This article was originally published in the May 2012 issue of Savvy Times magazine. Recent back-issues of Savvy Times are available for Parelli members in the Resources section of Parelli Connect.
Achieving the Right Frame of Mind
-by Linda Parelli
Keeping these three words in mind is a great way to remind yourself what you need to do when warming your horse up or playing with him. It’s so easy to play the Seven Games or do Parelli Patterns but get in a bit of a rut by doing what you usually do, and not really getting your horse in the right frame of mind.
Ask yourself this: “What is my goal when I’m warming up?” Most of us don’t really know what it is we’re shooting for, so in this article we’re going to show you how to be focused on a particular outcome that is more mental and emotional than physical.
What’s the goal?
There are three goals that Pat and I look for when warming up our horses: We need them to be calm, connected and responsive throughout the session.
CALM: A horse cannot learn when he is not calm. Tension is not only the enemy of successful training, but it can be dangerous as well. The difference between tension and a horse blowing up is just a matter of seconds, so learning how to first get your horse calm is essential to your safety and success.
CONNECTED: Having your horse more focused on you than anything else is an important goal. People can get so frustrated when their horses are sticky by the gate, don’t want to leave the other horses, or are pulling back towards the barn or spooking at everything. All these issues indicate a horse not being connected to you.
RESPONSIVE: A horse that doesn’t want to go, is dull to the aids, or is slow to respond – or, on the other extreme, is overreactive and impulsive – is frustrating and difficult to make progress with.
When you have your horse calm, connected and responsive, training is a breeze. Not only do you make great progress, your bond becomes closer and time spent together is more fun for both of you.
Different Horsenalities™ have different needs, and when they are not met, it can leads to problems. It’s just like communication and understanding breakdowns between people – when you don’t know what the other person’s needs are, you make unintentional mistakes that are offensive, upsetting or frustrating in some way.
What’s really important to realize is that we are causing these behaviors because we aren’t conscious of what the horse really needs. Once we give them what they need, things change quickly and only then can we ask for what we want and expect a willing response.
Knowing your horse’s Horsenality will give you major clues as to what approach you need to take – do you need to start with strategies to get them calm, connected or more responsive first?
The way to connect with extroverts is to get them responsive and calm. Only then will they like us. On the other hand, introverts need connection to become responsive – they have to like us first. Here are some examples.
The more you understand the behavioral and psychological science of Horsenality, the more successful you will be with horses – any horse – no matter what your goal. It’s all about finding personal success in the relationship with your horse by putting the relationship first, which means putting the needs of your horse first. Great horsemen see and know the differences between horses and know that each horse is unique and has specific needs. One of the secrets to success is to give your horse what he or she needs before asking for what you want.
Your warm up is everything.
Success is all about preparation.