You can check back frequently with the Parelli 7 Games as we work together.
The 7 Games fall into two categories:
Purpose Games and Principle Games.
1. Friendly Game
This is the MOST important game to play. Take the time it takes so it’ll take less time.
The friendly game comes in many forms. It’s used to teach your horse to be confident in himself, his surroundings, and in you. You want him to look at you for the answer and stand still for whatever you bring into his bubble. I would encourage you to play this game in every way imaginable and strive for excellence. The more you play this the more confidence and trusting your horse will become which will be very important as you go up the levels.
Observe your horse. Start when approaching him. Allow him to sniff your hand before touching him. Keep your approach confident but friendly. Be sure to use rhythm, relaxation & retreat. If your horse is uncomfortable with something, back off (retreat). Once your horse is comfortable with you touching him all over (with the rope, Savvy String, Carrot Stick, and eventually your hand), you’re ready to move on to the next game.
Your horse can’t learn if he is in the fright or flight mode. Whether you are touching him or using movement around him, always wait for the lick, blink, soft lips, limp tail, etc. no matter how long it takes.
If your horse is blinking, he’s thinking. If he’s not, he’s hot.
Remember to smile. Smiling is a big part of my life. We are drawn to people who smile. So why wouldn’t a horse find confidence in you and in what you’re teaching him? Smiling will relax you and when you are relaxed you are less likely to look like a predator.
2. Porcupine Game- Direct pressure
Anything that has direct pressure on your horse is the Porcupine Game. The purpose is to teach your horse how to move away from pressure or a ‘feel’. Naturally a horse will move into pressure. It’s very important to start with a rub and end with a rub.
Having polite but effective phases will communicate your actions clearly to your horse. Remember Phase 1 – Suggest, Phase 2 – Ask, Phase 3 – Tell, and Phase 4 – Promise.
Be aware if your horse is escaping you. To test this, slow your moves down until you can get him to shift his weight then ask for just one step at a time and see if he can stay connected with you.
3. Driving Game- Rhythmic pressure
We see horses in a herd play this game all the time. A horse will pins his ears at another horse and the other horse moves away. Sometimes it’s just the slightest movement of the ear. This is how we want our horses to move away from us…with us suggesting his movement.
Try to think of your energy bursting out of your belly and your personal bubble pushing on his. Move your horse with your energy before picking up your stick. Be assertive but don’t use aggression. Your energy should be Phase 1. It’s very important to use rhythm in the movement. Inhale before you start and ALWAYS exhale when you are done.
Do less sooner rather than more later.
Try not to touch your horse. Your goal in the driving game is to teach your horse how to move away from your signal instead of direct pressure. This will become very helpful when doing liberty and your horse is at a distance away from you. You should be able to drive your horse forward, backwards, left and right.
4. The Yo-Yo Game
This game balances backwards and forwards movements while developing straightness. After you have a good Friendly, Porcupine and Driving game then you can move on to the Yo-Yo. It’s very important the games are taught in order. Your goal on this game is to have your horse move back with the slightest movement of your finger pointing at him and with your eyes beaming beyond his hindquarters.
When backing your horse try keeping the belly of the rope on the ground to a desired amount and then bring him back. The better your horse backs up, the better he’ll do everything else.
Try backing your horse over a pole, through a gate, or under a tarp keeping him straight the entire time.
5. The Circling Game
Parelli Principle # 4 is: Horse and humans have mutual responsibilities. The horse’s responsibilities are to:
- Don’t act like a prey animal
- Maintain gait
- Maintain direction
- Watch where they are going.
This game will help teach your horse his responsibilities. The difference between the circle game and lunging is he must stay focused on you in the circle game and listen to what you’re asking while lunging is a mindless circle.
There are three parts to the circle game. The send, allow and bring back. You want a speedy departure, and a good allow and bring back. When you are in the allow part of the game, remember to let him commit to the mistake before you ask again.
6. The Sideways Game
If your horse knows how to play games one through five then he is ready for the sideways game. If you have trouble with sideways then something is missing from one of the prior games. Because the sideways motion causes your horse to think it’s a good game to play when your horse gets excited. It will also teach him to lift his body which will increase his athletic ability. It will prepare him for side yields and more advanced moves like lead changes, spins, roll backs, and more.
The better your horse moves sideways, the better he’ll do everything else.
7. The Squeeze Game
This is the last game to teach your horse. Remember if your horse hasn’t mastered the other games, do not try this one. If he has, then you are ready to play the squeeze game. This game will help your horse to overcome their natural claustrophobic tendencies. They will avoid confined spaces if they feel trapped. This game will teach your horse how to become more confident in narrow spaces. It’s very important to release when your horse shows the slightest try.
Ultimately you want your horse to ask the question when to stop moving before, during and at the end of the squeeze.
This will help build confidence in trailer loading, jumping, crossing streams, gates, stalls, ramps, bridges, and more.