Petra's Parelli World - Follow my Journey as a Parelli Professional Instructor

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Yeah, but... Spots... How to improve your friendly game!

With the weather being wet and cold, playing friendly is something we can do even in the worst type of weather...

So, has your horse told you about "yeah, but..." spots? "Yeah, you can touch me here but NOT there!" or "Yeah, you can touch me there, but no, not really..." or the famous " Yeah, I stand still, but I HATE it when you touch me there!"...

We find those spots when we do friendly game with the goal of true acceptance not just tolerance. With my Morgan JB it was mostly his face. For the longest time he would move his head away when I tried to rub him. Putting my relationship with my horse first, I did not force the issue. He clearly told me that he wasn't ready to feel ok being touched on his forehead. After some investigating, I found out that JB enjoyed me rubbing his chin (with the backside of my hand in the beginning), it was a compromise... Now that our relationship progressed, I can touch his face, rub his forehead, and he will show me by lowering his head that he's ok with it.

So, where are your horse's "yeah, but.." spots...? By finding and eliminating these areas we solidify our friendly game and take it to the next level. Acceptance is our key! Watch out for tenseness in your horse's facial expression, in his neck, and tail. Look for a wrinkled nose and mouth that will tell you, "I really hate it when you touch me there!" As long as we overlook those, we are blowing through our horse's thresholds and that will impact our relationship negatively.

Even if the weather is bad, this is something you can do with limited time on hand. Look out for areas that your horse is not ok with being touched. Your horse might even stand still, tolerating, but not accepting. Use approach and retreat to build your friendly game in those areas. Value your horse's feedback and feelings, and he will thank you with a better attitude.

Let me know how your relationship with your horse is coming along, I'd love to hear from you!

Friday, February 19, 2010


Boundaries..... hmmm....
When I first started with Parelli Natural Horsemanship, I was not only unconfident while riding, I was downright scared for my life. My confidence around horses got shattered due to a riding accident, where I got thrown off the horse, listened to my friend to get back on and got - again! - bucked off just a few minutes later. My inner gut had told me not to get back on my horse (more about why it happened and how in a later blog... :-). Yet, I listened to my neighbor and friend and mounted back up.
Why do we do things that WE don't feel comfortable doing, but other people tell us to do or expect us to do? I realized that it's because I was unable to set boundaries and unable to say NO. I was certainly guilty of THAT. All I had to do that day was, say NO! No, I do not feel ok getting back on my horse... It might be ok for you to do that, but it's not ok for me. Saying this, would have meant that I take care of my feelings, my confidence, my health, simply taking care of myself. Hmmm... Rather than doing that I pleased my friend, lost my confidence, hurt my body and did some serious damage to my emotional well-being.
It took me a while to figure out, that I was never really good at setting boundaries. Not with my horses, not with my family, not with my friends, not with customers, not with strangers. My mom was and still is of the opinion that you have to take care of others first, and that you take care of yourself last. So, this is what she taught me. It took me a long time to be OK and feel good about taking care of myself FIRST. A friend told me once: How can you take care of others, if you don't take care of yourself.... Giving myself the permission to do just that... it was hard... and sometimes, it still is :-)
Do you know Pat Parelli's 45's P's? Here is a part of it:
"This Perspective takes Patience from Process to Product, from Principle to Purpose. "
Yes, it's still a process for me, and it does take patience and the principle is the willingness to notice, learn and move on, instead of beating myself up over mishaps and missteps... :-) I have to pat myself on the back, I am getting much better at setting boundaries and reinforcing them. I learned this by following the Parelli program. Being aware of my personal space, being aware that there is a difference between my horse asking to come to me and simply invading my space by coming close uninvited.... Being more particular and to expect more from myself and my horse...
Engaging in never-ending self-development... It's a journey... It's part of being a Parelli student....
So, how do you do with boundaries?
I'd love to hear from you!
Yours naturally,

Monday, February 8, 2010

Success - But how?

Remember my last post about the catching game? Well, coming back after a couple weeks to prepare for our Parelli Demo at Springvalley Farm, my catching game was still broken.

My horses watched me with eagle eyes marching across the pasture, then checked whether I had any food (after all for the last two months humans equaled yummy food once a day) and then they took off - yet again.

The next day I finally realized that going out to the pasture was not the thing to do. I had three days, with just a couple hours a day to spend. I simply could not fix what was broken in the amount of time I had.
So, how could I set myself up for success?

Seeing my horses take off at a dead beat gallop, kicking up, rearing and bucking with pure joy would have been lots of fun, but not when you have a demo coming up! I was disappointed but also could rationalize why this was happening. I had not played consistently with neither Cash nor JB for about half a year. First pigeon fever, then a new job and consequently moving 6 hours away... But still, my feelings were hurt.

Did that help the situation? Absolutely not.

So, I decided to put my emotions aside and set up a plan.

Most likely, neither Cash nor JB, would take off once they saw their feed buckets. The catching game was also no challenge in a smaller area. So, I literally forbid myself to go out and check whether my horses wouldn't catch me and used feeding time to ask them to follow me in the playground. Of course, having two buckets with food in my hand, made that an easy task. While they were eating, I just hang out with them. Once they were finished, I asked them to come over and halter. No problem... hhmmm, how interesting!

What I learned from this:

1. Analyze the situation that you are in

I had limited time and I needed to play with my horses to prepare for my demo

2. Assess your goal

My goal at first was to have my horses come to me out in the pasture and halter willingly.

3. Put your emotions aside

Feeling left behind, while Cash and JB ran off, didn't help. I acknoledged my feeling and then decided to put it aside since it was not useful

4. Reassess your goal

  • Do you have a realistic goal that does not conflict with your current situation?

  • Adjust your goal, if necessary

I had to adjust my goal because I did not have enough time to fix my broken catching game.

4. Find a solution to reach your goal

Once I assessed my goal and acknoledged my emotions, I was able to put my emotions aside and reassess my goal. It was simply unrealistic. I then found that the solution came to me - easily!

It was all about finding a solution that fit the situation...

How do you set yourself up for success? I'd love to hear from you!

Yours naturally,