wow.  this is something i need to remember every time i play.  and it directly relates to what has been going on in my relationship with billy.  my goals are to learn to be quiet with myself so i can be quiet with billy.  this peace will translate into better communication.  what better time to practice peace and quiet than in the dead of winter…


The Release
The Release

I was re-reading some of my old Savvy Times magazines and came across this gem by Linda Parelli,

I started teaching Hot Jazz to canter ‘half pass’ (canter diagonally across the arena) and it took about a dozen repetition before he could do it without tension. The next day, he couldn’t wait to do it!

Horses learn when you release, so it’s important not to stop or “release” when the horse is having trouble. This is not always easy! If you don’t have the skills, it’s better to back off rather than do more, but I finally got to the stage where I could ask him to stay focused.

She was talking about the process she took to help Hot Jazz go from frazzled to focused during the Horse and Soul tours last summer. He had some stressful right brained moments so the summer turned into a time for Linda to really work on their relationship and Hot Jazz’s confidence.

Billy’s problem with maintain gait on the circle really boils down to a confidence issue and me understanding neutral and when to ask for more instead of stopping too soon.

As a human being I tend to get bored or worry that HE is getting bored so I stop too soon.  Billy is mostly a left brained horse and repetition can bore them. However when he is feeling more right brained, unconfident and tense then I must treat him like a right brained horse and they LOVE repetition!

I really do try to adjust to him moment by moment and focus on not getting stuck in one quadrant with him or myself. My ultimate goal is to help Billy become centered. And along the way I suspect I too will become centered.


sometimes i think i really know what neutral is.  then other days i really wonder if i know what i’m doing.

billy really struggles with maintain gait when playing the circling game.  when i watched a video that i made today i noticed that i keep my arm raised as he is going around the circle.  i know i’m doing this because i feel that if i drop my arm billy will transition down to the trot.  if i keep my arm up he will continue to canter.  but what i’m really teaching him is that he canters while my arm is raised and transitions down when i lower it!  I’M training this misconception into him.

so that got me thinking… do i really understand neutral?  neutral when the horse is moving?  i understand it when i get an answer i like and we are playing around with something that has a definite ending, like hunting the jump, standing on the pedestal, doing the half jump, sideways, etc.  but neutral when he is moving around me i just don’t understand.  when i try to go to neutral billy will turn and either try to come into the middle or he will continue circling, but will trot instead of canter.

i’m thinking this is a neutral problem. if i was truly going into neutral when he is cantering, then he would know he has the answer right.

that brings up another question however.  before when i would play with different patterns and challenges, when he gets the answer right i go into neutral and BRING HIM IN.  or stop what we are doing for some think time.  we did this during the canter and the circle game at first.  then went back to it this summer.  now whenever he feels like he has the answer he just wants to come in or stop.  i TRAINED him to do that.

how do i UNTRAIN it!?

pat always says that lots of horses are taught things by their humans that they never need to know.

i know i’ve done that to billy.  and untraining is one of the hardest things to accomplish.

i think i have a lot of licking and chewing to do…..

When I am soft and quiet in my body,mind and emotions, our play times seem to just flow.
How soft can you be?

In this above video Linda Parelli talks about being soft when we ask our horses to do things. How softly can you ask for a transition? A stop? A back up?

I find myself yelling at Billy a lot because I think I need to really be obvious in what I’m asking. We have moved beyond that in our training however and I need to remember my own advice about progress!

One thing I struggle with a bit is when I am being soft I also feel like I’m being a big sneaky. Then when I start to think about being sneaky, Billy mostly always tries to leave or does if we are playing at liberty! How interesting!

I watched the gal in the above video asking Hot Jazz ever so softly for the transitions and the bring back and realized that softness does not have to look sneaky. However when she swung her stick that DID look a bit sneaky to me. I thought it looked like she was afraid to swing the stick? Thoughts on this?

(I guess I would be afraid to swing a stick and string at Linda Parelli’s horse with her looking on.)

When I am soft and quiet in my body, mind and emotions, our play times seem to just flow. Billy is light as a feather as I ask for changes of direction, transitions up and down, half jumps and jumping the barrels. The whole thing looks like a beautiful dance. Those sessions feed my soul and support me during the sessions where he runs me over, steals my treat bag and leaves with his tail flagging in the air- nanner nanner!

It’s completely clear to me how important it is to be myself and be in the moment when I’m playing with Billy. However he also has responsibilities in our sessions. I could be Buddha some days and it wouldn’t matter. Billy would still have his own agenda and his own ideas.

Of course if I WAS Buddha I guess I would completely understand the idea of never making the horse feel wrong…

Progressing in your Horsemanship
Progressing in your Horsemanship

Something I’ve noticed in the Parelli program are students that don’t progress. People often come to the program because they have a difficult horse. They start at one point in the process, get some tools, have some breakthroughs and then don’t ask for more – of themselves or their horse. The horse may have come into the program an extreme Right Brained Extrovert but as it gains confidence, it will start to become more centered. But the human still thinks of them as an RBE and treats them as such. Keeping both themselves and their horse in that tiny little spot on the horsenality chart.

I see people stuck in level 2, not progressing because they are afraid to scare their horse.

The name of the game is progress. Progress comes in the simplest of forms.

It can be a simple friendly game in which you up the anti. Progress further. Just how friendly can you get your horse with an umbrella?

Be imaginative! Throw things on the ground. Stumble around like a drunk person. Note how your horse handles this and then PROGRESS. Help your horse get brave. Help him move past his fears to that space where he feels safe -where he can see you as an effective leader. Use your imagination and the imaginations of your friends!

In one Savvy Club DVD (Issue 74: Calm, Connected and Responsive – Extroverts – Online) I heard Linda Parelli say that many many people have not won the friendly game. They can play it with their stick and string and maybe they can touch the horse all over. Maybe. But they don’t progress the friendly game beyond that. Then they wonder why their horse is always so nervous.

Pay attention to how your horse feels about the situations you are putting him in and then balance your friendly game! The friendly game can always be expanded on. There is always one more thing you can try, test your horses confidence and then help him gain even more.

Progress is the name of the game. Don’t get stuck in the mud! And don’t blame the Parelli program (or your instructor or you HORSE!) when you don’t progress. It’s completely up to you.


mirror: v.

to show a reflection of.

your horse is your mirror.  this is something to think about.  IF your horse is your mirror, then what do you want your horse to look like?  act like?

if we manage our emotions then our horse can manage his.

“your horse is only as brave as you are.”  ~ pat parelli

“my horse was fine until i showed up.” ~ linda parelli

i find it interesting that when i have a lesson i tend to get nervous.  i’m nervous that things are not going to go smoothly so i can get help with the things that are popping up in our daily play sessions.

what tends to happen is when i am nervous, my mirror, my horse, gets nervous and old problems pop up.  then we spend our whole session playing with THOSE issues, never getting to the things that i WANT to address.  this is very stressful to me because my ego comes up and i worry about how inept i look to the instructor, how inept i am actually being and how that is also affecting my horse, my mirror.

me not being in control of my emotions sets us back during our lessons.  i know that if i took a few minutes to just get things under control, we would both benefit, but i get all flustered, so billy gets all flustered and acts differently than he does when it’s just us and the camera man.  different than when it’s us and people visiting and watching a session.  having that instructor around sends me into a whirlwind of emotions!

i am a right brained extroverted person so i can get pretty crazy when i’m nervous or upset.  when billy is right brained and extroverted he can get pretty crazy as well!  talk about an effective mirror!  sometimes i don’t love the reflection however…