Who else is typically a skeptic to the point that you might even talk badly about something without ever having tried it? I certainly am when it comes to anything in the horse world that has been commercialized, BUT I have changed my mind about Parelli Natural Horsemanship. Why?
Before I can move to ground driving or working under saddle, I must first know that my horse can work in a forward frame of mind on a lunge line. Teaching a horse to carry forward energy on her own is key to having a horse that will be responsive to light aids and bold/confident when approaching new obstacles under saddle.
In this first session with Q working to teach her about maintaining forward energy on a circle, I hope you can see the progression from frustration and confusion to her lightbulb moment of learning to maintain forward energy on her own. It takes lots of small adjustments to body position, intensity of aids (the end of the lead rope and my voice in this case), as well as patience and good timing for rewards.
Also, always keep in mind that no matter what you do with your horse, they need mental breaks just as much as physical breaks. In this 30-minute session with Q we had a break for free lunging, and a couple breaks to go back to "forward, halt, back" as a way to give her a mental break.
It's a long video, but I chose to share the full session (I only cropped out the sections where we ended up being out of the camera frame) because I hope you can learn by seeing the "struggles" that resulted in the success. And please notice that once I got her going in her more challenging direction to the right, I stopped after only a few circles. There is no need to continually drill your horse asking for perfection. Often times the best reward in your horse's mind is being able to rest as soon as they figure it out.
Of course each horse is different, so there's never a one size fits all solution, but Q's personality is one that is more timid and thoughtful. If you have a horse that tends to be bold and even pushy, you may need to be more assertive with how you approach this exercise, but if you have a horse that needs confidence and is more sensitive, this is the approach I would take: be kind, soft and very sparing with "demanding" a response.
Before I do extensive training under saddle, I always spend several sessions utilizing ground driving. (Note: you will notice I tend to interchange the term ground driving and long lining. For either I am referring to the idea of working from the ground with both both direct and indirect reins from a position slightly behind and following the horse).
This video with Effie is a follow-up to my previous post about preparing Moon for ground driving which covered some of my other pre-requisites for ground driving. In that post I cover the importance of confirming that I have a reliable halt, back, go and change of direction with a halter and lead rope and then moving forward by introducing changes of direction in a bridle on the lunge line.
This video with Effie is the next step where I begin to focus on suppleness and teaching my horse to "march" forward with energy without requiring continual urging from a whip or other aid. Considering my goal is to be able to "drive" my horse from 10+ feet away, I need to first confirm the following:
Sadly, my #1 and #2 overall choices have been eliminated :-( The round 4 voting was not as evenly distributed across the four remaining stallions as I anticipated so preference went to the horses that were very strong in one category leaving the ones who are strong all-around overshadowed. I will definitely be providing a "post mortem" blog about these results, but for now please take time to look over these wonderful stallions' impressive profiles.
These eliminations just keep getting harder and harder. In this match we said goodbye to Lentenor - a full brother to famed Barbaro - and Revolutionary - a third place finisher in the Kentucky Derby with over $1.3 million in winnings!
These two matches are undoubtedly the ones about which I've been the most torn so far, and it showed in the voting results. Both eliminated stallions are veterans (ages 16 and 20), and they both have a LOT to like about them. It just goes to show we're really narrowing down the options now that we've gone from 30 stallions t0 only 8 remaining.
By Kyle Rothfus
This blog is dedicated to providing insight about OTTB re-training, Thoroughbred pedigrees and general equine care. You can also track the progress of horses I have for sale through posts here.