apparently i did not write my last post very well and it caused some confusion.  i will not enclose billy in a small pen and make him run as fast as he can.  as a parelli student i know that this is a useless way to help my horse through an emotional situation.  i’ve witnessed several horses “round penned” until sweat was coming out of their ears and they could barely catch their breathe.  this was not what i was writing about.

when i said i would have billy in a fenced in, safe area, what i meant was i would close the gates that lead out to the two different 10 acre pastures and just play with him in the playground area that i have set up.  this area, including our yard around the house, is 3 acres.  we know where all the ditches, sagebrush and slippery spots are in this area so i can safely send him out on a circle at a canter or gallop and not worry about him stumbling in a hole or slipping on the wet ground.

my plan so far has been to send him out in a circle, then ask for the canter, then i walk.  i walk all around so he doesn’t have to canter on a small circle.  i have him a 22′ line so i can reach him if he needs a little help cantering, but with all the walking it’s very much like having him on the 45′ line.  he has to navigate a few things like sagebrush, the blue barrels, the little shallow ditch that runs through our play area and so on.  having these things to do also helps his brain get to his feet faster and more effectively.

once he can lower his head and breathe out, blowing out his nose, then i immediately disengage and bring him in for some friendly game and a few cookies.  i’ve done this the last two play sessions and in the second session he relaxed much faster.  when going to the left he was able to lower his head and blow out after just one canter lap.  going to the right took a little longer.  i sent him out and brought him in a few times today and he stayed in that relaxed frame the entire time he cantered.

now sometimes everything completely falls apart on the third day… but only tomorrow will tell that!  and i must watch myself as well.  as buck brannaman says, “treat him like the horse you want him to be, not like he is”… or was yesterday!  and our horse is our mirror.  if i’m not relaxed and confident it is likely that billy will not be relaxed or confident either.  so i must remember to breathe as well.

thank you to all that posted in my comments yesterday!  your ideas are wonderful and i plan to put each one of them in action.  i’m game to try anything to help billy through this.

just know that i will not just send him out to blindly gallop wildly in a small enclosed area.  there is nothing for him to learn in that scenario.  i am all about helping my horse, holding his hand and offering him the best deal i can while we work through some of these sticky spots in our journey.  after all that is what parelli is all about!


  1. SO glad to hear there is progress! I can’t wait to see how it works out for you and Billy!
    So my question is (thinking about Estella), does he just maintaing the canter until you ask him to stop once he has relaxed? With Estella being so lazy lately she often breaks before we make any real progress and I feel like I nag, nag, nag her sometimes to keep going.

    1. i kind of drive him around me. by that i mean that i walk with him, facing him (with my belly button pointed at his zone 3/4) and if needed i encourage a little with my stick and string, just gently, by rolling it on the ground in his zone 5. he is getting much better about maintaining gait though. i find that if i support him in this way he is better able to go more than just one or two laps 🙂

      i supposed that tagging the ground worked in one sense because it caused him to think about making me keep my stick on the ground 😉 it just also caused some stress in his body. maybe you have to fix one thing, maintain gait, then fix the stress that teaching maintain gait causes? i know that in parelli people often talk about how fixing one thing causes other things to fall apart and that is just the nature of the beast!

      i can explain the don’t break gait game if you need me to! i also have a video of it on youtube… thank so much emily!

      1. Awesome! I will have to experiment.

        With my old LBI, once every 3 or so months (at least that is what it felt like!) I would tag the ground three times where he stopped and he would ALWAYS maintain gait after that for a while. Which is funny because he is LBI. With Estella it is more complicated. She isn’t very responsive to begin with. I can barely get her to trot anymore no matter what I do. I am trying to be softer and softer to get a better phase 1 and a quick 2,3,4, but she now isn’t paying attention to the phase 1 or 4! Ha! Tonight she wasn’t too bad, but I often feel so….naggy. I just want her to be responsive at phase 1 and I can’t seem to figure it out.

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