Advice and help please!
Hey there everyone, I was in a riding accident a few months ago and so I've been off riding (due to medical reasons) and am going to be off for another month and a half still. I've been missing my horse alot lately so I wanted to do something constructive with her, even though I cant ride her, so I started looking into Natural Horsemanship and the Parelli 7 Games caught my attention.
So I began starting them with her but I'm finding it very difficult to keep her attention focused. I've taken to working out on a sandy flooring because if we're out on grass, she just wants to graze the whole time.
We started with the Friendly Game and that went well, she's now accepted anything from saddle pads, whips and crops (both of which she was terrified about in the past) to even blankets being put on her, swung around her. Then we progressed to the Porcupine Game and here we've been hitting problems. For some reason, she understands the concept perfectly if I try back her up by her chest, even the lightest pressure or me patting my leg while standing in front of her will get her to back up, but no matter how much we try, she doesnt seem to apply that concept to her hindquarters or shoulders.
The moment I move away from her head and towards her hindquarters, she completely loses attention and starts to doze. Any suggestions??
Make your "intent" stronger. Use more body language to get the point across. Bend your body and really "look" at what you want to move. You can also get closer and use your hands to start then go back and use your stick.
Is there any way you can get a video? If so, that would help greatly.
From what you have said, it sounds to me like she might be going right brained introverted when you try to move her. I'm not there to read her body language, so that's why a video would be helpful. The reason I think it might be right brained is because horses who won't move their hind end away from you are usually unconfident. This is because moving their hind end away from you would require them to look at you and bring their head toward you, and for the right brained horse, even that little act is A LOT of pressure. So it's not a matter of they WON'T move, it's that they CAN'T move. And when you said she starts to "doze" that's another clue to me that she is going introverted.....possibly catatonic, but I'd need to see her before I say that's what she is doing.
However, you've also described some left brained introverted traits as well. Wanting to graze, being one of them. Also, if her front end is hard to move away, that usually means the horse is left brained dominant, because left brained horses DO NOT want to move their front end! lol. Are you familiar with the Horsenality chart? Have you filled one out on her? If not, go to www.parelli.com and click on Horsenalities.
SO....a couple scenarios might be going on here. 1) she is innately a left brained, confident horse who gets right brained unconfident while learning, 2) she is a right brained introvert who needs you to slow WAAAAAAAY down, or 3) she is simply ignoring you. IMO, #3 is the least likely based on what you've described in her behavior, but because I haven't personally seen her I'm still putting it as a possibility.
Wow, thank you guys for your input. I will try and get a video sometime!! And I'll definitely try what you suggested, G and K's Mom.
Spirithorse, I am vaguely familiar with the Horsenalities but I haven't filled one out for her yet. But, going by what you suggest, I'd definitely put her down as a case 2. My horse was abused before we got her, and I've often noted that she seems "shut out", even from the horsey world. When she first arrived here, she didnt like being part of the herd (our herd is about 20 horses strong), and I'd always find her grazing alone. She got bullied a lot as well in the beginning. But she seems to be settling down a little better lately, finding her place in the herd so to speak - well at least thats what it appears to me when I've observed her in the pasture. She know has a few 'mates' who she will graze with quite contently and is even showing a bit of dominance over the younger horses.
But in her general behaviour, she is a rather timid horse, she's scared of novel stimulus and needs a lot of encouragement. Before I started with the Games, I spent a lot of time trying to get her used to knew things, like walking over a sand pit, walking over a blanket, big noisy things around her...and well it went very slowly in the beginning, she's getting a lot more confident with new things.
So, are you suggesting that I just slow down with her? How should I go about approaching that? Just start from the beginning of the porcupine game for example?
EDIT: I read the Chart, and my horse is predominately a Right Sided Extrovert, very quick, excitable, energetic but still timid and panicky at times. When I first started working with her, I had to retrain her with voice aids as she used to freak out if anyone touched the used or applied any leg pressure. Once she had calmed down with the voice signals, I was able to slowly introduce normal aids again.
Excellent. Glad you went and charted her. There are several stages that a horse can go through emotionally....going from extreme fear to extreme dominance, we have catatonic, right brained introvert and extrovert, unconfident, confident, dominant, anger, rage. My warmblood, for example, was in the Anger stage when I got him a little over a year ago. He hated people. But that's another story! lol.
So, for your little horse, if she's a RBE (right brained extrovert) her behavior is fear based...self preservation. So it sounds like a lot of the time she isn't full blown RB, she's just unconfident. This is actually a good thing because it's easier to handle. So yes, when she is unconfident SLOW DOWN and take a lot of time. Watch for her to brace up and when she does RETREAT. If you put pressure on a RB horse they will blow up.
Now, if she goes fully RB you need to match her energy, then add some and interrupt her pattern by doing tons of changes of direction, going sideways, backing up, transitions, SOMETHING to interrupt her RB pattern. DO NOT let her go forward forward forward, that will only add fuel to the fire. Why do you think a lot of Arabs and TBs can just go and go and go and go and go on a lunge line for up to an hour and STILL be fired up when the rider gets on? I've seen that happen...not pretty.
So.....if she goes fully RB she needs you to interrupt her pattern. They key here is to not let her go there....you need to have zero tolerance for RB behavior, you need to act ASAP if she goes there. A horse can not learn when they are RB. To create rapport you need to match and mirror her and then pacing and leading. You can not converse with this horse until you no longer see RB (get them to think they're teaching you to be quiet). She needs to be worked in a safe and familiar environment b/c this kind of horse has LOTS of thresholds. You need to be focused, perceptive, athletic, unpredictable (to interrupt pattern), quick, proactive, responsive instantly to her actions.
Now, if she is just unconfident then she needs you to retreat, turn away, look away, back away, change what you're asking, go to another obstacle/task. The key with this horse is consistency. To build rapport you need to match and mirror, back off, take it slow, act like you're unconfident too. To converse with this horse you attract their curiosity by going behind them (Zone 5), doing the opposite of what they expect, never block Zone 1! and always know the horse can do no wrong. This horse also needs safe and familiar environments. You need to be predictable, consistent and calm.
Since we have the picture of a RB horse in our minds, lets break down what their bodies do when they are RB. First, the reason the horse goes RB is because he doesn't feel safe. Lets break it down into categories.
Speed: quick and fast...everything a RB horse does is quick! unless it's a RBI. Head: carried high.
Eyes: wide, staring, sleepy (RB catatonic).
Ears: back (quick), strained, taut, twitching.
Neck: tense, braced underneck
Body: rigid/tense, sweat in unusual places (top of HQs, high on shoulder, behind ears), ribs toward you.
Feet: move quickly, extreme=frozen to the spot, pawing fast.
Tail: clamped, swishing very fast, high, "j-shape"
Mouth: tight lips, dry/frothy, displaced-popping, bite when your back is turned
Their tendency is to escape and get away. They are very afraid of change. Change can be a change in environment, equipment, you walking on the other side, change of direction, change of rein, etc.
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