I thought I would explain a bit about what we are going to try to do with Kameo over the next few months.
Cyndi and I have talked about goal and process a lot. and have come up with a timeline that is a little compact and aggressive without being too heavy with expectations that could make this whole thing a terrible wash.
Pat Parelli is a horseman and trainer that runs and international horse training operation with his wife Linda. Pat is the Western rider and Linda cut her teeth long ago in high-level dressage. They make a great pair. Each of them has a slightly different approach with the horses, but they use an organic natural training.
Their training (as I am understanding it) is based on what they call the Seven Games. These are games that Pat developed as he worked with and watched horses over his career. They are games that horses play with each other and humans can play with them. You use the Seven Games to speak the horse’s language during training.
The seven games are:
- Friendly Game
- Porcupine Game
- Driving Game
- Yo-Yo Game
- Sideways Game
- Circling Game
- Squeeze Game
More information can be found about these games and horse-training philosphy at the Parelli website and the links in the sidebar of this site, but here is a (very) basic breakdown of what they are and what they do:
- The Friendly Game is a way of introducing yourself physically to the horse and letting it know that you aren’t a threat. You do it with a carrot stick and rope initially. After the horse is comfortable with you touching them all over with the stick and rope, you can work into more aggressive and personal touching. In this case, we are going to have to go SLOW. Every day we will have to start off with maybe 45 minutes of friendly game and incorporate it into all of our interactions.
- The Porcupine Game is a way of getting the horse to respond to pointed and direct pressure. The point isn’t to poke at the horse, but for them to understand the implication of direct pressure.
- The Driving Game is a kind of outgrowth of the porcupine game. You use it to imply pressure to direct the horse.
- The Yo-Yo game is a game of backing up in a controlled and direct way.
- The Sideways Game is just that.
- The Circling Game is a way for the trainer to direct the movement of the horse in an intentional way.
- The Squeeze Game prepares the horse for tight spaces and helps them overcome their claustrophobia.
Now the Parellis aren’t the only game in town, and like I tell my sewing and design students: You want to find out as much information from as many different sources as possible for a couple of reasons. On one hand, you may find the same information written or presented in a different voice that appeals to you more. Always look around.
When I was researching how to train and what I was going to need to do, I started with Parelli through Cyndi and my cousin Bill.
I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to make a difference in just two days a week, but Bill said that if we managed it right, it should make a difference. I would have to be careful not to push too hard and that I may have to extend my timeline a little, but two days a week would work if we kept it together.
I sat down and started to think about the problems we were up against, the positives we could use to our advantage, and the schedule we would need to come up with.
- Have a sweeter, kinder horse.
- Have a braver horse.
- Have a breed-able horse that won’t imprint its own negative traits in the foaling stall.
- Have a functional horse from a riding and working perspective.
There are a few problems right off the bat.
- Halter and leading
- Touching and trust
- Movement and direction
- Spooking and fear
- Biting, nipping, and kicking
There are a few good things about her:
- She is whip smart. She can pick up on things fast.
- She is in great shape.
- She has tons of energy.
- She isn’t food driven. This is nice. It means I don’t have to have a pocket full of treats to get my point across.
- She really likes me, it seems.
I have two days a week that I can be out on the farm. Kameo can’t take two 12 hours of instruction. Both of us would be in a battle of wills. I don’t need to prove that I am the Duke of Wellington to her Napoleon.
I am going to have to come up with a schedule that is a bit of a challenge and yet gives her some time to think and relax.
Process & Schedule:
And here we are. The process. I am going to have to come up with a direct and yet somewhat flexible schedule for us. Here is what I’ve cobbled together:
- Week 1: Friendly Games, grooming, leading
- Week 2: Friendly Games, grooming, leading
- Week 3: Friendly Games, grooming, leading, begin desensitization
- Week 4: Friendly Games, grooming, leading, desensitization, begin porcupine, begin some squeeze game to prep for trailering
- Week 5: Friendly Games, grooming, leading, desensitization, porcupine, squeeze game, begin saddle & cinch as a friendly game, begin introduction of bit & bridle
- Week 6: Friendly Games, grooming, leading, desensitization, porcupine, squeeze, saddle & cinch as friendly game, introduction to bit & bridle
- Week 7: Friendly Games, grooming, leading, desensitization, porcupine, squeeze, saddle & cinch as friendly game, begin driving, bit & bridle
- Week 8: Friendly Games, grooming, leading, desensitization, porcupine, squeeze, saddle & cinch as friendly game, driving, begin circle game, bit & bridle
- Week 9: Friendly Games, grooming, leading, desensitization, porcupine, squeeze, saddle & cinch as friendly game, driving circle game, bit & bridle
We will leave it there for the time being. I am still pretty new to this and have to remember that I can’t put a horse on a training schedule like I would schedule a dress for one of my clients.
Wish me luck!