courage and determination


billy has started to get extremely emotional when i ask for the canter on the circle.  he used to just not offer it, now he’ll pick it up but quickly goes RBE and tries to run away.  a few times he’s ripped the rope right out of my hands and RACED away, tail flagging.

this new part of our journey kept me awake last night.  as i mulled it over, i started to break it down for myself and billy.  we have been playing with him picking up the canter and i’ve had to get REALLY interesting to achieve that.  then i started to wonder if he has always been emotional about the canter and that’s why he wouldn’t pick it up before.  once his feet start to move he seems to get more and more worried until he is galloping madly about with me standing in the power stance in the middle trying to hang on.

i think to help him with this i’m going to have to ask for the canter, then ask for the gallop and just keep him there, in a fenced in, safe area where he can’t get away.  i think i’m going to have to ask him to go closer and stay longer in that uncomfortable place.  it’s uncomfortable for me too so this should be interesting.  i hate to see him scared or worried, but i won’t be able to ride that canter/gallop unless i help him (and at the same time help myself) become more confident about moving his feet more.

i’m surprised at this turn of events because he can trot all day long.  when he got scared he used to disengage and come right to me, but the last week or so he has started to turn all the way away from me and just take off.  how interesting!

i was awake trying to think back, to see if i could remember anything that happened in our sessions that caused him to feel so stressed.  i can’t remember anything.  so i will just tackle this new problem head on and see what we can accomplish.

parelli gives us so many wonderful techniques, ideas, support and knowledge that if we can break it down in our heads, we can solve the problem.  all we need is time and courage and lot of determination and we can make a breakthrough.

billy and i have worked through many issues as they have popped up.  i have faith that we can work through this one as well.

but it will take courage (on both our parts) and determination.


  1. Hmmm a bump in the road! You are positive it is RBE behavior and not LBE?
    If you have a roundpen, that is a great place to practice canter!!!
    My thought is: how can you make canter the happy place? I struggle with that for Estella, too. I don’t stress it much because she is young and I don’t want to work her too much, but it has been something I have been thinking about. Maybe she is just being more LBI instead of RBE about it. But, the other day I disengaged as soon as she cantered. After doing that a few times, her canter (once I let her continue) was the MOST relaxed and rhythmic it has ever been! I was thrilled! I am sure you and Billy will figure it out soon enough :).

    1. i too was wondering if it was more LB or RB the other day. but his body language was so tight, unconfident, upside down (that U shape they get into with the head and neck up and the tail up) when he left that i think it was more RB. he definitely shows signs of LB when we circle too, as in squealing and bucking, leaping about madly, striking and kicking out, trying to chase his goats, etc. what may have happened the other day is that what started out as a LB temper tantrum turned into a RB running for his life because he got scared when he got away! LOL

      i’ve tried the disengaging when he gets it right, but he just learns to canter two or three strides then disengage and come in. when i say, thank you but no thank you, he gets all tight and upset. i’ve tried spanking the ground when he breaks gait but again he is becoming more and more anxious when he is out on the circle. now when i send him up into the canter he instantly tightens up and gets faster and faster and faster until he is leaning on the rope and trying to run away. hmmmm.

      i WISH i had a round pen. i don’t. the area i play in is about a 3 acre fenced in yard around my house 🙂 so if he gets away he can run pretty far. in the post above he got away and then ran out the gate into the 10 acres he has for grazing. so now when i play i just shut all those gates (there are two different 10 acres pastures for grazing). it’s helped the last two days and yesterday i just encouraged him to canter and canter. when he got tight and fast, crazy galloping, i just moved my feet more, matched his energy and said, “YES! let’s race around like crazy people!” then he finally lowered his head and started to blow out, clearing his nose and sneezing, sneezing, sneezing. as soon as he lowered his head and rounded his back i called him in. we only did this yesterday so i’ll see what i have today!

      everything about this journey is so INTERESTING isn’t it!? i have to be honest. i’m grateful that i only have billy. sometimes he is overwhelming enough and he certainly keeps me busy! i think i would be useless for all my other chores and tasks if i had more horses to play to with 😉 LOL

      please keep sharing what you are doing with estella as all your ideas really help me. i’m often popping over to your blog to see what you girls are up to 😉

  2. Estella used to do the same thing. I had the WORST time telling if it was RB or LB. I determined most of it to be LB, but I also realized she got REALLY unconfident when cantered in a small circle. When I put her on the 45, she is much more comfortable cantering. But, she can also go super LB and blast around and forget that I am attached 45′ later… 😉 What I did was play play play on the 22′ to where she was mentally engaged but not overly physically engaged (when she stops pawing at things, I know she has moved her feet enough). Then I would put her on the 45′ and play “come here so I can tag you”. Where you start out on a big circle, if she doesn’t canter pull her in to almost tag range, then let her drift out again. That worked SO well when she was doing that crazy take off shit-head kinda stuff ;).
    I think what you did mention sounds more RB, and it is a bit of a bummer that you don’t have a smaller area to contain it.
    Since the disengaging and tagging the ground three times isn’t working very well, what about changing direction? Estella LOVES that game! When I go to change direction and she canters and I allow her to she feels so super smart ;).
    Haha the thought of more than one horse is way too overwhelming. Especially when I should be studying right now ;).

    1. thank you for this! i will toss this one in as well! today’s canter went much much better. he was blowing out and lowering his head after only one lap and never really hit the gallop. but it was cold and miserable this morning so maybe he wore himself out keeping warm 😉

  3. Hi Mindy!

    We have been working with Apollo with the same tendencies. But he sometimes just explodes out of a trot and rips the rope and bolts. He is RBE by nature, but this is something I have been continuing to try and help him with. What we are doing that seems to be working was suggested to me by one of my PPs. Whatever gait (also whatever eye, because on Apollo it’s definitely more emotional on one side) he begins to become emotional in, we were suggested to drive him up into that gait, and then begin counting strides (again!). Say it’s canter, play a driving game up into trot, then ask for the canter and after just one stride, breathe out and relaaaaaaax and rub him. Then when he breathes and licks and chews and sighs and does whatever he does to show he has understood, drive up to the gait again, then ask for two strides…then breathe out…life down…and relaaaaaaax and rub him. When you find the number of strides that you can tell is the amount that makes him emotional, be repetitive about this exercise in that number of strides until he understands relaxation at that amount…then up the number of strides again. It’s not the same as disengaging either, you ask him up, then ask him down, just with your breath and body language just as you would in riding.

    Anyway, I read this and it sounded so much like what we are dealing with with Apollo that I thought I should shoot another savvy arrow over to your field and you can pick it up and use it if you feel you want to! Apollo has taught me so much about emotionality at higher gaits, that my hands should be calloused from all the learn burns I’ve receive at the end of his rope! 🙂

    Can’t wait to hear about how you help Billy through this!

    1. thank you thank you thank you jenn! i appreciate every single arrow that people share with me. i think i will make a video with all these wonderful suggestions in action to see how he handles it all! i like the idea of changing the game over for him. he is getting REALLY good at the disengagement and coming in. but will use it against me if he can 😉 the cheeky LB! LOL

  4. Hi Mindy, I red you post about the canter problem. May I suggest another idea for you to consider? Here is my idea. Please let me know IF it is of any help to you and Billy. Go ALL the way back to the beginning. Ask him to WALK in the round pen or on the lounge line. Then ask him to stop from the WALK. Ask him to back 2 steps after he has stopped. Work on this until he is solid at walking and when asked to stop he will freely back with NO brace. Then, with him on the lounge line, lounge him at the walk, stop him, ask him to back 2 or more steps THEN ask him to yield his hind quarters. When this is really solid at the walk, the backing and yielding his hind quarters then proceed to the trot and do the same. If you make Billy gallop and run he WILL think that this is WHAT you want him to do, gallop and run. Also, he can gallop and run for FAR longer than you can keep moving with him in the round pen. You do not want him to exhaust you. I sincerely hope that this helps you both. I know how deeply you love him and I also know, as a fact, that you have done WONDERFUL work with Billy. Your friend, Penny Johnson

    1. thank you so much penny! i will give this a try as well! i think i’ll make a little video with all these wonderful suggestions at work. of course it will take me a few days to try the different things 😉 i don’t have a round pen so usually what i do is send him out on the circle, then i walk around while he canters, or gallops around me. we can cover quite a lot of ground this way AND he has to navigate all the rocks, ditches, sagebrush. sometimes having to use his brain so he doesn’t trip is very helpful in calming him down… IF i can hang onto the rope! today went much much better. i’m really looking forward to trying your idea out! thank you again for your imput! i’m so glad i have all these wonderful ideas on my blog so i can check back and make sure i’m doing it right 🙂

  5. Hey just wanted to add that the canter and the gallop are the “escape” gaits, the natural gait is the walk and trot…these are the gaits they cover ground with. So when you speed them up into canter or gallop a LOT of horses get very emotional and “instinctive”…that’s why we have to teach relaxation into these gaits 🙂 Just a pearl of wisdom from my PP, “think like a horse”

    1. thank you liz!! this is very important to keep in mind when playing with the canter/gallop. the key is definitely relaxation. i’ve found with billy that it is not the number of laps that helps with the relaxation but the rhythm of it. so i can encourage him to settle into a rhythmic canter or gallop he will just let down, blow out and relax in less than 5 or 6 laps. his top line gets all round and he flows around. so lovely!!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s