Texas Event… done!

Dear Friends,

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.

Vinny's Texas T!

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,



Filed under Events, Horsemanship, Teaching, Vinny

26 responses to “Texas Event… done!

  1. Hi Linda, I was not able to stay to watch you play approach and retreat with the trailer door and Buddy, can you explain a little about how you go about that? I am helping a couple of friends with their trailer loading, and we are to the point where the horses will stay in the trailer, but I don’t want to blow it by dealing with the door inappropriately. These are two horses who no one else has been able to get into a trailer in some time, so now that we have gotten this far, I don’t want to blow it!

  2. Deb and Jake

    Hi Linda!

    IF it’s NOT about the trailer, enviroment etc. WHY do we retreat from the trailer etc!…isn’t that making it ALL ABOUT THE TRAILER etc ? ….Shouldn’t it be about US retreating from our horses!!…aren’t WE the pressure most of the time?
    Also, if your RBI horse NEEDS to just WAIT!!…can you still push them through a threshold by MAKING them retreat!!eg. back-up? …you are still making them move their feet!
    Thank you.

    • Lisa Payne

      I just wanted to comment on the question about the “retreat”. Some games you play near the trailer and some games you don’t. It’s that simple. Horses play with each other, sometimes close to the trailer, sometimes not. Since you’re the leader, you get to decide which game you’ll play and where. By going away from the trailer, it allows the horse to relax a bit so he can really focus on and “learn” the current game. If he’s focused entirely on the trailer, he can’t possibly give thought to what you’re trying to ask/teach him. When Buddy learned the “go, turn and face” game, kind of off to the side of the trailer, then we upped the ante to keep him interested and added “tag” to it. He found it stimulating….but, being a LBI, he didn’t want to do it too long. That’s when that trailer became interesting to him. Playing these ground games, mixing them up, adding to them, etc. will make the horse more interested in you and, after awhile, the trailer will be just a little piece of his day and not the focal point. And, I also wanted to say that I have played with Buddy three times this week, since we got home from Beaumont. Wonderful things have happened. First of all, he loads in and out of the trailer very nicely. I have learned to let it be his idea, no matter how long it takes. I now know when he gets that “spacey” look that he is afraid and not being disrespectful. So I WAIT! I am so sorry for all the times I just didn’t know. When he snaps out of it, we just resume. I am having to pull harder each time to help him back OUT of the trailer. That threshold changes fairly quickly for us. We did the yo yo game frontwards and backwards in the trailer this week, with no fear. Also, Linda, I wanted to thank you for pointing out to me to be more specific in asking Buddy where to put his NOSE. After two years of trying (unsuccessfully) to do sideways over a log, I focused on his nose instead of the “General” front area. He stepped over so pretty and never even thought about going forward over the log. I waited and rubbed him between steps. It took about 3 minutes to travel the 14 ft. log. the second time, he sidestepped it all the way down, zip, zip, zip! That was a wonderful suggestion for proper communication! Thanks again for that one.

    • You retreat from the trailer because you ‘get’ that this is the subject by which your horse is testing you.
      Retreating from a threshold is VERY different from pushing them over it. Imagine yourself (as the horse) standing on the edge of a cliff. You would know the difference ;)


      PS – you are not making them back up, you are drawing them away with a steady, assertive and compassionate ‘feel’.

      • Deb and Jake

        Thank you Linda!

        When we reapproach WE WAIT!!…but we also wait for the feeling of being connected and together as well!!…when I can feel Jake’s confidence in ME!!.. I feel it’s not about the trailer etc!!…because his thoughts at the time were with me and not the trailer!..so then I feel it’s about our relationship!
        I love this stuff too!!..Thank you!

  3. Wow, its mind blowing. I’m new back to horses a year ago. (worked as a groom in my teenage years). I now have two, they herd with two others. I’m a real beginner doing Parelli on my own, but have watched the old level’s 1+2 and now have all the new level’s. (I’m not wealthy, :-/ I work 60+ hours a week). I just wanted to say it’s been worth every penny. I’m also in the Savvy club, these blogs are just ace. I have spent a lot of time observing the horses in the field (as you recommend) and its so revealing and I am having soooo much fun even with the one’s who aren’t mine. I haven’t ridden mine for a year do you think that will be a problem? I am attending a Parelli weekend in July, my first. I don’t intend to ride just hope to become better on-line. The bit about spirit is interesting as I never thought about the persistence angle. Thank you Linda. Ps, Vinny looks a real sweetie.

    • Hey Leonore :)
      You’re going to learn more than you can imagine.

      PS And Vinny is a ‘sweetie’ – if you can call a Left Brain Extrovert that! Most certainly, he is fun and friendly and energetic!!

  4. sanne

    “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”

    How to do this if your horse is pretty comfortable not crossing the treshold?
    With my RB-i, i notice the treshold, wait, retreat and then approach and push her a little bit over the treshold. And then retreat again. And then the same thing over and over again, until the treshold is no more there.
    Is that still pushing? How do you get them to want to cross the treshold? As a RB-i, she knows the comfort is not beyond the treshold.

    thanks for sharing all this, Linda!

    • Yes it is still pushing :( Think of it like you were on the edge of a cliff, and your guide pushed you just a little bit past the point you were comfortable standing at… it would be terrifying.
      You have to try to see it from a horse’s perspective, being a prey animal the default is fear – terror, actually. Getting into a metal cave on wheels is something horses have to do all the time, but relatively few have the desire to get in. And that’s the thing to learn, because when they get in with enthusiasm… not because they have to, or else, the relationship goes to an amazing new level.
      So don’t push your horse over the threshold. Simply back him off it and resend, as many times as it takes.
      Remember what Pat says? “I’ve never seen it take longer than two days!” This is the kind of patience you need and if you don’t have it the horse feels it and it affects his ability to trust and have confidence in you. So you’ll always have that little bit of resistance, or lack of expression… a bit of a robot perhaps.
      Here’s what we do: if the horse makes it to the same place, we don’t wait. We ask him to retreat and send again. But the moment so much as a whisker goes over that threshold, we allow the horse to wait and the next move is his. That’s how a horse starts to make it his idea to cross the thresholds.
      What you really have to convince the horse is that you will wait… and that is the HARDEST thing for a predator to do!

      • Sanne

        Is there any difference in approach when it’s not about approaching something scary (like trailer, other obstacles) but leaving the safe place? (like going on a trail)
        I have no trouble with respecting tresholds when it’s about obstacles, because you can see the changes, you can clearly see the nose, neck, maybee the feet ;) you can see the curiousity coming up and you have more ways of making it interesting in an arena

        It’s different when it’s about leaving the safe place, going on a trail.
        There is no room to do anything else then go back and forth and there’s no curious behavior because there is nothing to get curious at.
        What to do do when the horse just stands there? what if you wait for the next move from your horse, but there is no next move.
        How do you decide when and how long to wait at the treshold or when to retreat?

        I had decided to leave the whole trail-thing and work on my level 4 in the arena, but you got me all curious again now ;)
        This blog really is inspirational :)

        thanks Linda!

  5. Cassie Bickley

    Recently at Easter workshops with Kaye Thomas I really understood the meaning of its not about the trailer ! Making sure my leadership is solid for him to trust me & my requests. Going back to games 1,2,3 that was where the problem was… my porcupine game was broken. MMMM Now he is really IN the trailer emotionally/ mentally & physically Yah Thankyou Kaye xx

  6. Pat Marzoline

    That was spot on, Linda. Exactly, what I had to do for Gem. I knew she would load without the truck on, we’ve played around in it and out. My neighbors thought I should of made her get in the trailer. It took awhile but when I slowed down and allowed her to relax and look then proceed she wanted to go in, not because she had to. That is why I want to send you the video of her loading at liberty after standing, all by herself on a pedestal – two legs, it’s too small for all four. I’m not able to upload it to youtube and do have a flash drive to send.

  7. Chancellor

    Very interesting about LBIs becoming RBIs When concerned. I think I knew this but hadn’t paid enough attention. I agree with Kris Hughes, I would love to hear more about that. I have a VERY LBI. My most challenging horse and very interesting to play with. Chancellor

    • LBIs will teach you more about using psychology instead of physical coercion more than any other horsenality! I hope you are studying EVERYTHING we have on LBIs!
      I know that once I ‘got’ this with Remmer, his level of interaction, play and connection with me went through the roof.

  8. belinda Park

    Yes! Could we please see this on a dvd…these are the kind of issues I am having with my horse and to see “in the moment” strategies would be so much help!

  9. DeeDee

    Your blogs are so perfect in their timing, Linda.

    The one about you and Remer and changing from Finnesse seat to free style seat (afew entries ago) allowed me to get thru to a friend that it isn’t the Parelli seat versus the dressage seat – but the freestyle seat versus the Finnesse seat. She totally got it!

    And now I have a friend who has really been diligent about helping her self and her horse with Trailer Loading! This entry will be so perfect because now, three times in a row, she has finally been able to close the butt bar on a Confident partner. She will love this blog entry!

    See you all in Oregon!

    • Right on! That’s great :)

      • Debbie

        Why is it that some of us find the finesse seat easier then the freestyle seat? While others find the freestyle seat easier then the finesse seat? I joked with my husband for years that he is Western while I am English… now I say, your Freestyle and I am Finesse! I can not wait to get to level 4 so I can use my finesse seat!

        I love your blogs Linda, thank you for sharing?

  10. Whitney

    Thanks for sharing Linda.

    Is there any video of you working with Lisa and Buddy? I have a LBI too who’s sometimes a wonderful load and others a complete nightmare. The trailer we use is not mine (we borrow a friends). I’ve decided to start using a simulator, but any help we can get to do it, and do it right is awesome!

  11. Thanks for sharing this, Linda!

    Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could all see these two lessons as a bonus section on upcoming Savvy Club DVDs!


    • I would love to see the whole segment with Buddy on video. I learned soooo much, my head is bursting! I went home and worked with him the very next day and he was an angel! I really feel the main thing that helps is recognizing when he goes RBI, even a little, and responding immediately to that by WAITING until I see that change back to confidence. I also learned that when he gets confident, then gets cocky that I need to change the game up a little. There were just so many things, even though I took notes as soon as I got home, and replayed the event in my mind several times, I feel I could really benefit by seeing the session. My daughter video taped the session but the camera ran out of film before Buddy even got into the trailer the first time. So, even though many fine points are at my disposal to revisit, I still think much of what happened after that point was even more significant. I had so many people speak to me afterward and tell me they learned so much from the experience. I am so glad I came and shared my situation with this leadership issue. It was a highlight of my life and I will always cherish the personal time you took with me, Linda. You are a wonderful teacher! Thanks for your acknowledgement and enthusiasm! Lisa Payne

  12. Max

    I totally understand this Linda but it seems completely at odds with what we saw Pat do with Tippy at the UK celebration in 2009. Help me reconcile the two!

    • How can I see Tippy and Pat’s segment to compare?

    • Ahhhhh, very astute question! Buddy was afraid of the trailer but quite accepting of Lisa’s leadership. Tippy was not afraid of the trailer and didn’t think humans were worthy leaders at all. His ‘baggage’ was firmly about humans as leaders. Luckily his current trainer did not do what the others do. She had the best results so far, but still knew there was a lot missing.

      Pat proved his leadership by staying passively persistent in the proper position and NOT getting firmer and firmer until he forced the horse to comply. That would have been an almighty blow up. Tippy has quite a high spirit, which is hard to see in introverts because it is not reflected as energy. It is shown as persistence, the degree and endurance with which he would not respond or try to try.

      So there weren’t confidence thresholds, there was leadership-respect issues. And you cannot smack respect into a horse. You might get it done, but not with the horse’s dignity in tact.

      The end result was proof positive of Pat taking the time yet still continuing to ask, without getting frustrated, harder, or giving up.

      When it comes to knowing what to do, it’s about reading horses and understanding where the issue really is. And it is not an exact science! You try and adjust and try again… and it’s the tough ones that really test your theory!


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