Horse Training From The Ground Up

PNH Clinic Reports

By Sue in Las Vegas, Country Christmas Presentation:

The seminar was titled, "Humans are from Mars, Horses are from Venus". Pat Parelli introduced himself.

Pat is an entertainer and seemed to enjoy speaking, a lot. Something few people really like. He commented about himself and spoke a bit about his background, saying he was going to be named Mario but he was born on St. Patrick's day, so his folks named him Pat. He indicated, he was supposed to be Pat Parella, but, they could not read his grandfather's writing at Ellis Island, so, he became Pat Parelli.

He talked about "peer pressure" and how important it was to most people to follow the norm and not break away from "standard" training techniques etc.

He spoke a bit about "normal" training vs. "natural" training. And though it's different from what we've all been taught, horses understand it much better. Essentally, the difference between a horse doing stuff to please us from fear vs. doing stuff to please us, cause it wants to.

Then he talked about prey animals vs. predators. He spoke on the differences between how we, as predators perceive our world and how a horse, as a prey animal perceives it. He pointed out among other differences, that, we, as predators, have eyes to the front of our faces, as that's more useful to us, where, horses have them on the sides of their faces, so they can see better all around them in order to perceive predators. This enabled them to survive for thousands of years.

Parelli talked about horses first thought being for safety (survival), then comfort. Then, he commented, that horses are like computers, they'll do exactly what you ask them to, not necessarily what you want! He also commented, that horses cannot be embarrassed. They do not lie, have no capability to do so. He made an comparison of a dog and a horse. If you say to a dog, bad dog, the dog will hang it's head, if you say, bad horse, nothing at all will happen. A horse will not react in embarrassment.

He also commented about predator types having bigger "frontal lobes" for logic. Where a horse and prey animals are built very differently. He used an anology that if a barn was on fire and all the horses were released to run out, that they more often than not, will run right back in, cause the barn represents "safety" to them, where predator types will "logically" run away from danger.

He spoke awhile about helmets and savvy. Basically, the gist of which was that it's basically knowledge and "savvy" that will allow a person to be safe. That it's what's IN your head, not ON it. He made a reference to a heavy helmet causing you, when you fall to hit head first!

I personally disagree with this. You should do both, be knowledgeable AND wear a helmet. Today's helmets are lightweight, gov't regulated and have ventillation. There's no reason not to wear one, just ego. That's not good enough. I'd rather have my brains in my head than elsewhere! In my years of riding, no matter how broke or mellow a horse is, he/she can still be startled (or react to a companion horse who's startled) and, no matter how knowledgeable the rider, he/she can still be surprised with disasterous results. We don't always ride in a super safe environment like an arena! (I'll get off my soapbox now!)

Pat talked about the left side of the brain vs. right side, in the horse. (I'm not sure I got this right.) I think he said that the right side (right side of the right side) equals "savvy", and that the left side of the brain equals "thinking". But, I'm not sure I got that right, now, it doesn't make sense, I thought the left side was "reaction", or was it the right???

He spoke at length about love, language and respect being the keys to unlock a horse's brain. He also spoke about the "Seven Games" representing those same keys and unlocking a horse's mind.

Pat's talk was very entertaining. He told many stories to help one understand better, the points, he was trying to convey.

One also got the feeling, that he was very, very smart and knowledgeable, maybe, even having a college degree or two, but that he forcibly portrayed himself as a bit more "down home" to appeal more to the crowd, which were more "cowboy" types.

He also interspersed a lot of his presentation with more graphical material (body functions) for that very same reason. But, because of that, it was anything, but boring!! He suceeded very well, at getting his point across, introductory though, it was. But, that was the point, to get people started, thinking, "there is another way". He was very successful in conveying that.

By Faye Hill, Partnership (L1) with Tony Lander

Work with the horse with the 12ft line looped once over your elbow. This game teaches the horse that if you rub any part of the horse it can stop. Densitising can include approach and retreat during the desensitising. If the horse gets scared and needs to move, allow it, but don't just let them walk away from you. Keep horses eyes and attention on you. Prey animals know that predators give up.

To determine whether your horse is gentle: can you run the back of your hand from the groove behind the chin, up over the muzzle, turn your hand over and continue up the head and over the ears, down the back to the tail, then down the legs to feet.......all in one continuous motion.

If your horse turns his head away from you, bring it back to teach that comfort is with you, not elsewhere.

Does your horse trust you: stand in front of the horse, place hands between ears, push ears flat, cause horse to drop its head, then move it across, back up, over, down, etc.

PORCUPINE = constant pressure
Carrot stick on chest, holding it like a bayonet. Stand with one foot in front of the other. Go through the 4 phases of pressure with a determined look on your face. Rub to stop. The pressure turns into a rub, there is no total release of pressure then the rub. This helps to get the stop more and more quickly. To ask for more than one step, keep the pressure on at the phase you got the initial response. Only remove the pressure to stop.

Porcupine the nose:
Hands above the noseband, look out the back of the horse. Don't have hands near where the nostrils are soft. If horse lifts head too high, run hand down face or somewhere else, but maintain contact. Don't let the horse get your hand off. If head goes too low, lift knee up rythmically to bring head up. If throwing head around, keep hand on but don't worry so much about the backup, just work on geting head to stay still. Then work on the backup. Might need to put pressure on chest as well as head if horse locks up, ie use fingers like eagle's claws on chest muscles. Use "paint on/paint off" motion to stop horse crowding in on you at any time.

Porcupine Hind Quarter:
Carrot stick in flank. Ask for one step. Get a good bend first (harder for horse to kick!). If horse walks forward lift rope up high. May need to use some defence means to stop front feet moving too much. Don't assume horse will be dull, always start at phase 1, always give horse a chance. *If you ask for too many steps too early, the horse will look for another way to get the release you haven't given it ....... bite, kick, etc.* If asking horse to yield a full circle, stay in the proper position, which is where you started from.

Porcupine front end:
Carrot stick in dip behind throat latch. If horse moves forward, move more in front of horse and keep on pressure. Keep stick perpendicular to horse. If horse moves forward despite your position and stick, jerk rope to stop forward movement but keep stick in position. Don't release presure till you get the step-over. Don't let horse invade your space.

Porcupine head down:
Hand just behind where the halter goes. When head moves down immediately rub hand down the mane to the wither. Remember phases, steady pressure. Then bring hand back up to head to apply pressure again. Repeat whole thing over and over till head down as far as you want. Once head is down, kneel and try playing friendly in zone 1. Porcupine up again, then down etc. Up from anywhere underneath head.

Porcupine -- isolating front and back:
Move hand from front to back maintaining contact. If it doesn't work don't get stuck trying to do the full exercise, go back and get just front or hind yield happening, then recombine to ask for one then the other. If horse is reacting rather than responding just do more to desensitise the horse. Get the bend in the neck before asking for HQ yield. Don't be in a hurry to combine front, then HQ.

1) Stand in front of horse. Rub rope with stick. Then lift rope up and tap with stick. If horse goes back, rub rope, otherwise up phase of tapping. Get to where light taps cause horse to backup. To bring in, rub underside of rope and put pressure on rope to bring horse in.

2) Stand in front of zone 1. Tap stick to either side on the ground. Move in towards horse. Aim to hit horse on knots of halter, and do so if horse doesn't move out of the way. Be prepared to connect (phase 4).

3) Stand in front of zone 1. Have popper of rope just touching ground. Swing the rope around in front of you, beside you, over etc. Change hands. As you're spinning rope, pull rope through to shorten it or let it run through to lengthen while keeping it spinning. When you are comfortable with this use the rope in the helicopter action towards horse. Allow rope to slide through hands to lengthen. Aim at knots on halter. Rope doesn't have to be moving fast.

4) Stand in front of zone 1, hold rope half way along. Tap stick up and down on ground. Walk into horse working hand up rope at same time. Keep two eyes. If horse hasn't backed, make contact with chest. Rub when you get a response. Try putting horse into a curve -- helps with straightness!

Driving zone 4:
1) Stand beside shoulder but out from the horse a bit. Stand sideways to horse. Tap stick on ground, bring in to zone 4, look at zone 4. If horse doesn't move get to tap zone 4. If horse walks forward lift rope high. If horse wont move at all, keep persisting!

2) Same procedure but with stick moving up and down in the air. Stop horse running into or over you by lifting rope high.

Aim at getting the front feet to do less. Focus through to the other hip. Walk forward as the horse moves, not before, ie walk through horse. Have your feet moving towards horse's back feet, ie don't walk away from the front, walk through the HQ. If horse walks forward lift rope. Have your feet and belly button towards zone 4. As horse turns you have to turn with it. Don't pull zone 1.

3) Stand in front of zone 1. Walk quarter circle out and around horse to get opposite zone 3. Don't let front came round. Then play friendly with zone 4. When you can do this, walk the quarter circle, then drive zone 4. Don't let zone 1 come round to stop you.

Driving Zone 1:
1) Stand at back of zone 2 facing front. Put most of rope over horse's back. Put arm that's closest to horse up over mane. Hand holding carrot stick is way out to the side. Move stick in little circles. Bring stick in towards knots on halter. Make contact if necessary. Bring elbow in across body and turn belly button towards horse. Keep stick on the side of horse, not in front.

2) Stand in zone 2 and face horse. Put stick along delicate zone, zone 2, and zone 3. Pulsate stick to drive front end as you walk into horse, ie through horse.

Driving Zone 3: (ie driving horse forward) Stand in zone 3, rub with stick. 1) Stand in front of zone 1, half way along rope. Should be able to rub middle of zone 2. Lightly tap zone 2. When horse moves (like in beginning of circle game), move stick top of zone 3 and just hold it there. Horse will now be walking around you in a circle. If it stops and faces you, tap zone 2 to send, then move stick back to zone 3. Keep your feet as still as possible. If horse stops on circle just tap zone 3 to ask it to move on, then rest stick. The resting stick is a neutral stick telling the horse it's doing the right thing. Once horse is circling round you well, just walk off straight. You need to be behind the drive line. If horse goes too fast and passes you, shake the rope up and down vertically. Once this is going well, tap zone 3 to speed horse up past you, change hands to bring horse round to other side of you. Then drive forward. Keep changing sides. Keep your focus straight ahead all the time. Don't look at horse.

Stand in front of zone 1. Use phases to ask for backup. If your horse wants to eat instead of pay attention to you, just keep going through the phases. If horse goes crooked, step out to whichever side is needed to straighten him up.

*If horse wants to eat at any time when you don't want to allow him to: smooch once, then slap!* (So simple! What a revelation)

By Shelly Finck, Lessons with Aimee

Aimee is incredibly knowledgeable about the whole horse. She is a certified tech with Bergy Bergeleen and his Natural Trim along with being an Approved Instructor for PNH and also an Approved Colt Starter for PNH. She is incredibly perceptive to different types of horses and can read them well.

I think the one thing I learned over and over is to not overlook the importance of the 7 games. In many of the lessons, she never moved beyond them. That may sound boring to some, but if it sounds boring to you, just think of what your horse may be thinking? She helped people play the 7 games to WIN. She was always on the outlook for the subtle signs of disrespect or escape. If she found a horse doing either, she helped the owner to keep at it until the horse changed it's attitude. This is all about "pushing the buttons" as Aimee puts it. Does your horse take a step forward after a yo-yo? ("I'm going to drive you.") Does he look at you with only one eye? ("I'd rather run over there!!) Does he put his butt in your face when you ask for a forequarter yield? ("I'm going to drive you with my hindquarters, then get the heck out of here!!") When you pick up your horse's feet for farrier work, is he the one that decides things are done by pulling a foot away? ("I'm the leader, and I'll decided when my feet are released!!") All subtle signs of disrespect or escape. You need to be doggedly firm and fair in the above instances. Firmness brings the respect. I posed the question in another post as to why does a horse start to draw in voluntarily and prick it's ears towards it's owner the more firm they got? Because these animals are looking for strong leaders. You of course must be careful to be fair, but most people had more problems being firm enough and trying to be too fair!! (Ok, I didn't see any bonifide horse whackers out there, most were not firm enough.) A horse that gets you to move your feet is driving you!!! That's disrespect and downright dangerous. What will happen when a horse goes right brained and tries to climb on top of you in crisis? We cannot out muscle these critters, we must establish our boundaries firmly and fairly. If you stretch your arms out, you have established your bubble. Your horse should not intrude into that unless invited. Now, don't get the wrong impression that Aimee is cold towards her own horse. She cooed and talked and loved her horse genuinely, but on HER terms, not the horses. The lead mare does not allow another horse to barge into their space unless invited. Horses respect each other for this, and will respect us for this too. I saw over and over again that disrespect should not be tolerated. We need to always be thinking "how would the lead mare react to this situation, would this be tolerated"?

I watched everything from beginning lesson with a 9 and 10 yr old, to advanced level 2 lessons with myself and 2 other gals. With the kids it was about safety. Don't pull your horse on top of you. Get your horse to drive away. For the more advanced lessons, don't overlook the power of the porcupine game. If your porcupine game on the ground is slow and dull, what can you expect of riding? Almost all the yields that we use when we're riding are porcupine. Our legs, hands, reins, hackamore, bit - everything is all porcupine game. We may resort to driving to up the phases while riding, but that should point the finger that our porcupine games are not good enough on the ground.

For me personally, being able to play with all 3 of my horses in her presence was most rewarding, followed closely by being able to watch her play with her horse. I played with my Levels horse, Cougar. She helped me to see how far we've come. I was able to do roll backs along the fence with him. I got haunch turns with just 2 carrots sticks. (I agonized over haunch turns to finnish my Level 2, and there I was doing them bareback with just two sticks!!) She showed me that during a play session at liberty, Cougar is beginning to play with me. I take that as the ultimate compliment. I think he's really beginning to see me as one of the herd, of course the lead mare, but still someone to respect and have fun with. At liberty he was begining to do a collected canter. Out on his own, no strings or bits attached, he was slowing his speed, rounding his back, reaching under with the hindquarter and tucking his nose. Respect = Impulsion = Flexion!!! They are in that order for a reason. I'm playing with a respectful horse (not 100%, but getting there) who is beginning to get impulsive (YES!!) and that is starting to turn to flexion. On the impulsive note, those of you with short horses like my Cougar, Aimee says that she has yet to see even the shortest horses start to go through an impulsive phase when the respect starts to come up. So, don't give up!!

She helped my play with my yearling. He's beginning to get some respect, but needed major help in giving his feet. She helped me with some more advance rope handling skills that are really helping to teach Jasper to give his feet. She's very much into proper preparation. Jasper would pick up his feet, but would not allow them to be held long enough for a full trim job. Instead of forcing him to succumb and "getting the job done", we postponed his trim until later in the weekend when we had a chance to do some solid preparation. Again, a little more advanced stuff that worked well, but feel and timing are of utmost importance.

I also got the chance to play with my 13 yr old, Babe. He's timid, like to try to escape and lacks confidence. How lucky I am to have 3 horses of such a wide range of horsenalities to help me learn!!

Then of course there was watching her play with her mare Chez. They made the 13+ hour trip from Montana together. They are truly partners. I sat in awe while I watched them play at liberty, in the open, in a strange place. Chez never "checked out" or even looked like she was thinking of it. She stood out in the open with 2 carrots sticks and was able to yield hindquarter and forequarter with just 2 carrot sticks so that Chez was doing a slow spin on the ground at liberty. She did finesse flying lead changes bareback and bridleleless with nothing but 2 carrot sticks. (Actually the sticks were almost always in neutral, they just happened to be in her hands.) They went backwards fast, sideways fast. She then hauled out her english saddle and we tacked Cougar up and I got a chance to get a feel for that. (I've never touched an english saddle, much less ride in one, yes I'm sheltered!) Anyway, we just plain had fun and played with our horses for about an hour or so. Of course, my playing wasn't nearly as spectacular as hers, but I never felt like a "lesser" horseman. I just felt fortunate to watch a more advanced person playing with their horse. (In my own back yard!!)

Of course, there are particular instances that set out in my mind, but overall, look for the respect. It was a full weekend, up to 10 extra horses in the lot, and 7 extra people in the house, but I learned something from almost everything!! The weekend totally motivated me and inspired me!! I have tons of things to play with and there doesn't seem to be enough hours in the day.

by Elvira Lanham, Secondary Clinic with Kate Gwinn

here were 14 horse participants and 2 donkeys! (This made for an emotional fitness task straight away for some horse/human partnerships!) After a brief session on "Light bulbs for us when we first encountered PNH" (eg Predator/prey, comfort/discomfort etc) We started with (surprise surprise) the 7 games, but there was plenty of variation on them and a few things that sunk in for me. Slow and right beats fast and wrong. I found especially with my youngster who I took in the clinic that I would be in a hurry to get through many of the games, thinking that doing it in a flurry would help keep his attention (he has chronic "gaze at the hills and ignore my human" disease!) but by breaking down each game and thinking about what you were trying to achieve, then getting small, but meaningful steps, I actually got a better result.

Kate talked about "Chocolate cake". - ie if you get a really good response or you get your horse really good at one particular game then there is a temptation to keep doing it. She said if you get it good once or twice, relax and let the horse know that was a good thing to do, but don't keep going over and over it.

Another thing she emphasised was that we can't afford just to get really good at one or two of the games, our horses are masters at all of them. Make sure you work on your "not so good" parts.

We started by playing friendly game all over, especially zone 1. Kate said many people seem to bipass zone 1, perhaps because in the beginning the horses often don't like it much. She had us kneeling and playing friendly in zone 1 and also making sure we played friendly games with our horses legs, often the only time their legs get touched is for picking up, so make sure you spend time just being friendly in that area.

Friendly game is the most under-done game, and porcupine is the second most. So, we played a lot of porcupine next, again, especially zone one. If you think about it, zone 1 plays a big role in our riding but we seem to ignore it a bit on the ground.

One of Kates messages throughout the day was if we didn't have the patience to put in the basic foundation work, and spend a lot of time on it, then we had no business being out there with our horses.

When Kate worked with a horse, she seemed to spend a lot of time reading them and setting it up and waiting, they weren't flying around stressing out, but they weren't walking all over her either, they made changes in their mind, more subtle but I think just as important than with other people I've seen. One for instance was a horse that kept getting too close and trying to walk over her, she would just change the direction and suddenly the horse was way behind her, thinking "How did I get here?" after a few more times of this, he stayed at a respectful distance, and yet Kate hadn't had to resort to higher phases or anything.

Another concept was playing with the games and the equipment. Keep asking yourself "how many different ways can I play the friendly/porcupine/driving etc game in zone 1/2/3/4/5" We are working towards being able to play all seven games in all 6 zones, (but you don't just go out and try to do that all at once) The 7 games only get boring if we let them!

Just an aside that I picked up watching some lessons which Kate gave on the Monday. With Canter leads and changes, make sure your casual rein is really casual (arm straight, but don't force it (ie not rigid) and make sure you "speak to the horse's hind end" thats the reason for most cross-fires and incorrect leads, people haven't told the hind end whats going on!

If your horse is negative about any of the games or equipment, change his perception, if you are introducing the cherokee bridle (level 2) (this was done in the lessons, not in the clinic) play with it, don't always just stick it in your horses mouth, sometimes rub it over him, lead him by an ear etc etc don't allow them to assume. Another interesting idea was if your horse is rather anti the bridle from normal days or whatever, is to do lots of energetic groundwork or freestyle in the hackamore, put the bridle on and just sit and do friendly games. This really made sense for me as my levels mare isn't too keen on the bridle and instead of addressing this, I've just not used it much - only when I've wanted to ride concentrated (der!) hence I'm re-inforcing her negative connection witht the bit!

Both afternoons found us riding. My young horse decided to treat everyone to a good lesson in why we move our horses around after each girth adjustment. He'd been a bit sleepy in the afternoon sun on Saturday, and I don't think realised he was all girthed up (despite many "hugs" from the saddle and other preparation) I think I had the girth a little tighter a little sooner than usual and off he went! They weren't his real bucks - as a friend of mine said "You could drive a car under them" but they were substantial crow hops) he is still a bit of a bronc, although we are improving all the time! Anyway, after a few circles and jumps we were ready to hop on.

Most of what we worked on were the basics. Indirect and direct rein, focus exercises (pick a point and ride to it, then let your horse find comfort there). Kate was really keen on getting us to learn to ride really straight lines. We also did a slight variation on the ridden circling game. Pick an object to ride around and focus on, instead of stopping in the centre do a 1/4 turn indirect rein, ride thru' the centre then use a direct rein to start riding the other way. Perhaps a combination of this and the stopping-in-the-centre game would help stop a horse using the stop-in-the-middle as an evasion, and keep him thinking.

We also played quite a few games with a partner. Riding straight towards each other start shaking hands while our horses had their nose on the others tail (or as close as each would allow) then we went to riding straight towards each other and exchanging carrot sticks etc.. working on our straight lines and focus as well as the friendly game. (If you use approach and retreat with this, it can help a nervous horse get used to being close to other horses).

We also did this on the ground, backing between other horses (or donkeys) actually the person backing between the two donkeys always had fun, (you can imagine the horse going "oohh strange creature, get away from me, oh no! theres another one on the other side, I'm surrounded!") but the poor little donkeys were more frightened of the horses than the horses were frightened of them, even the smallest pony towered over the little things!

There was heaps of other things, but this is already getting long, lets see if I can summarise some of them:

If your horse is leaning on the hackamore/bridle in a direct rein turn, give 3 quick bumps (discomfort).

To truly relax and drop your life, blow out like a horse would (couldn't begin to write that sound down, but like they do when they've run a fair way and then they relax) I found this worked really well. Try it!

Make the tasks at each level a habit (ie the PNH way of saddling is there for a safety reason, don't just do it for your test).

Get handy with your tools - swinging and throwing your progress string on your carrot stick, pick a point when you are using your stick and string to play friendly game around your horse, and aim for that point so you get more accurate with your tools (this will help when you start to work at longer distances from your horse).

Direct rein must be higher than support rein, make sure your weight is to the outside of the turn.


Barb Apple began the day by speaking about how we communicate with our horses. "Communication through consideration" has become the premise for the foundation of natural horsemanship that Barb is sharing with her students. She touched upon the idea that we can affect our horse's actions by the way we think. A demonstration of this was the simple request for her horse "Rocky" to lower his head. With the slightest pressure on his poll, she looked and pointed to the ground and waited for the horse to take the suggestion without increasing the pressure. She took the time to "think" her request and gave the horse the chance to find the answer.

In the last five years, Barb has handled approximately 2,500 horses in the clinics she has taught. She mentioned that we should be kind to ourselves in our learning process. "It takes time to obtain these skills. Be patient with our horses. We are trying to help them become a little more solid in our society and vise versa." Barb also impressed the importance of teaching your horse to respect your personal bubble so you are more apt to stay safe if something spooks your horse. She impressed that when teaching your horse to stay out of your personal bubble, make the horse uncomfortable if he enters your bubble (such as allowing the horse to run into a sharp finger poke). However, do NOT invade your horse's space with a finger poke. This would create a sparring match (which is a no-win situation for the human).

Barb suggested that we learn the use of rhythm to affect our horse's gait. She asked people to first tune into our horse's rhythm, and then learn to ask your horse to match your rhythm such as posting faster to cause your horse to match your rhythm.

Barb helped horse and rider to become more particular about pivots. The human needs to learn to set the horse's weight back when asking for a pivot on the haunches. Learn to set the horse up to give you what you want. "Consider where your horse's weight is - and where you need to be." Barb offered help in translating ground skills to riding. When asking for a yield on the ground, put your hand where your leg will be when you are in the saddle. Be aware that if your horse's body is stiff or "bracey," his mind is "bracey."

Barb explained we should be aware that disengagement of the hindquarters can be overdone - especially with horses that don't want to go forward. "Please don't disengage your horse to death." It's important to have lateral flexion separated from disengagement of the hindquarters. You don't want to teach your horse to move his feet until you put intent into your request (otherwise he'll move while you mount).

When driving your horse's hindquarters around, it's important to give your horse room. If you crowd your horse, he will feel defensive. When you keep your distance, it's not so threatening. At a distance you may find that you will get ears forward instead of a bad attitude. "Yes, you can move the hindquarters over OK by being up close, but you don't get the best mental attitude if you are crowding him. From a distance, you get more interest, undivided attention and respect."

Barb stressed the importance of learning where your horse's feet are on the ground. We need to learn this first on the ground or we don't have a prayer of knowing this while riding.

Barb explained a few interesting exercises to learn to match your horse's stride (and vice versa) to help tune into your horse. While on the ground try to match your horse's stride while walking next to him - forward and back. First match the horse's stride, then ask him to match yours. Try trotting along side your horse and then rest your hand on his withers and go with him.

Barb also offered tips to keep your "draw" when playing the circling game with a change of directions. "Don't disengage the hindquarters. Just ask for the horse to draw into you by catching his eye and run backwards in an arc, and then change directions. Don't disengage the hindquarters or you will ruin the draw."

Barb Apple has spent time with J.P. Giacomini (author of The Classic Dressage Master) and demonstrated the use of his "endostick" (which is an endorphin stimulator) and demonstrated its effects. It is essentially a short crop with a rubber ball attached to the end. This is bounced against the horse's muscles to cause relaxation. If you teach the horse to enjoy and relax with the bouncing, they will lower their head. This can be used while riding on a concentrated rein to help the horse lower his head and relax at the same time.

The students worked with a 12' rope and halter plus 22' ring rope around their horses' barrel. Many examples followed of what can happen and how to help the horse. Don't quit when horse bucks! Give release only when the bucking stops and then just let horse wear the rope without tension (circling).

Help was given to back your horse by the tail:

- Lay the 22' rope on his back and shorten it as support (to restrict forward movement), pick up the tail and use some rhythm in an up and down yo-yo movement. If the horse doesn't try, use a little back-up rein, and release with the try.

- You can also use the 12' rope laid over his back so it doesn't lie on the ground (putting unnecessary pressure on the halter). Try to back him up by the tail - using a jiggle in the rope as support.

Barb helped horse and rider when asking the front end over a step (turn on the haunches):

- Use a slightly indirect rein as your supporting rein and a direct rein in a higher position. This causes the weight to shift back and forward movement to be restricted. Use a short enough rein (have contact with mouth). Set up your reins as a framework; your leg activates the movement. Set it up and allow. When you get it, throw the reins down.

- Try backing up and counting when the front feet hit the ground and ask the front end over one step. In other words, as the left front foot hits the ground, ask for one step over to the right and vice versa.

Riders worked on haunches-in at a walk and a trot.

Riders rode across arena at a diagonal - sideways with forward movement. This was at a walk, trop and at a canter (striking the right lead when going to the right diagonal and vise versa).

Riders rode a perfect figure 8 made out of two circles - using a rope to divide the two circles. Time was spent on drop to a trop lead changes and working toward flying lead changes.

It was a pleasure to learn from Barb Apple for two days and I'm sure the riders and auditors benefited greatly.

By Lasell Jaretzki, Carol Coppinger lessons in Maine, L2 Lesson

Using the 22' line and carrot stick and string as needed, we started with obstacles Carol arranged up here and there in a large field, including:

- while standing behind a jump standard, circling our horse, disengaging hindquarters and backing the horse between two poles. I wish I had a way to diagram this.

- squeeze game over a jump and back

- yoyo back over a pole

- porcupine sideways while straddling a pole

- driving sideways while straddling a pole

- porcupine or drive sideways so horse ends up straddling a pole lengthwise, then walk off forward or backward while still straddling lengthwise the pole

- sit in chair and yoyo back between two empty soda bottles on the ground and forwrd again, then send around twice with circle and squeeze over two barrels on their sides set up directly behind (and off aways) where you're sitting in the chair, then disengage and send backwards through the two bottles again

- squeeze over a logs jump (series of upright 2' diameter logs side by side) while sitting in a chair facing away from the jump

Then we played the games with variations, again on 22' line (keeping the line touching the ground, acting as if it wasn't there, in preparation for Level 2 at liberty tasks).

- friendly with a large toy ball, including playing toss and catch over the horses' backs

- friendly with carrot stick and string, rhythmically whacking it on the ground and gently flogging the horse, from all zones

- porcupine from nose, backing in circles and curves, generally using that to get from here to there around obstacles and other horses, etc.

- porcupine zone 2 with stick, to move forequarters at least 1/2 circle

- porcupine zone 4 with stick, to move hindquarters full circle

- porcupine zone 3 to move sideways away from you

- porcupine from zone 5 to move forewards and then backwards

- drive from zone 3 while standing close to horse to move horse straight forward

- yoyo back and forth over a pole

- drive zone 4 to move horse toward you while you are running backward and horse is trotting toward you

- circle at the trot and change directions maintaining the trot

- friendly while you're standing on a raised object (chair, log, etc.) and drive horse sideways to you

Then we moved to some riding tasks, focussing on steering with eyes, belly button, legs, direct rein, carrot stick... looking to get a good reaching step sideways with the front, and looking to get that with lower and lower phases.

That's what I remember about what we did!

We're trying to get Carol back again and she's booked till spring! So we may subject her to Maine's muddy season in Y2K.

In my opinion, she taught us just the way we best be teaching our horses. With patience, humor, energy, good timing, instant positive feedback, and after giving us some clear direction, letting us think about it and discover for ourselves in those wonderful moments of AHA!

Games People (Horses) Play, By Elvira Lanham

Play soccer (leading the horses) or just throwing a ball around, the horses will start to hook on to the ball and its great mental and emotional fitness for everyone.

Hang those old-fashioned fly screens, the multi-coloured strips, off a tree and drive your horse through, then perhaps ride through (see an earlier, I think about one or two issues ago, Savvy issue with a great trail course in it).

Tarps on the ground, walk over, back over etc Make a "trailer" out of barrels over the tarp and drive your horse in then for level 2's get them to back into it.

Play the "bull". Either someone on the ground or on a horse with a carrot stick tries to poke their partners horse with the carrot stick in the hindquarters or the front end (like a bulls horns) the rider must do an indirect or direct rein to get out of the way. The "bull" can get tricky and come right up to the horse before deciding which end to go for. Good practice of your different reins, and good emotional fitness for horse and human.

Huge rubber bouncy balls. These can be bought from big toy stores they are enormous, Pat used them in his Savvy day, young horses especially like to play with them...

Tyres - large and small. See if you can get your horse to stand inside with front legs, hind legs, perhaps back in...

Friendly game with umbrellas, bags, cans with stones, plastic bottles with stuff, noisy toys.

Follow the leader over obstacles... Someone is the leader either riding or on the ground and everyone follows what they do, over things, going sideways etc....

By Darcy Boehm, Tournaments

The idea of a tournament is to measure where you are at. They are not meant to be competitive. You can go back later and do the tasks again and gauge your improvement. There is a time limit, 60 seconds per task-though it is not a race. The time limit is to test the positive reflex. There are no judges-only yourself.

We found it easiest to divide into groups of 3-4 people. That way you have somebody to keep time. You keep your own points. And everybody cheers for your accomplishments. You can also do as suggested in another post-remove points for swearing, poor sportsmanship, etc...

Rubber bands can be used to connect the lead rope and halter. I have incorporated them into some of the tasks. The tasks are not sold in concrete, and I may not be able to explain them in print well-as I have drawings to help with the patterns. I'll do my best. What I am hoping is that this will stimulate the imaginations so that you can take it and run with it. Just have fun!!!

Task 1.(Friendly Game)
with carrot stick and string, hit the ground as hard as you can six times as hard as you can in succession
5 pts if you hit the ground standing 12' in front of the horse at the end of the lead line
10 pts if you stand in zone 3 or further back
20 pts if you can do it on both sides
0 pts if the horse moves

Task 2.(Porcupine Game)
lead horse forward by the lip
5 pts for 6 ft
10 pts for 12 ft
20 pts if you can do it at the trot
0 pts if horse pulls head away

lead horse backwards by the tail
5 pts for 6ft
10 pts for 12 ft
20 pts if you can do it with one hair
Warning: Do not do this task if you are uncomfortable in Zone 5!

Task 3.(Driving Game)
drive horse in a figure 8 around two obstacles and back up
5 pts if you do it from zone 3
10 pts from zone 5
20 pts from zone 5 at a trot
You can use a carrot stick

Task 4.(Yo-Yo)
Sit in a chair and yo-yo your horse 4 times, try to maintain straightness
5 pts on 12' line
10 pts on 22' line
20 pts on 22' line with one rubber band
Options: over a log, between two cones

Task 5.(Circle Game)
Kneeling on the ground, send your horse in a circle to the right
5 pts-two circles
10 pts-four circles
20 pts-four circles at the trot
NO restarts!
50 pts-four circles, at the trot, with a rubber band

Task 6.(Squeeze Game)
Stand in one spot and send your horse across a tarp
5 pts-if horse passes between you and the tarp(left brain)
10 pts-if horse crosses the tarp one direction
20 pts-if horse crosses both ways

Task 7.(Sideways Game)
Sidepass horse along the fence, have a starting point and a finish point. The distance is 22'.
5pts-at a walk
10 pts-at a trot
20 pts-at a canter

(PS-I know the sideways game comes before the squeeze game)

Task 8.
Saddle horse without crossing the line. The horse is on one side of the line, you are on the other.
5 pts-if you saddle from the left side
10 pts-if you saddle from the right side
20 pts-if you do not use the halter or lead rope

Now-take a moment to adjust your saddles so that you can ride safely. The remaining tasks are under saddle.

Task 9. (Horse is saddled, you are on the ground)
mark out a box 22' x 22'
Drive the hindquarters in a full circle, and then the forequarters in a full circle. Stay within the box
5 pts-with halter and lead rope
10 pts-if done at liberty
20 pts-if done from both sides

Task 10. (while mounted)
Show a neutral, indirect, direct rein
5 pts-one side
10 pts-both sides
20 pts-with a carrot stick

Task 11. Mark out a 44' diameter circle. Trot two circles to the right, trot through the middle, switch lead rope to other side, trot two circles to the left. Stop in the middle and back up.
5 pts
10 pts-with a carrot stick
20 pts-with Cherokee bridle

Task 12. Jump a 1-2 foot jump
5 pts-in a saddle, two reins
10 pts-in saddle, two carrot sticks
20 pts-bareback, reins or carrot sticks

Task 13. Ride your horse sideways over a pole(s)
5 pts-for 12', with two reins
10 pts-for 12' with two carrot sticks
20 pts-for 22' with two carrot sticks
Option:use cherokee bridle

Task 14. Mark out a 44' circle and a 12' runway connected to the circle.
Start in the runway, 12' away from circle.
Cross the circle at a trot and stop in the circle
5 pts-at a trot, bend to a stop
10 pts-at a trot, nine step back up
20 pts-at a canter-bend or backup to stop

Task 15. While in zone 5, use game 2 to back your horse up straight
10 pts-for 6'
20 pts-for 12'

Remember to time each task. Also try not to get frustrated. This is not a test-it's an evaluation of your positive reflexes. This is to help you find out where you are at in a fun environment. Go back in a month or two and try it again to measure your improvement.

By Richard Robbins, FreeStyle Riding

Prereq: 7 games on the ground (based on PP's video tape)

I. Pre-flight check (horse saddled)
A. Game 1 w/stick & string
Hit ground on both sides of horse
Toss string over horse
B. Game 2 w/stick
C. Game 3 w/stick
Complete turns
Move hindquarters
Move front-end
D. Toss rope over head - both directions
E. Lateral flexion - both directions
F. Rope over & around back legs (do both sides)
Bend neck & step away
Continue to push front end around
Rub to stop
G. Game 5 (circle) in both directions
Do visual check of tack
Note horse's mood of the day

II. Mount procedure
A. Mount (from either side)
Push & pull to check horse's balance
Hand on rein & mane
Foot in stirrup
Other hand on horn area
Eye & bellybutton toward horse's eye
Stand in stirrup and wait
When horse is still, ask permission & swing leg over
B. Wait (30-60 seconds)
C. Lateral flexion (both sides)
D. Indirect rein (both sides)
E. Repeat indirect rein and add direct rein to complete turn

III. Riding with halter and 1 rein
A. Flip rope over head at halt, walk, trot, & canter
B. 4 phases of go (or to increase speed):
1. Energy up & focus
2. Smile
3. Squeeze
4. Rope on rump
C. 4 phases of whoa (or to decrease speed):
1. Quit riding
2. Lift rope
3. Hand down rope 3x
4. Bend
D. Ride along fence (both directions) w/rope on fence side
Keep horse next to fence
Do full turns using indirect to direct rein
E. Trot Practice (both directions)
Post, stand, bounce, sit
Bend to walk
Half turn to inside using direct rein
Practice focus with eyes, bellybutton, torso, etc.

IV. Riding with halter, 1 rein, & stick
A. Support rein turns
1. Rein (4 oz max)
2. Leg
3. Stick
4. Stick w/contact
B. Direct rein turns
C. Stick only (no rein)
Eyes, bellybutton, leg, stick
D. 2 sticks
One opens door (points); other closes door

V. Passenger riding (walk, trot, canter)
VI. Riding with hackamore and 2 reins
- inside hand in middle of reins (at buckle)
- switch hands back & forth
- drop reins on neck & pick up w/alternating hands & without looking at reins
- at trot - lift reins and alternate running hand down & up
- slow to walk - quit riding & lift reins; when walking, drop reins on neck
- full turn at rail - indirect to direct rein
- half turn to inside (from rail) - direct rein
- walk to trot - lift reins w/straight arm, smile, etc. w/ other arm toward rump

VI. Dismount from either side
Look in eye and step * way off; practice up & down
Slide off

VII. Ride with bareback pad
A. Mount
1. Foot on helpers knee
2. Ankle boost
B. Passenger lesson - use hand hold
Helper plays the 7 games while holding rope


Rope Handling 45' line:
Make coils the size of dinner plates (Texas dinner plates, not California dinner plates ;))

Yoyo - backing out:
Quit when going back, not when they're doing something else
If its not working, go to another game to get respect
Helicopter with the carrot stick and string at the nose; shorten up the line first
Let the horse sit at the end of the line (comfort)
Level III should back fast, weight on back end
If it gets crooked on one side, use a fence
Important to have two eyes
The better they back, the better they stop
Purpose is to get the whoa equal to the go

Yoyo - coming back to you at a trot (22' line):
Have the horse facing you, and use the carrot stick and string on both sides of the horse (slap ground or touch Zone 3); keep the horse between 10 and 2 o'clock, so that the horse and energy are in a 'V' and you are at the apex; go halfway down the line before you start, and run backward a little; all this is to encourage the trot toward you
You are the comfort; if it took him a long time to find comfort, then let him stay with you a long time
Phase one is to ask, with carrot stick at side; work for low phases and finesse

Snappy departures are really important; offer phase one a little longer and go to phase four a little quicker
Take a big step when you lead/lift/swing
Try to get the horse to leave at the canter
Be sure the horse is giving you two eyes when you go to send
Afterwards, play Friendlies in close so that you don't lose draw (remember friendly hand is the hand close to the horse)

Online makes them calmer, liberty makes them smarter, freestyle makes them braver, and finesse makes them more athletic

Circling with the flank rope:
The ring on the 22' line should be coming from under the belly

Riding the yoyo with carrot sticks:
When backing, get short between the hip and shoulder
Use small upward circles with the stick to get the back up
Variation - use carrot stick while standing still just to get a bend of the neck
Focus forward while sitting back
Get more effective with sticks - touch the zone one when backing! Don't NAG (lose respect)
Best not to use legs at all when backing but never behind the drive line

Lead changes with carrot sticks:
If horse gets impulsive, bring him into several circles (and keep trotting) to bring him down (remember trotting around the barrel)
SIT BACK when you ride, or you won't get it
If the horse gets going, go back to II and stop with sticks along the fence
Don't let the horse outfocus you!
End with a back up
Shut him down before he runs off
Don't lean into the lead changes as you bring him back down!!
Don't kick - use the stick on Z4
Focus and shut him down early
Get effective, instead of nagging at phase 3
Tie reins with string to saddle if you don't have a saddle horn to loop over

Soft feel:
Back Z4 into a fence
Close ALL fingers
Focus straight out
Elbows in hips, hands high
Long focus, with seat pockets glued to seat of saddle (sit back and down!)
Horse will break and poll if you keep the reins short!

Monkey riding:
Object is to teach horse to carry himself in the frame at a walk, trot and canter, vertical flexion
Elbows out, knuckles down on the withers, hands locked, leg is back, reins SHORT
Don't overdo it or you'll overload front end; do it just a short time
If you lose impulsion, go back to freestyle
You are not pulling the horse's head in; you are letting him find the place where its soft

Driving with halter and 22' line:
Eventually you could even get flying lead changes like this if you really got good
If his head is low, get impulsion better
Start with the halter before using the bit
Puts the horse into frame on the ground

Flying lead changes:
If they don't get the change in back, go faster and tape Z4
Freestyle = horse changes in front first; finesse = horse changes in back first
Good sideways game is critical; diagonal trot & canter
Lean out, not in - PUSH
Preparatory exercise = ride sideways along fence, then back and let him sit; do the sideways with energy (work up to trot sideways, with stick) (?? Sidepass = go straight and look the way he's going; sideways = look opposite direction he's going and bend; confusing)
Get control of the hindquarters (most people just ride the front end of the horse)
Preparatory exercise #2 = ride to fence and TROT sideways, with ounces in reins and (if necessary) pounds in leg; lighten leg by using string and stick; work up to cantering sideway

Back ups:
Using a concentrated rein, canter to the fence and back up straight; talk to Z4 to get life up; give dwell time in between trips
Try using your feet on horse's elbows instead of so much rein
Get somebody to wave stick/bag in horse's face
Pairs game = ride toward each other, stop and back back to the start (looks like chicken on horseback); let them dwell; lean back when you stop to try to get the horse to sit down a little
Get flexion - set up and ask for soft feel
When you back, riders shoulders should get closer to hips

Flying changes at liberty in the round pen:
Its about draw, send and hindquarter yields
When doing "stick to me", keep your hand on your hip with your shoulder out; the horse should be right up with you
For a lead change, the person has to do a slingshot - run back fast and fly forward
Spiral back to bring the horse in, but run straight back to get the lead change
Preparatory = Do hindquarter yields and wait for horse to put you on the other eye/side
Take a big step on the send
You need two eyes when he comes to you
If he drags the back, use the carrot stick on the ground

Yielding hindquarters off track:
Use short concentrated reins and long focus
Start by getting the horse off track a little at the walk (leg back) and then let go
This is NOT an indirect rein, the reins hardly do anything
Life's up
Doesn't have to be exaggerated
DONT tip the horse's head; keep looking in the direction he's going
Don't hold it too long
It comes off the leg
Keep the wrist straight (straight line from shoulders to bit, with small bend in elbow); CLOSE ALL FINGERS
With a concentrated rein the small of your back should be upright; Have to have the reins short
Sideways is with a straight body, off track is with a bent body
Preparatory exercise (also for flying changes) = Trot to fence, trot sideways, back up and dwell; keep the hindquarters straight; then canter to fence, canter sideways, back up and dwell; (To set up for flying changes, change direction = canter right to fence and go sideways left); Have to be able to move the hindquarters across without running through the front end for a lead change.

By Elvira Lanham, Level 3 Report:

The Workshop was entitled Finesse Riding, and basically thats what we did for nearly 7 hours! After a brief turn of being "horse" and "handler" in Jumpstart, we got our horses ready to be ridden straight away.

Not sure if this is the order we did everything, but I'll do my best. We started off with Gait regulation ie Getting the first part of the Finesse part of Level 3 going. Dave commented that many people had a lot of trouble with getting enough definition between slow, medium and fast paces, particularly at walk and canter.

We started at walk, a lot of this stuff is just learning to get the "feel", which doesn't come across too well on email :), but I'll write down some of the things that helped.

For slow walk, get your body "walking" slowly, slow the horse with your seat, not the reins. Dave said the examiners want to see a difference between your gaits, the speed will depend on the horse, but there should be a marked difference.

To get fast walk, start off on a casual rein, make sure your life is "up", really ride somewhere, and swing your reins from side to side, exaggerating what actually happens when your horse walks fast (if you're not sure what I mean, check it out next time your horse is walking home from a trail ride, when he's really walking out, and the rein is casual, it swings). When you try this on a concentrated rein, make sure you push your hands forward for the fast walk.

The hardest part of the canter section is getting a slow canter, Dave suggested lots of simple changes (and got us to go do them), this reeeaaally helped my horse with getting a good finesse canter, full stop, and yes, it did get really slow (which was awesome when you are riding a horse that tends on the impulsive side!)

Dave also said about collecting them up, that you should start with the reins short, you can always let them out, but don't get into the habit of picking up a bit of rein and then having to shuffle it up as you go!

Next thing was an extension of the jumping we'd been doing the day before, just over a single barrel, using Pat's "butterfly" technique. Dave said he'd noticed at Badminton that some of the riders had started using it a bit (don't know where it originated from?) and they were doing better than those not using it.

If you have been to a recent Savvy day, you may have seen Pat demonstrate it, basically you approach the jump sitting upright and on a concentrated rein (start with a really small jump) then allow the horse to take the reins out of your hands by bringing them up and making "donuts" of each hand, then spread your hands out wide and collect the reins back up, once your over. I found this hard, I kept doing it before my horse had taken the reins out of my hands, and stuff like that. If you do this correctly, you don't need to lean forward at all, you just allow your body to go with the horse.

Next, we went on to more sideways, working up to half-pass type things, trying it at trot and canter. Use a carrot stick as support for your sideways, and use rhythmic pressure, start softly and build up, don't be tempted to just whack your horse if he's not responding (I was tending to do that, especially with pressure to perform in front of instructor, but I went away and just tried softly building up the rhythmic pressure, and hey presto, sideways at trot!) Another thing to watch here is to make sure you are sitting erect.

Another thing we did (I think before the Jumping!) was quarters in. Keep your hands straight, look ahead, and put your leg back, start at walk and build, be careful not to over do it, you can have too much angle. I believe Dave said the angle should be about 30 degrees, but I'm not sure, maybe someone who has completed level 3 can double check on that??

We then went on to do some counter canter (I think lunch happened sometime in there, although we were all getting pretty hot and tired, it was hard to keep track!) Dave gave a great demo of this on Steve Halfpenny's horse that he rode for the weekend. He started on the inside lead then went to the counter loop and made it bigger than the initial one. He suggested doing this in a really big area to begin with and make the counter loop MUCH bigger. Focus where you are going, but have yourself on the lead you want your horse on, ie inside leg back, and be "cantering" with the outside hand (just a little movement, in time with the leading leg).

That was it for what we did that day, but Dave showed us a few little things at the end. We talked about the kite string task in lvl 3, he said make sure you use something thin, not bailing twine, your horse shouldn't be chewing on it, and the assessors want to see correct riding dynamics (eg pushing your turns, direct rein above support rein) the kite string goes straight through the horses mouth, not tyed up like the cherokee bridle.

Rocking your horse. This task involves getting your horses body weight to move forward backwards, left and right. Dave said this tests your impulsion, horse shouldn't move his legs, just as an aside, tape it from the side so the assessor can see.

I've found that I'm doing things I'd never done before easily, my horses impulsion has improved heaps, there is nothing like a clinic to kick start you into progressing again.

After "Jumpstarting" ourselves again despite a few moans from the mature members of the group, We started with Liberty. As you know, I'd been having troubles with the lead change and change of direction. Dave brought my horse in to be guinea pig after working with one other with the same problem. After doing a couple of nice draws at the trot we went to canter and put a bit of pressure on her with the draw (Dave put some pressure on us by dragging whoever was the guinea pig back at a million miles an hour to try to get the change!) He commented that after putting the pressure on her, she was unable to maintain the canter in the small round yard, whereas when she first came in and was calm she could canter easily around there!

I found that very interesting because I had never thought that when they got rattled they would actually have more trouble going faster. We didn't get the lead change, we had to wait until my friend Sharon and her quarter horse came in to see about 3 lovely ones done! Dave told me much as most of the people that replied to my post said, get the draw really good and teach her to handle a bit more pressure and the lead changes won't be a problem. As Dave said "she's really trying to do the right thing, she just doesn't understand yet". He said that about several horses during the weekend, even ones that you may have thought were being obnoxious, taking that view sure helps you to develop the patience you need.

Another thing I remember now that I sit here was his discussion of how going to the next level in the program brings on the feeling of a new incompetence, just when you start to think you are pretty good because you've got a few things going well in level 1 & 2 you go to the next level and its like everything just falls apart. Apparently this is common for every level. On the positive side, he kept saying to us all weekend "You think this is fun, wait until you start doing the things you'll be able to do after you get Level 3!"

After some round pen work, we played the now famous "find your human game". Here about 6 people at a time took their leads off and just walked/trotted around, played the games etc and if there horse chose to leave, others in the group had to chase the horse back to their human. The more times that happened the stronger the bond you create with your horse. I'd done a lot of this in our paddock at home and my horse chose to stay with me which was great, but we spent most of the time chasing other horses back. At one stage it looked like a little herd was forming and Dave had a few "lucky" people get in there to break it up. Its a lot harder to convince a horse to come back to its human if its found a buddy or two to hang out with! Actually, I was talking to my friend who audited the clinic and she said at this point that Dave let the cool, laid back demeneanour slip a bit and called out in frustration "DO SOMETHING PEOPLE!" I guess what he says is true, we haven't even got to kindergarten until we get level 3

After everyone had a turn with that, we went back on line and did some driving from zone 4 & 5 with the 22 ft lead attached to the halter and all the way around, like a long-line (some of you may have seen Phillipa Richards with a big black horse on video or at a Savvy Day doing this - they are pretty specky at it).

Some of the horses coped well with this, others were fine with the circling game, but when they were asked for sideways (when you really put the pressure on and it looks like it probably feels pretty claustrophobic) they didn't handle it too well. (My horse cut her leg while we were trying to get out of the way of a horse having a big problem with this!) I guess I should add at this stage that if you see any of this stuff,(or read about it on FOCUS :) ) don't be tempted to try it until you are at that point in the levels program "Follow the program" was another of Dave's mantras that weekend. It took a while for my horse to get the idea of this stuff, and a year ago, before getting level 2 we would have had no hope!

Anyway, back to the weekend. The main points for this driving from zone 4 & 5 is to give clear direction and to stay well out of zone 5 until your horse gets the idea, (they tend to back away from the pressure and they do it fast and right-brained, being behind them in that mode wouldn't be wise I don't think!).

The riding part on Sunday started with getting our sideways and backwards better. Walk up to a fence on a casual rein, pick up a concentrated rein ask for sideways along the fence then back up and stop and rest. Then try at trot and canter. This sets it up to get the canter half-pass with a flying change and improves the things you need the most for everything.

A couple of people then showed us some really nice finesse flying changes, you could see how basically it was just getting the sideways good so you could push slightly sideways one way, then just at the right moment, change your focus and push sideways the other way, and presto, flying change!

The whole weekend was about setting yourself and the horse up for success. Every little exercise was designed with one of the level 3 tasks in mind, but you started with an easy little task that you could build on until you could do the actual movement. Here was I just going out and trying things out of nowhere, although you know not to be direct line, with no notes or anything for level 3 you do feel a bit at sea, this clinic really got me thinking laterally again and looking for ways to set it up for success.

The next game was really just an extension of things you do in level 1. Pick a focus (eg fence, tree etc) and toward it. Allow it to stop your horse, then use the 9 step back up to back away from the object for the "rebound" effect, then stop and relax. Ideally you should get your horse starting to put lots of effort into his stops. WHat happens is he does that for a while and then starts slowing down before the object. If that happens, start to ride right up to the object, then change your focus and ride off in a different direction (be sure to ride right up to the object, don't cut the corner or you will teach your horse to do that). Dave emphasised keeping the heart and desire in your horse, change things around for him, don't drill him.

While everyone was practicing that, we did a bit of a jumping exercise, should have been easy but it wasn't. With one single barrel laying on its side, we had to walk up, stop, pick a focus way out and get our horse to jump then back up and put his hindquarters on the barrel. I did it first and my horse sort of jumped around the barrel, so I had to get serious about focusing! Other peoples horses thought it was the large rubber ball we'd been playing "cowboy polo" with the day before, so they kept trying to roll the barrel away!

That was it for the actual clinic program, but as I said, we had a Workshop with most of the clinic participants the next day, so I'll write about that soon!

Caroline already talked about one of my favourite PNH sayings that Dave repeated on the weekend Expect a lot, Accept a little, Reward often.

To me, one of the secrets to success in the program is balancing what seem to be extremes or opposites. I mean you should make the exercises a program, but you should also put in a lot of variety and challenge yourself and your horse each session, but don't overface yourself or your horse, follow the program. It seems it is very easy to either drill your horse too much or over face yourself. I guess its like Pat says Too much consistency lacks variety, but too much variety lacks consistency (???) He seems to say it better, but you know what I mean! I find this one of the hardest things to get right.

By Elvira Lanham, L3 with Dave Stuart

We started each day off ala Pagosa Springs with "Jump Start" (no horses) trying to keep 3 light soccer-type balls in the air, joining hands and keeping the balls in the circle, then later on Monday (had a Workshop straight after the clinic) we partnered up and one person was the horse, one the handler, you then had to teach your "horse" the 7 games and then the horse had to shut its eyes while we the handlers took them over Dave's dice-with-death obstacle course. It was a real eye opener (no pun intended) I was the handler and I think I went ok, my "horse" told me afterwards she could see why my real horse was so gentle, but I actually felt really bad because I allowed her to trip over a few things and didn't guide her properly through some things, made me really think about setting my horse up for success and guiding her properly and perhaps more assertively at times. If you want to "walk a mile in your horses shoes" grab a friend and try this!

On Saturday, after the human games we started with some 45 foot line stuff. The first thing was learning to roll the darn thing up, they have a mind of their own, I'm sure watching us all struggle gave the auditors a laugh! We then played around with "helicopter" backing, that is, using your carrot stick and string as phase 4 to get more impulsion in the back up. You aim at zone 1 with the end of the string. Dave emphasised that you need different techiques for different lengths of rope, the 4 phases you use for yo-yo on a 12 ft line just don't work on a 45ft line. The horse is too far away, and even using your whole arm has little effect.

We then went onto circling with it, and Dave concentrated on getting us to improve the send, in order to improve the allow and the bring back. He also got us to check out our position when we ask for the send, make sure you take a big step in the direction you want to go and that there is some feel in your rope when you give direction. He reminded us that there should be ounces in our direction and pounds in our support. I'd found with my limited previous experience with the 45 ft that my horse tended to go a bit right brain, I asked about this and he said to do plenty of disengagements and change directions and to use uneven ground so the horse had to watch where it was going. A funny thing happened though, by getting the send better (I had been being too quiet and letting her leave rather lazily) I didn't get the right brain reaction in the allow! So sometimes it really comes back to getting the basic send allow and bring back better, and the other problems you think are more complex actually just go away!

Next came the flank rope, which I'd done a bit with, which I was glad of, as we were doing it in about a 30 acre paddock! None of the horses seemed to worry too much, a few bucking episodes but they calmed down pretty quickly and got the idea. Dave just wanted us to have our horses circling happily, just playing the friendly game with the 22 ft rope, but he said you could play all 7 games with it. He also reminded us that if something went wrong, we should drop the 22 ft rope, not the 12 ft!

Then it was time to get on, he basically allowed us to warm ourselves and our horses up and we started with my least favourite part of the ridden section the carrot sticks! He started in this section, but he repeated it often over the weekend that we need to make our training into a program and that we need to do what we know. He told us we should ride with one or two carrot sticks every time for 3-4 weeks. I sure felt like my carrot stick riding could improve! We were doing simple lead changes with them, although I spent a long time just getting comfortable in trot and canter, but lots of people were changing all over the place. I resolved to do some carrot stick riding each time I ride, so far I've kept it up, but we'll see. Dave said he gets "carrot stick elbow" he loves the thing, takes it mustering cattle etc... I guess that's the difference between those guys and us mere mortals, they seem to love doing even the yukky bits!

I think what came next was Monkey riding. For those of you who haven't seen this done, basically you stand in your stirrups and pick up a concentrated rein, stick your elbows out and your fists into your horses neck, just above their shoulders (get someone to show you if you've never done it, its hard to explain) You then ride around like that, you should use indirect reins to turn, so you don't take your hands off your horse. It teaches them to travel on a concentrated rein, don't do too much, because you have quite a bit of weight on the forehand and you don't want to teach them to weight that area. It helps them develop some self carriage in finesse.

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