Parelli Horsenalities - Page 5 - The Horse Forum
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post #41 of 87 Old 11-29-2012, 04:17 PM
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Cathy is the best traditional horse trainer I've ever known, she's adamant that each horse must be trained individually, and that some techniques should never be used with some horses, while being very effective with other horses. She has 45+ years of experience in training literally thousands of horses for high levels of competition, so she learned mostly through trial and error what techniques to use on which type of horse. She also admits that there are certain types of horse that she refuses to train, not because she can't train them, but rather because she doesn't enjoy their "horsenality" or whatever you want to call it, and her lack of enjoyment brings a negativity to the lessons that she feels damages the horse's ability to progress in its learning.

The concept of horsenality is the one aspect of Parelli I appreciate most, because it gives me a way to classify a horse rather quickly, similar to the way Cathy does, even though I don't have experience with thousands of horses to draw on. In the Parelli program each horsenality type has training guidelines to help the rider or trainer to use the best possible techniques for each horse. It also helps in choosing a horse that will be most compatible with a specific rider.

While most horses fit pretty well into one "horsenality type" all horses change horsenality behaviors occasionally based on the situation. Being able to label these reactions and behavior problems makes it easier to categorize the training techniques at your disposal to be more effective in the moment.

The idea of training each horse as an individual is not new, all of the best trainers I have met have expressed those sentiments, but few trainers have tried to capsulize the the concept to be accessible to the relatively inexperienced horseman, like Parelli has. I have several of Hempfling's books, I find his teaching principals to be very harmonious with Parelli training, but I found his descriptions of types of horses difficult to understand, until I read it as a companion to the horsenality chart. The simplicity of the horsenality chart has really helped me to tailor my lessons and techniques to each of my horses and each situation.
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post #42 of 87 Old 11-30-2012, 06:04 AM
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Originally Posted by Pegasus1 View Post
Why would you believe that horses are less complicated than other animals ? Even humans. They just perceive the world and react to it in a very alien way to us. Their brain is also organised to be optimised for one time learning which ours isn't. I would agree that they don't have the complex problem solving abilities of humans but in their own way they are just as capable, you just have to remove the human biased view of what constitutes a powerful complex brain to understand this.
I cannot even begin to really understand what it feels like to be a horse as my brain is wired up in a totally different way, my eyes work in a different way and my hearing has a different sensitivity and range. But I would like to try.
In a way that is what makes us Natural Horsemen. We try to see things from the horses point of view, and try to adapt our behaviour to make communication with them easier.
The more I read about current research into how animals behave and think the more complicated I realise they are. I am currently reading Animal Learning and Cognition by John M Pearce Animal Learning and Cognition, 3rd Edition: An Introduction: John M. Pearce: Books. This is a very academic book and I would only recommend it to real enthusiasts but for me it is proving fascinating. I'm afraid it does include details on animal behavioural experiments that were done in the past, and some may find distasteful. But the truth is those experiments were done and it would be a waste of the animals suffering if those results were not now used to increase our current understanding of animal behaviour and improve welfare standards today. They were done in a different age when animal welfare was not the issue it rightly is today. Pavlovs dogs, for example, had surgically implanted tube to collect and measure saliva.
For a more equine oriented book then Equitation Science Equitation Science: Paul D. McGreevy, Andrew N. McLean: Books would be a good starting point.
I never said I think horses are less complicated then others. As a matter of fact, I acknowledge and appreciate the fact that they are VERY intelligent animals and are all different in their own ways. From my opinion of the "horsenalities" descriptions, the majority are in regards to fear responses. I don't think that when horses are truly afraid, they rationalize their fear the same way we might. While some horses might be "flightier" and others may be more "brave" about scary objects, I think that basic survival needs are all the same...across the board. Even for human beings. I'm not sure if I'm making any sense here. I'm not trying to argue, or turn your thread away from your original intention. I may not agree, but I definitely don't mean or intend to be dramatic or disrespectful! As far as having a human bias, I think we all do to some point. Some more so then others. But to be honest, no human would ever be successful with a creature who speaks a totally different language, unless they put themselves in their shoes and tried to think as they do. So yes, I do try to think as a horse. But also after observing them, I would have to say that the "horsenalities" are more for the human to dissect and classify their horse. I truly cannot put my mare in just ONE of those categories. If I had, I would've limited our communication and success together.
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post #43 of 87 Old 11-30-2012, 06:06 AM Thread Starter
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Ok. Glad I got a debate going . One mistake I made in the original post is that I linked to the purely hegative attributes chart. This is a better link which has both the positive and negative attributes chart. Too many people concentrate on what their horse can't do, and I agree with the poster who said lots of folks use it as an excuse for not even trying to do particular things with their horses. That is an abuse of the horsenality system. It is not to explain what can't be done, just to point out areas where your horse, with its' current horsenality will struggle. This gives the horseman a chance to empathise with the horse and work gently with the problem area to overcome it, not ignore it all together. Also, if the horseman knows there is likely to be a problem with a particular area of training it stops them going predatorial and forcing the horse through its' thresholds just to achieve a task, whilst doing huge damage to the rapport.
An example of this might be playing with a Left Brain Introvert. They hate to move their feet, and so to get them to maintain gait without continuous nagging is a challenge. They are easy to spot on your yard as they are ridden by people who are continuously using their legs to maintain gait, making weird noises to their horses to help the leg and the horse has a sour look on its' face.They need a reason to move and a known duration of activity to really engage in it.
Point to Point is a good pattern for them. When following the rail around an arena take a rest in each corner. This gives them a known destination which they then make an effort to get to. With our LBI it worked wonders with transitions. The merest suggestion of asking for canter and he would. He knew the quicker he got to the next corner, the quicker he got to rest. And he maintained gait right up to the fence. Once the game is established then miss out a corner, so he has to go two sides of the arena to get rest. All the time he is learning the responsibility to maintain gait. After a week or two we were cantering 5 to 10 minutes on each rein without stopping. Prior to this, in fact prior to Parelli, he would buck into every canter, his way of saying "I don't see the point in this, I don't want to go".
And as for the comment "I don't want to play with my horse", that's a shame. It's a phrase we use to help us not become direct line thinkers with the horse. By thinking about playing it keeps your attitude and body language light and, well, playful. I find that in this frame of mind, when I hit a problem I am more likely to use lateral thinking and puzzle a way through it, like you would in a game, rather than getting frustrated and blasting a direct line through it which rarely works.
To answer AceIsHigh post on the 7 games. I strongly suggest that you read my post on the thread. You'll find a proper explanation of the 7 games there rather than the rather biased and negative view you currently have of them.
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post #44 of 87 Old 11-30-2012, 06:22 AM
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Even with that chart I'd say my mare has a few personalities out of all them! But heck, she's always been kind of an odd ball :) You know, I 100% agree with you on people making excuses not to do things with their horses because they think their horses "can't" or "won't" do it. Something I've learned, if you don't find your horses weak points, you"ll NEVER be able to help turn them into their strengths. Like us, if we avoid our weaknesses, how will we ever overcome them and become a stronger person? I know, you wanted a debate...sorry, I'll stop agreeing with you now!! lol
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post #45 of 87 Old 11-30-2012, 07:17 AM Thread Starter
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I totally agree that horses should not be shoe horned into a particular horsenality for life. That has been one of the faults of the Parelli program that I agree with most of you on. If you look closely at what they say I don't think it is a fault of the educational material as such, they say repeatedly that you must play with the horse that turns up on the day, hour, minute, second.
The value of the idea is to allow inexperienced folks to asses what sort of horse is in front of them this second and react accordingly. Without the knowledge that, superficially, an LBI can look a lot like and RBI it would be extememly easy to get into serious trouble. An LBI stands there looking calm and collected with a "you and whose army is going to make me" expression which is unlikely to do much if you push them but get firmer in their resolve not to move. An RBI looks calm, quiet as well. The difference is that they are unconfident to downright scared, but have withdrawn into a "happy place" inside their minds where they don't even notice that you are pressuring them to do something. Right up until the point they can hold it in no longer and explode. How many stories have we heard of the quiet calm horse who "for no reason, bucked me off, kicked me on the way down and ran for the hills". There was a reason, they could take no more pressure and like a pressure cooker that is too hot suddenly exploded.
There is merit in knowing what the inherent horsenality of the horse is as well, again especially for the inexperienced horseman. Even though your horse could be all over the chart depending on circumstance, if the horsemen is not sure where to start there is a good chance that the inherent horsenality and associated ideas, attitudes and techniques will not actually do too much harm. Thus the horseman can, in reasonable safety continue to work with the horse and gain the experience needed to assess the horse on a second by second basis. Something I suspect the "anti" folks on this thread already do subconsciously and so cannot understand why for inexperienced people this can be a useful tool. It's (over)simplification is one of its' strengths for people who are just learning about horses. It will try to keep them safe(r) whilst they learn there is much more to learn !

RBI = Right Brain Introvert
LBI = Left Brain Introvert
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post #46 of 87 Old 11-30-2012, 09:42 AM
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I've never read Parelli and have only seen a few clips of video. I've got one book by CA. I read it 4 years ago and haven't re-read it. My wife bought a mare that had never been ridden and we hired a trainer to break her. I later rode the little mare out, and then the same trainer worked with the mare & my daughter for riding lessons.

Our Appy gelding was spurred viciously at a ranch he was loaned to just before we got him.

He was very erratic to ride, and we eventually let him stand around for 8 months. Then we again hired the same trainer, and he spent 5 weeks at her place. He came back a bit timid, but ready to ride. Again, I rode him out first until my daughter was ready to take lessons on him. He is now an excellent horse - willing to move out if asked, willing to loaf if not asked, and always determined to stay between his rider and the ground. He is easily our best horse.

Mia & I have been at it for 4 years. I couldn't count the spooks and bolts we did. Eventually, she was so spooky I stopped riding her, for 8 months as it turned out, until I felt my riding had improved. I then hired the same trainer, who was very worried about Mia for the first 4 sessions. On the 5th, she concluded Mia had never been broken at all, which gave a way ahead. She came over 4 times/week for 3 months, and twice/week for 3 more.

Sorry for the history, but it is needed to understand why I'm going to say what follows:

One of the things that really bothers me about the NH video trainers I've seen is that it makes people think they can train a horse when they don't have enough experience at reading a horse. I now have watched a trainer working a horse for countless sessions, and have had her supervise me doing round penning and have ridden out several horses. If someone asked me to do even elementary horse training, I'd tell them to go get someone who knows what they are doing.

As I watched someone who has lived her entire life with horses work on desensitizing Trooper and later Mia, I realized that doing it successfully depends very heavily on reading the horse's mind and emotions and pushing enough but not too far, and knowing when it is time to back off. And I mean time as in 1-2 seconds of accuracy.

After 4.5 years being around horses every day, I wouldn't feel confident doing that with a horse. Get the timing off by just a little, or misread the horse's emotions, and you can take 10 steps back in 2 minutes.

From a 'horsenalities' perspective, if you really need a chart to see it, then you probably aren't ready to train a horse. Not without supervision. At least, not a 'problem horse'. Once someone has enough experience to train a non-problem horse, then maybe the stuff Parelli (or Lyons, or Anderson) teaches may help a new trainer make progress. I can easily see any of these programs as a 'teach the teacher' type system. The trainer who has done so much for my horses (and daughter) was taught under Lyons program, although she has continued to study with others to broaden her outlook. But she went to Lyons having grown up with horses and competed in barrel racing. She had 20+ years around horses before trying to learn a systematic approach to training them.

I object to the marketing which tells people you can learn to train a horse even if you are brand new to horses. You can certainly ride them out, and give them experience at what they have been taught, but there is a big difference between that and actually training a horse - particularly one with bad habits or bad training.

Give me another year or two, and I might be at the point where I could read a horse well enough to START using Lyons or Parelli or Anderson to learn about training a horse. My guess about why people get 'stuck' using Parelli or other video trainers is that they just can't read a horse well enough to have any real chance of success in training one. And a personality chart won't solve that!

"Make the right thing easy and the wrong thing...well, ignore it mostly."
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post #47 of 87 Old 11-30-2012, 09:42 AM
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I think you might be right when you say that most of the 'antis' are people who arent new to horses. I'm fortunate to have been into a horsey family of many generations and surrounded by extended family and friends who were the same.
I think that anything that helps people to really progess with their horses cant be a bad thing wherever it comes from but some of it just seems to be about avoidance - too much play maybe?
I am in the 'older peoples club' so I guess I do take a lot for granted about the way I handle my horses. For me its about getting on with the job, when a horse reacts in a certain way I dont stand around psychoanalysing it I just deal with it as it comes because its not usually something I havent seen before. When I get a new horse and dont know enough about it I could spend hours trying to imagine all sorts of scenarios to explain behaviours but I'd only be guessing and thats not going to get a problem solved.
We cant understand our fellow humans or our own irrational fears so what chance do we have of understanding a horse?
A lot of the time you have to think on your feet. Same with riding I cant get on a horse and be thinking 'well what will I do if it does ........' so that I'm prepared That would make me tense and horses pick up on tension really fast. What happens is that automatic reaction kicks in and the more you ride the faster you get at doing that. Most of the time I dont even think about it.
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post #48 of 87 Old 11-30-2012, 10:27 AM
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BSMS....I do agree with all of the trainers marketing to inexperienced people maybe making them think they can be trainers. Just like anything in life, some people get training horses and some do not. It doesn't make them less of a person, just not good at training horses....which, in turn, can be extremely dangerous...especially with a problem horse who someone got for free and had no clue what they were getting into. Some people are good at dancing, some are not....some people are good at music, some are not and so on.....

So, this was where I was left when I got my first horse. I was given a horse for my daughter, who at the time was leasing a horse and taking lessons on the weekends. I had never been around horses, except for one guided trail ride in high school, many years ago. I went to look at this free horse with my trainer and barn owner. Yes, looking back now, lots of red flags when I went to look at this horse. But, I honestly did not know any better and left it in the hands of the two people I had with me who were 'horse people' their whole lives. After 3 hours of trying to get this mare in the trailer, we took her to our barn. She wouldn't eat for a week and had to have appetite stimulant shots. She was a nervous wreck, wouldn't stand still, walked all over you, squealed and kicked out at everything. Never mind trying to get a bit in her mouth or a saddle on her back. My daughter cried after two days and hated her. My trainer had to have stiches in her head after the first lunge lesson. As news spread around, we learned more about this horse. She was never saddle broke at 16 years old. Owner told that she never would be because her bloodline was known for being crazy. Anyone trying to ride her got hurt.

So, here I am.....daughter hates her, trainer won't help me and barn owner says I need to sell her before someone gets killed. I didn't want to give up on her. I feel she needed some time and everyone just needed to calm down and stop expecting so much. I had no choice but to open a book and research online.

Was this very risky? Absolutely. Did it work out for me? Absolutely.

I will say.....and I don't want to say this wrong......but I get it. I get reading horses and the communication. Parelli, or any other trainer, didn't give it to me from a book, just helped what I already had inside and fine tuned it. Am I perfect and a know it all? No way....but I have the understanding and personality where it all worked for the basics to where this horse learned to trust and chill out to where I could call her my first horse that I actually learned to ride on.

Would I ever recommend this to just anyone? No. I've had friends who were first time horse owners since then. I tried to explain and show them certain things and it never went anywhere...they didn't get it. There also was a friend I have that 'did' get it. Her and I have similar relaxed, patient and observant personalities maybe?

Can I train a horse beyond the basics of riding? No way. Am I a magical person? No way. But I had enough to change a very potentially dangerous situation into a wonderful relationship. Was this due to a NH trainer specifically? No. If I was a person who maybe didn't comprehend the whole picture from the beginning, it may never have worked no matter how many trainers I watched or books I read.

I hope this makes sense. I always say I'm not a good teacher because I can't explain things clearly.

So, horsenality charts, or anything else isn't magic. It was simply a guideline to follow, which changed during training, or even with one specific situation. But it made me aware that these horse traits existed. I am a literal person and can't say that if it was given to me in black and white that I would have noticed all this at first by just watching a horse. It was a starting point and, like I said, a simple guideline. For experienced horse people, you already have that knowledge so it seems mindless.
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post #49 of 87 Old 11-30-2012, 10:58 AM
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According to the "negative attribute" chart my filly is heavily right brained [I agree with this - she is highly reactive] and leans towards the introvert but she fits in both introvert AND extrovert. More towards the introvert though in that she seems so calm and quiet and then explodes over "nothing" and everything.

Gelding is heavily left brain. He is SO smart! Holds grudges, gets jealous like you wouldn't believe, can be hard to motivate. He routinely flicks between LBI and LBE and it's a pain in the butt because I never know whether to expect lazy or forward.

Mum's pony is left brain too. On the line, I think. She is just forward enough but not too forward, very smart, tends to be a bit pushy/dominant.

I tend to work best with LBI's because I am very dominant and high-energy so I have enough energy for both of us. I would say that probably the most difficult "type" for me to work with would be RBI's because I do push harder if I'm not getting what I want and I do tend to push a little too far when they're the sort of horse that goes into their "happy place". RBE's are also challenging but at least with them I know to always tone down my energy and I'm not tempted to push harder!

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post #50 of 87 Old 11-30-2012, 11:30 AM
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Oldhorselady What you are saying actually makes a lot of sense though it might not be obvious to some people. What it almost comes down to is 'You either have it or you dont'
Some people could read all the books, watch all the videos and get all the right hands on training and they would never 'have it' while others with no real help at all will take on an animal they have no real experience with and somehow make a success of it
I'm not sure how much of it is plain common sense and how much is the natural ability to read animals and see things in them that you will also see in children or dogs
Too many people think that a problem horse can be cured with aggression and too many people think it can be done with unlimited treats and a lot totally underestimate the horses ability to 'play you'
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