The Seven Games
The Seven Games: Seven categories of interactions for you and your horse to develop a language together that will earn you your horse’s respect as a leader. The Games are based on the ways horses interact with each other in a natural herd dynamic to establish communication and dominance. The Seven Games are the basis of every maneuver you will want to teach your horse within the Parelli Program, no matter how basic or advanced.
- Learn the games in order.
- Vary them as you progress.
- Advance them through faster gaits and longer lines (ropes).
- Introduce obstacles and props.
- Play them on the ground and when riding.
When you learn to use the Seven Games, horses quickly understand what you want. The Seven Games establish a language between horse and human that enables clarity of communication and positions you in the alpha role – head of the herd, even if there’s only two in your “herd.” The Seven Games are natural to horses, but it’s a language we humans have to learn in order to communicate clearly and effectively.
The Seven Games will help you solve problems and become a more effective horseman. They are actually seven categories of games, and when you learn how to think more categorically, it takes the mystery out of training horses.
- Fear, spookiness, handling difficulties, resistance, and behavioral problems (both on the ground or riding) can all be solved effectively through communication, understanding and psychology, without subjugation or restraint.
- You will see that every skill you want to teach your horse – from leading to flying changes, jumping to cutting, slide stops to piaffe – has its roots in one or a combination of the Seven Games.
The Parelli philosophy is all about using behavioral psychology in training, and it teaches you to build a horse’s confidence in five areas:
- His self-confidence
- In you as his leader
- As a learner
- In new environments
- Among other horses
The Seven Games give horsemen a language to use, a simple alphabet that builds into increasingly complex requests and “conversations” that horses can understand. Not only does the horse become calmer and more responsive, he becomes more mentally and emotionally connected to you – developing a partnership, strength of bond and loyalty, to the point that your horse will prefer to be with you more than with another horse.
The Friendly Game
The first of the Seven Games; the Friendly Game builds trust and relaxation. It is the most important game to play with horses who are skeptical and tense. This game is played between other games to ensure that the horse is not afraid of you or your tools.
The Porcupine Game
The second of the Seven Games; the Porcupine Game teaches your horse to yield to and from steady pressure when leading, moving your horse backwards or away from you, and responding to the rein and your leg when riding.
The Driving Game
The third of the Seven Games; the Driving Game teaches your horse to yield from rhythmic pressure without touching him. It is meant to influence the personal space around a horse.
The Yo-Yo Game
The fourth of the Seven Games; the Yo-Yo Game equalizes backwards and forwards, and develops straightness. It’s essential to transitions and promotes engagement of the hindquarters.
The Circling Game
The fifth of the Seven Games; the Circling Game sends the horse around you and teaches him to come back to you. It also teaches him the responsibility of continuing to circle without being reminded, and to maintain his gait, direction and to look where he is going. It is a game that teaches – and tests – partnership.
The Sideways Game
The sixth of the Seven Games; the Sideways Game develops the skill of moving sideways. This is important for everyday things like opening gates, as well as building suspension for lead changes.
The Squeeze Game
The seventh of the Seven Games; the Squeeze Game teaches horses to overcome their fear of small or narrow spaces. This is valuable for things like wash racks, trailers, gates, veterinary stocks and narrow passageways.