Lana is three year old Trakehner mare by Stiletto Pg out of Lily Creek My Secret out of Lafayette
Lana is the only of the four babies I did not get to meet and work with during my September visit. She has had less handling than the three year old boys and is also very tall! Looking at these tall and developed “babies” creates good incentive to truly get the horses in a place of acceptance. It is always my goal to over prepare the horses so that it is as uneventful as possible, keeping us both safe while simultaneously sparing me from unnecessarily throwing the saddle up and down and up and down.
Below you can follow my daily documentation of her progress. Although my strategies vary with each horse, my basic sequence and “skeleton” are the same.
Day 1: Introduced myself and my tools and laid the groundwork for the principle games.
For a more in depth description of the Parelli’s seven game click HERE.
Friendly Game (confidence building)
Porcupine Game (yielding to steady pressure)
Driving Game (yielding to rhythmic pressure)
Upon my initial approach I could tell that Lana was more reactive than the others. This could be chalked up to her lack of experience. However, I also feel that her innate character has a lot to do with this. Being Right Brain means that she is naturally more skeptical and insecure. That, coupled with a need to move can easily create reactive and potentially dangerous situations.
Linda Parelli and Patrick Handley created great illustrations to capture the extreme of each horsenality. Below you can see the image for a Right Brain Extrovert.
This is what Lana looked like during our first two sessions.
Please remember that the horsenality chart offers a way to easily identify the four basic types of horses. The goal is to bring ALL horses to the center of the axis; offering them the skills to be balanced mentally, emotionally and physically.
Once I felt that we had reached a good place I took Lana for a walk around the indoor arena. There were many moments where she felt that she had to, what I call “pull the plug”. In this moment the worse thing I could do is trap her by clamping down on my rope, or reprimand her. So, I used my skills to allow the rope to slide, the horse to drift, and slowly teetered her back to me. By the end she was licking and chewing more often and starting to look at me as a trustworthy leader.
Day 2: After realizing that Lana NEEDED to move her feet in order to be in a learning frame of mind I brought out the 22′ right away. It is so important as horsemen to become handy. That way you can adjust and offer the horse what he/she needs. I always tell my students, “you can always shorten it back to 12′, but you cant magically make it grow should you or your horse need more space.”
To learn more about Parelli’s amazing equipment click HERE.
For our warm up in the round pen I review the first three games and put an emphases on the hindquarter yield. For RBEs you want to make sure you have a snappy disengagement. I think about this as an emergency brake should you need to shut down forward motion. I knew there was a good chance that she would feel the need to run away. I wanted to offer her that space to a degree, hence the longer rope, but also have an “off” switch handy to keep her from getting in over her head.
We were able to touch on games 4 & 5 in the indoor and made some great headway! For Lana, the thought of standing still or going backwards seem non existent. She is very impulsive and pushes through pressure. I could tell that I had not won either the driving or porcupine game from zone 1 because if I was more than three feet away she would just blow right through it. I know what we need to zero in on tomorrow!
Day 3: Started with review in the round pen, again focused on the Hindquarter yield and being able to back her up using both steady and rhythmic pressure from zone 1. We were also able to up the anti with our friendly game and by the end I was laying up and over her from both sides. Lana is at least 16h tall so I used a mounting block to build her confidence and mount from each side.
After this it was back to the indoor with the 22′ rope. We revisited games 4 & 5 and today I was even more particular about her giving me responses as opposed to reactions. On the circling game, she would immediately try to pull away if it was more than a walk. This was with me adding zero pressure to her! This just shows me where I need to help her be able to manage her emotions with the speed she so strongly desires.
Because I had built in the “off switch” I was able to build her confidence with this by treating it as a friendly game. Approach the point that causes her to want to pull away (the trot on the circle), then retreat back to her comfort zone (the walk or a full disengagement to a standstill). It took lots of repetition, but, in the end she was standing still with her head lower than her withers licking and chewing and blinking and thinking.
Day 4: To start off, Lana was still very right brain and pushy with her nose/shoulder. Every kind of pressure means go forward or run away to her. Today we started in the arena on the 22’ line. She is the kind of horse that makes you want to tip toe around her. I know that kind of interacting is unhealthy. Neither horse nor human trusting one another and lots of tolerance without true acceptance. I refuse to fall into this trap! So, today I became more obnoxious with my friendly game and even introduced the saddle pad as a way to increase her confidence.
After reviewing our previous sessions we started to put the principles to purpose with Zone 3 driving along the rail. I quickly added in the back up which was a great challenge for Lana. However, she came through beautifully!
After approaching and retreating with speed on the circling game we went back into the round pen and I ended with a series of mounts and dismounts from the block on both sides.
Day 5: Began with review of previous sessions as I remained focused on achieving true yields from each zone with both steady and rhythmic pressure. Remember, consistency teaches! Horses are pattern animals and it generaly takes 4-7 sessions for a concept to really sink in. Especially if you are dealing with a horse that is right brain as a learner. This was day 5 and I was FINALLY feeling like the mind was connecting to the feet and I was getting responses as opposed to reactions.
After a good soak on her success I Introduced the sideways game along the rail of the arena. This was VERY hard for her. Because she can become so braced (right brain) in her mind, her body would freeze without the option to go forward. We kept getting stuck and I knew I couldn’t just keep adding more and more pressure to her without compromising our relationship. So I took a moment and realized that I wasn’t being as clear or rhythmic with my stick. On the third time I used my carrot stick as if it were a windshield wiper, pushing the forequarter then hindquarters, forequarters then hindquarters. This clarity allowed her to find freedom in her feet and we got a couple good steps of sideways each direction.
Once she licked and chewed on the sideways success we went back to the round pen for the mounting. This time, I was able to fork my leg over and do lateral flexion from both sides.
Today was the first day she blew out during a session! One layer of tension down, and more to go tomorrow:)