Following some recent posts I made in a Clinton Anderson related thread, I received the personal message above, and so here is the thread.
Firstly can I make my objective clear. My objective is to help others understand the mechanics or principles behind the ‘games’ or ‘exercises’ that NH trainers like Pat Parelli and Clinton Anderson use. The systems are actually incredibly simple and once a few principles are understood it is a matter of thought and experience as to how to apply them. However, the cynic in me might suggest that by not keeping it as simple as it could be people are tied into more revenue generating cycles….but hey that’s capitalism!
My objective is NOT to suggest any preference or opinion on which is better etc etc. That is entirely personal preference. Indeed I have moved away totally now from this style of NH. I am however grateful for what they have all taught me over recent years, as they have been roads or towns along the horsemanship journey that is my passion. We are all at our individual stages of that journey. My only personal goal is to always keep and open mind and to be a better horseman each day and week than the day before. Every horse I have the opportunity to interact with no matter how small is a privilege, and reminds me how wonderful life is. So please let this be a constructive and educational discussion thread and not a fan war.
Ok so, as example I will show you the equivalent exercises between three systems – La Cense, Parelli and Clinton Anderson. If anyone has questions on any other methods I am happy to discuss them where I have knowledge or can watch and research anyone I am not aware of.
The sources I have used directly for this thread are;
Parelli Levels 1-4, Patterns, and Horse Behaviour and Liberty. All DVD format.
Clinton Anderson Establishing Respect and Control on the Ground Series 1,2 and 3
La Cense Degre (Stage) 1-4
Each of these systems effectively suggests that by dominating a horse you will gain its respect and ultimately trust. This is largely suggested to greater or lesser extents as mimicking the behavior of ‘a dominant or lead mare’ or sometimes the herd stallion. It is based around moving the feet and controlling 5 body parts of the horse. The ground work is designed to then translate to ridden work.
All the exercises scientifically fall under negative reinforcement. The principle is that I will continue to apply escalating pressure (negative) until you do what I want and then I will remove the pressure.
In terms of what you are trying to achieve La Cense makes it quite clear. Every exercise falls into one of 7 categories.
Personal Space. Desensitisation. Back Up. Follow a Feel. Follow a Suggestion. Leading. Liberty
However in reality every single exercise, whether on a line, ridden or at liberty will come down to;
1) Asking the Horse to be Passive (Desensitization)
2) Following or Yielding to a Feel (ie physical contact)
3) Following or Yielding to Suggestion (ie no physical contact, point or cue from any distance)
If you can keep this in mind then suddenly NH is incredibly simple.
Parelli and Clinton Anderson
What I will do here is link the CA exercises with the respective Parelli ‘7 Games’ and hopefully make it clear which if the three categories above they relate to. They are effectively identical, however PP markets them as the 7 games with increasing challenges as the levels increase, wheras CA breaks them down into lots of individual exercises.
Game 1 – Friendly Game
The Friendly Game is a desensitization exercise. It is anything related to being able to touch horses anywhere you wish without a negative reaction. Similarly it is about being able to get them used to alien or scary objects – ropes, whips, plastic bags etc etc. The method is one of approach and retreat. Ie you keep approaching until you see the hint of a reaction and you move away again and repeat. Or you keep the item present at the discomfort threshold until the animal stops moving its feet and you release the pressure by taking the item away.
In CA terms examples are Exercise .1 Desensitising with the rope, Ex. 2 Desensitising with the stick and rope, Ex.10 Run up and Rub, Ex.11 Slap and Tap. Etc.etc.
Game 2 – Porcupine Game
This is Yielding to direct pressure ie Yielding to a Feel. You are applying direct pressure to a body part in one way or another and asking it to move. So asking a horse to move back by pressing your fingers on his chest, or using your leg when riding to yield its hindquarters is all yielding to direct pressure and hence the Porcupine Game as would be neck reining for example.
In CA Terms examples are Exercise 15c Touch and Rub Hindquarters, Ex.15d Touch and Rub Forequarters, Ex.7 Yielding Head and Neck etc etc.
Game 3 - Driving Game
The Driving Game is yielding to indirect or rhythmic pressure ie the beginnings of Yielding to Suggestion. This is ultimately what will form the foundation for NH work at liberty. So the first exercise is usually to ask the horse to yield the hindquarters by waving the stick or pointing/walking at the croup/loin. It also forms the beginning of the send for the circling/lunging type exercises.
In CA terms examples are Exercise 3. Yielding Hindquarters, Ex.5 Yielding Forequarters.
Game 4 – Yo Yo Game
The Yo Yo game is moving the horse forwards and backwards from a distance, and again is Yielding and Following a Suggestion, though pressure to get the reaction initially may mean contact with the stick or the snap of the rope etc. However the goal is to get the horse to move forwards or backwards from changes in your posture or signals. Similarly this also forms the foundation of the leading and mirroring exercises and also begins teaching the horse to ‘draw’ to you for liberty.
Not to be confused with moving the horse back by pressing or using the halter etc. That is Porcupine or Yielding to Direct Pressure.
CA terms examples Exercise 4. Backing Up Method 2 Ex.24 Leading Behind