After returning home from the 2-day Parelli event I was all fired up to help Jayden, my four year old left brain introvert (with a couple right brain tendancies) learn to deal with stimulus in Zones 4 & 5. Jayden is my new Parelli partner but he is also my new all-around show partner on the Paint circuit. Having come from a non-natural backgroud and now a Parelli convert, it is so important to me that he feel comfortable with everything I will ask of him: standing still to saddle, clipping, loading, shoeing, going new places etc. I definately want showing and traveling to be fun and I always try to put the relationship first.
We had a big show coming up (his first) and he tends to want to scoot forward if something comes up behind zone 5 or from either side of zone 4 that he hasn't already had a good look at. Because th warm-up arenas can be PACKED with horses coming and going, this can be a problem and un-nerving for a "green" horse (one that hasn't had a whole lot of experience). To help him, I decided that I would do a 7-day course of playing with the big green Parelli ball (focusing on all zones) really with the intent to help him overcome his fear of anything coming up behind him in zones 4 & 5.
Each day I worked would start boucing the ball while walking away from him...always ecstatic to see that although at first weary, he would quickly become curious and begin to want to follow me and the bouncing ball. Once he realized he could touch it and roll it for himself he couldn't get enough of it! He would try to bite it and push down on it.
I decided to let out the 22 foot line and play driving game, and to see if he would walk into the ball on purpose on his way to whereever we were going. It was great to see his confidance soar and his curiosity peak as to what he could do with the ball and YES, he did choose to seek out the ball on our way.
After he got comfortable with touching it with his nose, I started boucning it around all zones on his body. I made sure to let out the line if he got nervous and retreat to build his confidance. Not too long after, I could bounce it directly behind zone 5 as hard as I could and he didn't budge. Not only that, but I could simulate saddling (swinging the saddle side to side) with the ball and resting it on his back. Once that was no longer an issue, we moved to me actually bouncing the ball off him, he LOVES IT!
The end result...he was not nearly as sensitive with zones 4 and 5 this weekend as he used to be. His relaxation in the arena was apparent and he did wonderful!
Out of all the things that make me smile at the shows, I saw two people with Parelli equipment patiently working with their horses in the warm-up arena's this weekend! It's wonderful to see that the message of being natural is finally making it's way into the show ring.
Thanks to Pat & Linda for teaching us how to be at one with our horses!
Until next time...happy trails!