I recently took Destino to a "Play Day" in Victor MT. These are hosted by Ethan Zimmerman and Lori Roy, Level 3 Parelli Students. They have these play days 4 times a month, usually on a Saturday and Sunday, twice a month. They are directed at the Parelli way of playing with your horse. I enjoy the Parelli way for two reasons, one, I love how he breaks down the games into easy to understand training sessions, and two, these Play Days are VERY affordable and a whole day of Fun with fellow horse people.
I do have a problem with one thing in particular. Last weekend, I was told that horses don't speak English and don't understand what we are saying when we use verbal language. They ONLY understand body language. I understand this way of thinking, but just happen to be a person that believes that horses, animals as a whole, understand English way more than we give them credit for. Maybe they don't know that the sparkly things in our ears are "earings" or those red, flannel, pants, with the sheep on them, that I wear in the morning to feed, are called "Pajamas". I do believe that they are actually quite capable of understanding us with or without our body language.
Tonight I was working with Destino, who had taken it in his mind that he was going to run wildly around me, ignoring me and digging into the gravel deeper and deeper, going faster and faster. Very annoying to me, little old Two Legs here, who is absolutely NOT capable of running at those speeds even on a good day! Talk about jealous, I'm postively GREEN with it =)
So I brought him in to do some up close and personal work. There is a Parelli "game" called ThePorcupine Game. The object of the game is to ask the horse to move it's feet with the smallest amount of pressure that you can use. First you start by putting your fingers on the horse's side, touching only the air, if the horse doesn't move, then touch the hair, if the horse doesn't move, then touch the skin, if the horse doesn't move, then touch the muscle, if the horse doesn't move then touch the bone. Well... Destino normally will move away from pressure if I just point at his side. Tonight I had to practically PICK him up and MOVE him over! He just stood there, happily leaning into the pressure. The more I pushed the more he pushed. I was so intent looking at my fingers digging into his side, waiting for him to give the slightest movement sideways, he was happy to go on leaning on me...... Finally, a slight movement of his hind foot, sideways, phew!
Move forward in time to 30 minutes later, I decide to try the Porcupine game again. I move to his side, put my fingers up to touch the air, nothing, I look up over his back, in the direction that I want him to move, and touch the hair, he moved his hind feet perfectly, one crossing the other gracefully and smoothly. The main thing I want you to notice about this paragraph is that I LOOKED UP OVER HIS BACK, IN THE DIRECTION THAT I WANTED HIS FEET TO MOVE. In the paragraph before this one, I was intently LOOKING AT MY FINGERS PRESSING INTO HIS SIDE. Geesh! I wonder who was training who tonight!
Sometimes I wonder if I'm smart enough to train this horse, or if he will be training me the entire time.... LOL