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.
Welcome to the kickoff of Q's official training for the 2017 RRP Thoroughbred Makeover! For our first discussion, I thought it was appropriate to begin with an up-close view of Q to evaluate her conformation. In upcoming posts I will also cover her movement and personality, but I think it is always important to begin by fairly and thoroughly assessing a horse's conformation. This helps to identify any areas that might require close attention as training develops or help to explain imbalances that present themselves in the early stages of training.
The following videos and photos are intended to give you a close first-person view of Q's conformation. Share your feedback - likes, concerns, etc - in the comments below, and on Friday evening I will be going LIVE on Facebook to share my thoughts and answer questions. I wanted to structure it this way so as not to bias anyone's opinions, and remember that conformation can often be subjective so there are NO WRONG ANSWERS :-)
For instance, what do you notice about her feet, legs, muscling, skeletal angles, coat condition, or anything else that stands out to you? This initial look will serve as our baseline to determine how Q is progressing and developing throughout her training.
Is there another view or photo you would like to see to help with your assessment? Please feel free to request it in the comments, and I'll do my best to get it for you. I want Q's journey to be all about you feeling like you are right here with with us for her training, so the more you engage with the conversation, the more you will benefit.
Introduction and Sneak Peek of Personality
Conformation Walk Around
My search for the right partner for my 2017 Makeover partner lasted much less time than I anticipated. Within 12 hours of sharing my blog post "Tips I Consider When Shopping for an Off Track Thoroughbred" on the OTTB Training Facebook page, she found me. I received multiple messages with horses that matched my search criteria, and I was amazed and honored by all the support because I honestly thought I would be searching for at least a month. Truthfully, I had already looked at a few horses, but I hadn't really committed to kicking off my search full force before yesterday.
One horse stood out from the rest for a few reasons, and this is why I chose her and ended my search so abruptly.
Who is she?
Let's first meet this special mare:
"Quality Hey" is a 2012 filly by Exclusive Quality out of Hey Skip (by Skip Away). She is reported to stand at 16.1 hands and to be very sweet with a good brain. She raced 30 times during her career with 10 races in 2016, and she won her last two starts in July at Delaware Park under the training of Keith Nations.
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.