Liberty - The Seven Games
An excerpt from the Level 2 Liberty Student Lesson from the Four Savvys with Pat Parelli
The Seven Games
1 The Friendly Game
Your horse should demonstrate his confidence and connection by giving you two eyes as you approach. Without the halter and lead rope, you should be able to rub him all over, toss the rope over his back and around his legs, and helicopter the string over him without him demonstrating any tension or apprehension.
2 The Porcupine Game
Your horse should respond appropriately to steady pressure from your hands, moving where you want him to move. As you play this game, be sure to look for proper weight distribution. If your horse is out of balance, you’re not going to receive an ideal physical response.
3 The Driving Game
Playing the Stick-To-Me Game is a great way to improve your draw. Your body language should have progressed to the point that, even without the halter and lead rope, your horse responds appropriately and respectfully to rhythmic pressure. Your phases are clear, and you are able to disengage and move the hindquarters and forequarters reliably using only your body language and Carrot Stick & Savvy String.
4 The Yo-Yo Game
You should be able to achieve reliable and snappy transitions from the walk to the trot on the circle.
As you are incorporating the Circling Game into your Yo-Yo Game, don’t forget to continue progressing with a standard backwards-and-forwards Yo-Yo Game as well. For example, stand in the center of the round corral and send your horse straight back until his Zone 5 reaches the rail, and then draw him back to you.
5 The Circling Game
The Circling Game at Liberty will test your mental connection in particular, as well as your ability to be clear in your phases. The transition from circling On Line with slack in the rope to circling at Liberty should be smooth. Practice a simple three-part Circling Game: send, allow, and bring back.
Incorporating the following pattern is a great way to keep your horse engaged mentally as well as physically:
Play as if you were On Line.
After the send, allow your horse to do 4-6 laps.
Throughout the laps, practice walk/trot transitions by applying the following phases. To achieve upward transitions (walk to trot), influence the zone behind your horse; to achieve downward transitions (trot to walk), influence the zone in front of your horse.
Phase 1: influence zones 180 degrees behind or in front.
Phase 2: 90 degrees behind or in front.
Phase 3: 45 degrees behind or in front.
Phase 4: Tag the Spot directly behind or in front of your horse.
6 The Squeeze Game
Playing the Squeeze Game is all about overcoming your horse’s innate claustrophobia. By playing this game On Line with slack in the rope, you avoided any impulse to simply pull your horse through tight spaces, relying instead on your ability to develop his confidence and comfort level. In Liberty, applying those same skills should be fairly straightforward. Your horse should be able to consistently pass through a three-foot gap while remaining left-brained.
*You likely noticed that the Sideways Game isn’t addressed here. Don’t worry, this wasn’t an oversight! As you progress into Level 3, you will learn more about playing this game at Liberty.
Preparation for Liberty is ultimately about ensuring that your foundation is set, that you and your horse meet the pre-requisites, and that your mental and emotional bond is strong enough that you can confidently and capably move on to Level 3 and beyond. Liberty is the ultimate test of your connection with your horse; these pre-requisites illustrate what you’ll need to iron out in order to become true partners.
And remember, if your connection begins to waver while playing at Liberty, go back to On Line and figure out whatever’s holding you back. Playing On Line is an excellent way to diagnose any lingering holes in your mental, emotional and physical connection with your horse. Once you’re ready, it’s back to Liberty!
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