As I write we’re enroute from Texas to Pagosa Springs for the summer, stopping tonight in New Mexico to visit the folks who gave us Vinny. By the way, check out Vinny’s new t-shirt, Texas T that is! Sue Lynn gave it to him “so he’ll always be a little bit Texan” – it even says “Vinny” on it – don’t know if you can see that. I took a photo of him in it at the rest stop we were at for lunch.
We had a great weekend in Beaumont, TX and visited with a lot of Savvy Club members and newcomers to Parelli. I love hearing your transformational stories and thanks for making me cry and then wanting a photo!! Our horses were super – Remmer is always wonderful for me – and Pat’s horses were spectacular when he rode one and had two others connected with him, one on each side. He also had his future star “Revlon” appear before a crowd for the first time, which she handled really well. Other highlights for me were Pat helping his son Caton get through his horse’s cantering issue in front of the crowd, the spotlights with some of Pat’s mastery students on Saturday, the Gold Summit connections on Monday, and the lessons with Pat and with me on Sunday!
Pat helped Barry, a young Texas cowboy who wants to train horses the natural way. He had a lovely, athletic palomino gelding that he has taken to Level 3 and competes on in roping, among other things. Pat helped him to slow down, to have some ‘silence between the notes’ which helps create music rather than just noise. So he started on the ground and then went on to riding, doing less to get more and helping his horse to put more weight on his hindquarters when going into the canter. Super stuff and Barry won all our hearts with the way he touched his horse and talked about him, apologizing for how he used to be… and how he chose Parelli because it was the only program that used Love, Language and Leadership to train horses. He said his wife talked him into applying for the lesson and having that experience and watching the weekend only deepened his belief in and respect for the program.
My lesson was with Lisa, who wanted help with being a better leader and whose Left Brain Introvert (LBI) had trailer loading issues. She would play with trailer all week, but after going somewhere he would not reload and people would end up helping and stuffing him in… which of course brought him back to square one again.
After starting with some leadership techniques, such as having a plan and directing Zone 1 better in the Touch It pattern and moving her horse’s feet before she moved her own, Lisa started looking pretty good! Then we went to the trailer and did some Touch It with Zone 1, 3 and 4. That was interesting and further improved Lisa’s technique. After that is was half circles around the trailer, and finally Yo-Yo’s in and out working on the thresholds: “come out… go in…. come out…. go in”.
I stepped in at a couple of points to help with the timing, but Lisa was doing a great job. Buddy really was afraid, but being LBI it was hard for Lisa to read his fear. I explained that when unconfident, LBIs will go RBI first, and that he wasn’t being stubborn or defiant and that’s why he was still having trouble despite all her practice. He would go in out of obedience, but it really was not his idea and he was not confident. So we allowed him to set the pace and each time he reached a threshold we would bring him out and ask him to try again… and when he crossed it in even the smallest way, we would allow him to stay there for a little bit.
By the end of the session he was ‘in’ the trailer, but he was not yet ‘wanting’ to be in, so we reconvened after the show – a number of people stayed to watch – and things went really quickly then. Buddy was in the trailer within a few minutes and now we worked on thresholds going deeper inside (it was a long trailer!). We finished with Buddy standing confidently way deep inside and then played approach and retreat with the door until he was relaxed about that too.
Here are some of the BIGGIES that the audience ‘got’:
1. It has to be the horse’s idea to cross the threshold, don’t push him over it in any way or you destroy trust and confidence.
2. Making him uncomfortable outside of the trailer only causes a horse to load into the trailer to get away from that rather than having him really want to be in the trailer. That’s why we don’t use that approach. It certainly would not be using Love, Language and Leadership!
2. “The next move is his”. So once he’s at the threshold, we WAIT until he does something – either moves forwards or wants to come out again. And if he stays there too long, we bring him out and simply ask him to reapproach.
3. Never push him forwards once he’s stopped, you can only encourage his thoughts otherwise you are forcing the horse. The bottom line is that the horse has to be able to TRUST that you won’t push him “over the cliff”, that you will allow it to be his decision to go there. When you can do that, your horse will try his heart out for you. He will trust you and feel safe with you, and the effects will be felt in everything else you do with him too. Anyone can force a horse to get in, the real art is in helping him to develop the confidence to load himself. Such fun, I love this stuff.
4. It really, TRULY, is NOT ABOUT THE TRAILER! It’s all about the trust your horse has for you as his leader.
Our next event is in Oregon. I’m looking forward to seeing you there, meeting new horse lovers and seeing who we have for our lessons on Savvy Club Sunday.
Keep it natural,