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Doe 06-25-2011 12:54 PM

The Simple Foundations Behind EVERY NH Method (including matching CA and PP)
Dear Doe,

I would be quite interested in a thread that compares the various marketers and/or methods using specific tasks. I am not knowledgeable enough to field such questions, it seems that you may be well enough versed in more than one to do so.

I am familiar with the PNH squeeze game. What would the equivalent be in the CA program, or another's?

Thanks, it would be refreshing to explore one thing in detail at a time, rather than just wide overview opinions on the general programs.

Please feel free to copy and paste this in your thread starter, or if you don't mind my naming you in a post, let me know and I will post it.


Doe 06-25-2011 12:55 PM

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

Doe 06-25-2011 12:55 PM

Game 5 – Circling Game
This is lunging in one form or another. Initially it will be up close and asking the horse to move in a small circle and bend. However it will then move onto a larger circle and involve less input from the handler. The idea is that the horse learns to keep a constant gait until you give a cue to do something else. This is therefore Yielding and Following Suggestion again and will eventually work towards liberty. IT also forms the basis of later exercises such as the figure 8’s. It is supposed to develop independence and constant impulsion in the horse.
In CA terms examples are Exercise 6 Lunging for Respect, Ex 18.a +b Circle Driving

Game 6 – Sideways Game
The beginnings of lateral work. This is Yielding both hind and forequarters via Suggestion one after the other until the horse does them as one. Initially this will be done away from you, but at a higher level will be towards you, so becomes Following a Suggestion. Along with yielding via direct pressure this will form the basis of lateral work under saddle, such as shoulder –in or sidepassing.
CA terms Exercise 23. Sidepassing.

Game 7 – Squeeze Game
The squeeze game is asking a horse to pass between you and a barrier, then yield his hindquarters to face you. This is again Yielding and Following Suggestion. It is used a lot to desensitize, to dominate by controlling the feet and to get horses around or over trail obstacles.
CA terms Exercise 8. Sending Exercise.


Hopefully this will help you to see that all the games or exercise fall under 1 of only 3 principles. CA and PP perform the same mechanics they simply present them differently. Parelli refers to everything as one of 7 games and then extends them via challenges in increasing levels. This has in the past caused a lot of students to ‘stall’ not knowing where to go next sometimes, and to stick with repetition of the same things. Clinton breaks everything down into exercises that lead you by the hand one after the other. However this can cause a lack of understanding of how to use these methods independently to solve issues.

Ultimately no matter what you see any of these trainers doing with any horse, they are using 1 of the 3 principles I have outlined above. Once you understand that then you can quickly learn to use the method in a problem solving way as they try to do. So for example with trailer loading they will often use the Sending Exercise or Squeeze Game to get a horse to walk backwards and forwards by the trailer, or across and over the ramp from side to side. If you cannot catch a horse then they will suggest Yielding to Suggestion or Direct Pressure and then giving the horse chance to Follow Suggestion (ie draw to you). They do this by creeping up on the horse and tapping it on the rump if it ignores you, or driving it away and following until it gives an indication that its directing its thoughts towards you and then they will release the pressure and ask the horse to follow them by stopping or gentling moving away. (in this basis no different from join up with Monty)

I hope this has helped in some way. If anyone has any questions about any specific exercise or something they’ve seen these guys do I am happy to comment. For example if anyone has clips on You Tube of these guys that they are struggling to link to a game or principle then post a link and I will endevour to explain. Hopefully this will lead to constructive discussion.

Take care all.

PaintedFury 06-25-2011 01:24 PM

This is possibly one of the best explanations I have ever heard comparing two of the foremost clinicians! Thank you so much Doe!

Doe 06-26-2011 06:39 AM

Thank you Paintedfury that's very kind. I wrote it in one block so a bit rushed. I just hope it's still relatively clear.

Beling 06-26-2011 02:20 PM

That's excellent! I have a question, though.

I feel the first principle (1) Asking the Horse to be Passive (Desensitization) is a little more than that-- somewhere along the line, it begins to build the trust. I realize if you completely dominate a horse, he will blindly follow; I think there's also a trust that can be built, not based on dominance, but more of a partnership. . .? My trainer, who IS NH, but not affiliated with a brand name, is right in line with your post. But he doesn't ASK a horse to be passive, so much as tries to explain to him that everthing is "okay."

(And now I'm going to print out your posts.)

Doe 06-26-2011 03:26 PM

Thank you for your feedback Beling.
Yes I totally agree. De-sensitisation to foreign objects done in the NH way does indeed build trust. However it also risks desensitising the horse to cues if done too much.
In simplifying to just 3 elements I couldn't think of what to call the first category. Ultimately the purpose is to teach the horse to trust and not to react to certain things. However if done properly it's also to help teach a horse the difference in your body language between when you are asking for action and asking for relaxation which Is why I decided to label it as passive.
The fact is in all 3 categories there are many possibilities and reasons. my point was simply that ANY exercise you see done in NH style is always 1 of those three things. If you can recognise which then it becomes demystified to some extent.
Many people talk of this trainers methods and that trainers methods, as though they are different or this trainer miraculously knows something more than the other. In reality they don't, they are all doing the same things. I hope that in helping people clarify this or understand it then they can make better choices for themselves and their horses, and learn to become more independent horse people and perhaps also feel less pressured to spend big bucks on halters and lines and memberships when others would do the job just as well.
Thank you again for your feedback.

Northern 06-28-2011 01:53 PM

Doe, thanks for this helpful comparison of 3 NH orgs, & I find that your 3 strategies are, in fact, what these people use.

The addition of Partnership/Trust/"Want-to" was also my thought, & this, ime, is the difference between the teachers:

Parelli emphasizes, "Anyone can make his horse do something, but can you cause your horse to want to?", "Your horse doesn't care how much you know till he knows how much you care.", "Can you be interesting/provocative to your horse?" etc.

Anderson, on the other hand, makes no such statements that I can recall (if my memory isn't serving me, I'd love some quotes from him!) & I was a "No Worries Club" member for a year. Anderson says, "Get the job done!" This is not to start a fan war, but to point out this all-important difference between any two riders who do have a difference.

La Cense I'm unfamiliar with, so can't comment.

The horse is only happy with a real horseman, who by definition has gone beyond making the horse do tasks, to being a fun & capable leader for his horse.

Northern 06-28-2011 02:18 PM

Doe, since I discovered that you're familiar with Klaus Hempfling, would you place him within this NH group?

anndankev 06-28-2011 11:36 PM

Dear Doe,

Thanks for this , it is well thought out and written and I followed it very well.
I Really feel this is a great answer to all the threads asking what is NH and would like to nominate it for a sticky or whatever they call the ones that stay at the top of the list.


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