Something that Pat Parelli does is get right to the point.  He knows exactly what the horse needs in order to become calm, connected and responsive… it’s only the secret of horsemanship!  So as I come back into the teaching arena, more and more I can see where this secret has stayed with Pat but needs to get out to all of you, so that’s my job.

When you warm up your horse, I have noticed a pattern (and I used to do this too) – unless you are dealing with safety issues, you tend to do all your favorite things on the ground… Circling Game, Stick to me, over some jumps or on a pedestal perhaps.  It’s fun, and feels cool, and it makes sure your horse is rideable. But I want you to start thinking a little deeper than this because what I tend to see is horses that are mentally, emotionally and physically tired of it.  Bored, bored, bored.  And I’ll tell you one thing… Pat Parelli’s horses are never bored!

Recently I was presenting a seminar and I asked the audience if they knew what their horse needed when warming up. The response was basically “Huh?”  Hence this blog!

As Pat so wisely says:  “Cause your idea to become your horse’s idea, but understand your horse’s idea first.”

Yup” we all say.

But do we really know what this means?  The Seven Games and Parelli Patterns are so powerful that they will teach a horse to pretty much do whatever you want, but the attitude with which you apply them is what makes the difference between doing it “with” your horse versus “to” your horse.  We’ve all seen these wonderful techniques used with an arrogant or forceful attitude and that is not what I’m talking about.  I’m talking about you and me… well-intentioned, kind, educated horse lovers who are trying to do the best for their horse but have no idea that we’ve passed the point where the horse actually thinks it’s interesting and it’s no longer really effective.  Yes, they are safe… obedient… but they are not necessarily exuberant.

When you warm up your horse, think about this: What is your outcome?  Let me give you a simple formula:

  1. Calm
  2. Connected
  3. Responsive

CALM – You need your horse calm so he won’t buck you off, run off with you, be hard to control because he is playing up or on a high-headed nervous or terrified spook-fest.  So if you achieved the outcome of CALM, your horse would look “ridable” and be safe to be around.

CONNECTED – You want your horse to be connected which means he is more connected to you than the stables, the herd, the gate. When connected he sees only you and is not concerned with anything else going on – he might notice it but he’s not absorbed or distracted by it.  Like being out to dinner with someone… you hope they are more connected with you than anyone else!  That is up to YOU, to US, to achieve.

RESPONSIVE – When you ask your horse something, does he comply, resist or respond with enthusiasm?  So many horses react defensively or resist and argue, but getting that eager and willing response is something most of us dream about.  Left Brain Horsenalities are often the more challenging, but Right Brain Horsenalities can also get less responsive and interested once they are no longer afraid of things and know the drill. Yikes… did I say “drill”?!

In finally figuring out this simple formula, I’m excited to expand on it and write a larger article for our members’ Savvy Times Magazine in November that will also present the “how”.  And who knows, a member’s DVD on the same subject could be pretty cool too.  Once I taught these concepts to a group in a two day course for the first time, the next day the results were astonishing.  It was a completely different picture – the horses were calm, connected and responsive.  And the humans were ecstatic!  I told them that Pat would be proud.

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