperation from your horse and for him to be thoughtful of what you're asking, no matter where you may be standing.

For this part of the Game you'll use pressure points to ask your horse to lift his foot. For the front feet you'll use the chestnut as a pressure point, and for the back feet, the cap of the hock.

This is a spot where the clicker comes in very handy. I'm not going to tell you how you teach your horse to lift his feet by using these pressure points, but I would rather have YOU tell ME. Where will you begin? What is the first thing that you will do to encourage your horse to pick up his foot when you touch these pressure points? As always-report back!

Variations: Use your rope halter or lead rope to do "friendlies" with. What other things can you use to touch your horse with all over?

If you feel safe doing this, think about working with the tail. Since the tail is connected to the spine, a stiff tail usually means a stiff horse. Work to loosen the tail. Gently pull it. Make a question mark with it. Move it from side to side. Compare how loose the tail is before and after the Friendly Game.

We can talk more about this aspect too!

Pat lists the pitfalls of this Game would be: "Being oblivious to your horse's feelings, thoughts and reasons for negative reactions.

I used to think, wow, what an easy Game. What's the big deal? I don't have to spend much time with this! I know now that it's a very important Game because you will go back to it often as you progress through the other Games. As I said before, your touch speaks to the horse. It comes from a feeling of good will and true partnership that is inside of you. Be really open with what your touch means and open up your heart to it. Remember too, as we set about accomplishing these Games, never miss an opportunity to pet your horse.

Later we will add some variations to the game!

icelandic horse friendly game


The Zones

Before we move on to Game #2: Porcupine (Fingertip Yield Game) take a look at the graphic that shows the zones: here.

Parelli has divided the horse's body into zones, which we will refer to often during the Games:

"Zone 1: from the nose band of the halter streching out for a mile and a half in fron of the horse. It physically involves his muzzle and his personal space in front of him.

The Delicate Zone: around the eye area, the zone from the nose band up over the ears to the head piece of the halter. It's a delicate area and needs to be treated with care.

Zone 2: from right behind the ears to the break of the withers, the little dip right in front of them. Essentially it's the neck and chest and the end of the zone makes a diagonal line to the point of the shoulder.

Zone 3: from the break of the withers to the point of the hip.

Zone 4: from the point of the hip to the top of the tail.

Zone 5: from the tail head stretching out a mile and a half behind him."

It might make it easier in some cases to use the zones to pinpoint where problems are (touchy or nonresponsive areas) or to describe the areas that we need to stimulate to ask the horse to move.

The Porcupine Game will follow soon.



The Porcupine Game

This is really a very fun Game that teaches the horse to "yield to and from pressure," while also preparing him to respond to leg and rein aids.

We'll be asking our horse to move in six different directions: backwards, forwards, right, left, and the head and neck: up and down.

We'll also refer back to the Zones that were discussed in an earlier post.

We're going to be asking our horse to move in these different directions with just gentle pressure from our fingertips. Rub the spot first, begin the pressure with your fingertips, then rub the spot again at the end of the movement.

For example, I want my horse to back up by applying pressure to his chest. I'd rub the center of his chest, apply light pressure with my fingertips while I look in the direction that I want him to move in.

At first I'll start with the very lightest pressure. Parelli suggests starting out by applying four ounces of pressure (can anyone give a good example of what four ounces of pressure feels like?) then slowly increasing the pressure about every three seconds until my horse moves (remember, in the beginning just a weight shift is considered a try) immediately I stop the pressure, and rub that spot again.

I always look at it as the first rub tells my horse: 1) I'm friendly and 2) I'm going to ask you to do something. Then I'll ask, with my fingertips, then let him know that the movement should end(and he that did well) by rubbing the spot again.

Parelli suggests "smoothly and assertively increase the pressure until the point where your horse is motivated to respond."

He uses a phrase, "be as dependable as a fence post" in how you ask. If your horse "leans on a post, it gets harder the harder he leans." When the horse does begin to move though, "the post doesn't follow him." The pressure is immediately eased off.

You AND your horse should stay with that gentle fingertip pressure. You're not chasing with it, he's not escaping from it. You're moving together. You're partners.

The click can have many applications here that will help your horse quickly understand what you're asking him to do. Always be consistent in how you ask and in starting with the lightest touch.

You apply as much pressure as is necessary to get a response but as little as it takes. Your aim, throughout though, is to always use as little pressure as possible.

I have a friend who always asks me "How much does a fly weigh?" When I ask him how I should cue my horse. We see our horse's flinch when a tiny fly lands on them. They weigh less than four ounces, in other words, and the horse can sure feel it. Four ounces is a starting point though, but eventually, once your horse understands the Game, all that is needed is the intent, light as air, coming through your fingers.

Ready to play the Game?

"Back your horse by his nose.
Move the front end (Zone 1,2,3)
Move the hindquarters (Zone 4)
Move him sideways, left and right (Zone 2,3,4)
Back your horse by his chest (front of Zone 3)
Lower his head to the ground (top of Zone 2)
Raise his head back up (Delicate Zone-Cheeks)"

Think about your body position too. What placement of your body will be most effective in influencing your horse to move IN THE DIRECTION YOU WANT?

Think about the straightness of certain moves and how your body and hand placement on the horse may effect it. Where you ask on the horse's body may actually be asking him to "back crooked" for example.

Look up and in the direction that you're asking hm to move.

Try not to poke or increase the pressure too quickly. Let your horse have some "think" time of about three seconds in between increases.

Plan ahead. Know what you're asking for before you ask but learn from any mistakes.

Remember to rub before and after the movement.

For delicate spots, like the flank (Zone 3) try not to just "go for it" at first. Maybe rub a less delicate spot, like the middle of your horse's back, slide your hand down to the flank, rub again, apply pressure to ask for movement, then rub again when the movement is complete.

With the clicker, your horse will learn really quickly. How creative can you get with the Porcupine Game?

As always: Report back!

Karen of Windgait Icelandics, asking Svertla to move her hindquarters.
Karen of Windgait Icelandics, asking Svertla to move her hindquarters.



The Driving Game

This Game helps your horse "to understand and respond to supporting aids."

In this game you'll ask your horse to move without touching him.

If your previous Game, The Porcupine, is getting good and you're using a soft touch, this next step is just around the corner! Some of you may already be there!

You won't be using your lead rope to cause the movement (you can hold onto it if you need to, but keep the float in it or lay it over your horses neck) instead you'll use a steady rhythm with your open hand or eventually a slight wiggle of a finger or a lean of your body.

To me this game asks you to use your concentration and inner energies. I always breath, concentrate and then think of my energy going out from the palm of my hand to my horse.

I have also thought that it also includes a bit of using the power of suggestion. For example, stand next to your horse's shoulder, facing his hindquarters. Take one big step sideways away from your horse. Bring your arm straight out to the side at shoulder level. Now make a big sweeping motion and point to your horse's hindquarters.

In my experience, the horse seems to finish the movement and you'll see his back end take a step away or at the very least, the muscle will flex. To me, this is the power of suggestion influencing your horse.

Perhaps you'll start by making soft, small motions with your open hand towards your horses shoulder, and slowly increase the intensity of the movement if he does not respond (increasing slowly about every three seconds) until your horse moves. In the beginning you may even need to begin tapping the shoulder. Parelli suggests even slapping the shoulder if necessary-but I don't think that you'll have that need.

Remember, even it you do have to increase to actually tapping the shoulder, when you begin again, you start with the softest rhythm of your hand without touching the horse. You always start with the softest movement and soon, the softest movement is all you'll need.

Think about your body placement. Where in relation to your horse's eye should you begin your rhythmic movements to get him to move in certain directions? Experiment, see what it takes. Add your clicker wherever you see fit and tell the list how quickly your horse caught on.

"Drive your horse forwards towards something.
Drive him backwards away from you.
Side pass him along a fence left and right.
Cause him to lift a foot up and place it down a single step."

What else can you think of?

Be careful in driving from behind if you are in your horse's "kick zone" and he is not yet comfortable with you there. Remember, gentle movements at first. How can you get even softer? ("How much does that fly weigh?")

Let us know how it goes!



The Yo-Yo Game

PURPOSE: Balances backward and forward movements, while developing straightness.

Hi All,

This is a game where you will ask your horse to back away from you, pause, then walk forward to you while maintaining straightness and a light feel, then stop with your slightest suggestion.

The end result will be asking your horse to back with a little wiggle of your finger then come forward when you "comb" the rope by inviting your horse in with your open hand, one after the other, under the rope.

That's probably not very clear, is it? I sort of think of "combing" like twiddling your thumbs, but with your hands, where they circle around each other, while they pass under and gently touch the rope.

You begin by standing directly in front of your horse. You will ask him to keep both eyes on you. If his attention strays you might ask it to come back with a GENTLE tug of the lead rope out to the side of which you want his head to turn back to.

Here is a good time to mention a warning: this is an easy Game to misuse your lead rope in. The way I was taught was to really use that rope to jerk my horse's attention back to me. Fast and hard.

I was also taught, that when I up the phases of wiggling my rope for the back up (which I will describe in a bit) to escalate it to slapping Dan's chin and nose with the clasp of the lead as hard as I could if need be. It's easy to get abusive with this and I personally do not like to see the Game taught this way because it doesn't encourage the development of feel. I think that it uses more force and fear. You have an opportunity though, to go about it in another way. If you just start to think about it, if your other games are good enough, you can apply what your horse already knows in a way that he will better accept and understand this Game.

Some people might have other opinions here and it would be good to hear them!

My experience with teaching Dan this Game, and misusing my lead rope in the beginning, was a horse that just plain tuned me out. He was physically just standing there (what I would call "just taking it") but mentally he had split the scene.

This game was a turning point for me. What I was doing to him really upset me. I needed to come up with a better way to apply it (for my particular horse) because I also wanted to get the best out of our relationship. And I also began to start thinking about the importance of feel at this time. I needed to make a change. So this is what I did:

I stood in front of Dan, a few feet away, and held the lead rope at the end, palm down. I wiggled my finger from side to side. I increased the "pressure" in small increments about every three seconds. Wiggling my finger, tapping the rope with my finger, taking hold of the rope and wiggling the rope gently back and forth in the same rhythm. My wiggles become larger (but still gentle, I don't want the snap to hit my horse) then I'd start walking towards Dan still wiggling my finger and rope gently, then I tap his chest in the same easy rhythm, then use my finger tips steadily in the middle of his chest (remember, rub first, then finger tips) and porcupine a step back. Click/treat and rub the spot.

I'd step back, then begin again with the smallest pressure, a finger wiggle. Soon Dan backed with fewer and fewer steps in between the finger wiggle and his actual step backwards. Then soon, he'd see that finger wiggle, and that's all it took.

So we start this Game by giving the cue that we want as our "finished" cue. We add onto it, then work backwards from there!

If your Porcupine Game is good, you can apply it to teach this in a very understandable way. You may prefer to use a carrot stick to gently add by rhythmically tapping the ground or softly wiggling in the air, then gently tap his chest then porcupine him with it (or a whip will work too) Remember, you can softly rub for the porcupine with a carrot stick or whip too. You may have to play the Friendly Game using these objects first though-which would be a nice way to start anyway, even if your horse is comfortable with them already.

Pause a moment after the back up, then invite your horse back in by combing the rope. You can increase the pressure slowly by softly closing your hands on the rope and combing it this way. Increase to opening and closing your hands and gently tug as you comb. Close your hand a little more, but keep the rhythm. Comb the rope and hold, don't pull. Wait. If your horse starts to back walk with him. Keep him facing you. Keep the same pressure, (no tug of war) just go with him. Let him know that you are with him for the long walk if need be (letting him know that this is important to you) The moment he stops and gives (even just a small give) release.

Most of you may not ever need to use all of the steps, but if you do that's alright, it's a starting place to build on.

Eventually you would want to be able to back your horse up to the end of your 12' (or longer) line, pause, then ask him to come forward while coiling up you rope again.

Strive for straightness (keeping both of your horse's eyes on you), lightness and balance (is your horse's backwards just as smooth and easy as his forwards?).

Advanced Yo-Yo Games: wiggling your finger from any area in your horse's field of vision (even from behind him or from the saddle or while sitting on a fence) and have him back. (Don't worry about having his "two eyes on you" for this! Ha! By this time, it's the movement -your cue- that is meaningful now).

Ask your horse to come forward by just circling your index fingers around each other.

Stand to the side and behind your horse, ask him to back past you or until he's even with you. Porcupine his hindquarters 45 degrees away from you, continue to back him, pause, walk to your horse, take off the lead rope. Walk back to your place and invite your horse to walk to you.

Add poles or obstacles. Play the Yo-Yo Game while your horse is leaving his stall, back and forth through the doorway.

Is it as clear as mud?

Question? Ideas? Insight? All is welcome!



The Circle Game

PURPOSE: Teaches your horse to take responsibility to not change gaits or directions until you ask.

This is a game that resembles longing, but that's not what it is. It is a Game of intent, dependability and responsibility.

The intent comes from us. For example if we swing our lead rope during the Friendly Game, we keep sort of a neutral feeling inside that asks our horse to stand still and stay with us. But if we need to swing our rope during the Circle Game, our intent changes. We're asking him to move and that asking starts with how we present it to the horse, through intent.

Dependability comes from both the horse and the human. The horse knows what to expect when we ask for movement. There is a pattern we'll always follow regarding how we ask for it. There never has to be a question in our horse's mind of what will happen or if we really mean what we're asking. We are dependable on that, and he will become dependable in his response.

Responsibility: The horse becomes responsible for maintaining gait and we are responsible to always ask in the same way with as much pressure as necessary but as little as it takes and no more.

Parelli describes this as "an exercise in which the horse circles around you. You are teaching him to yield his forehand and move out and around you."

A two lap minimum and a four lap maximum is suggested. You'll ask your horse to stop, yield his hindquarters and stand facing you with both eyes "front and center."

This is a very good pre-ride game because you can see if your horse is relaxed, listening and willing to yield his hindquarters.

To begin with you'll want to stand in one spot (later, when you add obstacles you may want or need to walk with your horse while he circles you and negotiates the obstacles). We'll ask the horse to move off to the right "by straightening your right elbow and stretching your right leg out to the side at the same time." This, opens the door, so to speak, to the direction you want your horse to go.

For some horses (who understand your feel through the lead rope) that's all the encouragement they'll need. This is the goal to shoot for.

Pat suggests if your horse doesn't begin to move, "swing the tail of your 12' lead rope (held in your left hand) anywhere from two feet in front of his nose to his withers." I personally would just concentrate on the withers and stay away from the head area with this. At this point, you're still not letting the rope make contact with your horse.

One thing that you might try is to practice your percision with the tail of that rope. Tie one end to a post and see how accurately you can swing that rope and touch different areas on the post or fence with the tail. Make sure that you can be accurate with your rope before you start working with your horse.

The horse should take both eyes off of you and begin to look (and hopefully move) into the direction you ask.

If your horse is not yet moving, this is where you decide how you will proceed. Parelli starts to let the end of the lead tap the horse. Tapping the withers every twirl of the rope, increasing the energy after about three seconds. At this point you may need to start walking (with intent) towards your horses forequarters while still swinging the rope. Keep walking towards the forequarters until the horse leaves.

Immediately stop swinging the rope and let the rope slide through your right hand to the end. As the horse circles around you, you'll pass the rope from one hand to the other without turning with your horse (note: in the beginning, you may need to actually turn with your horse to add a hint of pressure, letting him know that he should keep going).

So you direct by lifting the rope first, and if you need to add phases, the other hand lifts, then swings the end of the lead. Direct, lift, swing. Always the same order so that your horse always knows how things will go and work.

Circle your horse two to four laps only.

To stop your horse, run your right hand down the rope and hold the end in your left hand while extending your right arm asking your horse to yield his hind quarters and face you squarely with both eyes on you.

In this first phase you can also just point to your horses hindquarters and if your previous games are good (like the Driving Game) your horse will yield his hindquarters at this suggestion and stop.

Phase two asks you to swing the end of the lead rope at your horses hindquarters. We are asking him to yield the hindquerters to stop and face you.

The other phases may include tapping the horse with the end of the lead on the hindquarters and upping the pressure every three seconds until the horse yields. I prefer to slap the ground in the beginning. You may also need to slide your right hand down the rope more to have more of a tail end to get near the horse with.

If your horse stops or breaks gate, you'll stop him in the same way described above and immediately start him off again.

C/T where you see fit, although I would personally look to have them actually complete one full circle first, but I'd like to hear how other people teach this.

Teach both directions. Remember that cantering can be tight with this length lead for alot of horses and you might wait until you begin working with a longer line for that.

Later we can talk about changing directions without breaking gait and adding obstacles.

Please ask questions and fill us in on your successes!



SideWays Game

Let's see......Sideways......different from SidePass.

Includes moving the fore and the hind to the side either by pressure (Porcupine) or the suggestion of pressure (Driving).

All previous games should be good before trying this one.

Start by asking the fore to move one step, then the hind to move one step and work up to combining the movement.

The Sideways Game can seem hard to teach until you think about what it's made of. It's actually made up of things that we've already taught, and in the end, we're blending them.

Years ago, when I taught Dan this Game, I had an awful time because I was only looking at it as a whole and not as a sum of it's parts. It wasn't until I broke the task down into easy pieces, that I became successful.

Clicker training helped me do that too!

So, looking at it in this light, the Sideways Game begins to look alot easier.

As Judy said, your previous Games should be good before you try this one. If you are still working on them, that's okay. Take your time and get them down well. They are your foundation and you want a really strong foundation that you can always fall back on.

Next questions: How will you judge when to combine the two movements? If you choose not to use a wall or fenceline to keep your horse from walking forwards, what Game, that you have already taught, will help your horse to understand that he should not step forwards?

This Game I have seen taught where the person is almost chasing the horse. To me the horse was reacting more than thinking. Reacting to fear-and fear inhibits thinking and learning. This takes us back to how well you've taught your previous Games. If you've taught them well you already have a good base of understanding going. And this Game, that in the beginning, appears to be one of the toughest to communicate, will end up being one of the easiest!

I know that everyone who works on it will be successful!



The Squeeze Game

PURPOSE: "Help horses to overcome their claustrophobic tendencies. Develop confidence for trailer loading, jumping, crossing streams, passing through gates, into stalls, wash bays, etc."

You might be on the trail and you ask your horse to go through the narrow opening between two trees. Maybe he balks or if he starts through, he rushes it to get out of that tight spot as quickly as possible. This, to me, is the horse just doing what he thinks he has to do to survive.

Deep in his instinctual memory he knows that tight places are unsafe. He thinks, perhaps, that he's being asked to go into a place that he has no hope of escaping from. His instinct as a prey animal runs pretty deep.

If your horse has some difficulties with this Game in the beginning, it helps to understand his point of view.

This is a Game, though, that helps to develop mental fitness in your horse, through trust, confidence and the help of the previous Games.

The final goal is to ask your horse to pass confidently between you and a fence just three feet away.

To do this you're going to direct your horse the same way that you do to begin The Circle Game. If you ask your horse to pass in front of you going to the right for instance. You'll pick up the lead with your right hand and extend your right arm as you draw it across your chest and then out straight from your right side.

With the other hand you can twirl the end of the 12' lead if your horse needs encouragement to move. Let the lead slide through your hand as your horse walks between you and the fence. As his hindquarters pass you, you'll bring your right arm back slightly, bend your elbow as you ask your horse to bend his neck towards you, bring his front end around and step through with his hindquarters so that your horse ends up straight and facing you. As you're doing this your left hand takes the place of your right hand on the lead.

Eventually you can ask your horse to pass smoothly in front of you in one direction, turn, you trade hands, and then ask him to pass in front of you going in the other direction. Always end with the turn and asking your horse to face you.

Parelli writes: "Master the art of positioning yourself so that you can direct your horse's nose into the space with one hand, and swing the rope with the other to create impulsion. You should ultimately get to where you don't need to swing the rope and just the amount of pull on the halter will signal how quickly you want the horse to go."

Alot of things get accomplished in this game: how freely your horse leads up, how well he gives to pressure to walk forward, turn and stop; with the turn you're asking him to change eyes-he passs in front of you seeing you from one side, turns, and sees you with the other; you're asking him for a few steps of turn on the forehand, a few of turn on the haunches. Speaking of this last part, the more smoothly your horse moves through this the more relaxed you know that he is. This is also a great pre-ride check to see if he is bracing at all and would be a good thing to work out before getting on.

Maybe in the beginning, three feet is too narrow a space for your horse, he might still rush through or worse yet bump you while hurrying through. This would go back to what we discussed in the beginning and you might just need to start with the maneuver of the horse passing in front of you and turning towards you without anything else around you.

Maybe then you'll start by standing ten feet from the fence. You might want to start by asking your horse to pass between two bales of hay set ten feet apart first. Just start where you need to start.

Once your horse begins to show confidence with everything, then you can start decreasing the space in which you ask him to pass through-but never ask for something that you're not confident that your horse can be successful with. Sometimes they will still rub the fence and maybe get a little nervous. Be ready and help encourage and support him if need be.

This is also a good Game to do with your horse saddled. If the stirrups hit the fence or push into his side it will be better for him to get used to it with you on the ground and not in the saddle.

Armed with clicker and treats, take your horse for a walk. Lead him through the gate using the same technique. Use your natural environment to lead him around or through obstacles. Stand on a mounting black and play the Squeeze Game from that position.

Expand the Squeeze Game into working with a gate. Ask your horse to stop and wait repeatedly while passing through the opening (lots of clicker potential there!) Incorporate the other Games in this. Working a gate is really just about patience and thoughtful movement. When the weather was too rainy to ride safely, Dan and I spent time working gates from the ground. Then when it came to opening and closing gates from the saddle, we had it made!

Load your horse into his stall using this technique asking your horse to pass through the doorway in front of you as you stand outside the stall. Ask him to turn then and face you for his click and treat.

Thanks for letting me write up these Seven Games lessons. I hope that you got something out of them. Ask any questions, any time!


Trish rides Starri bareback and in halter to check the mail.
Trish rides Starri bareback and in halter to check the mail.




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