Jenny Pearce

A powerful improvement to the Parelli Friendly Game

Whether you are into natural horsemanship or not – even if the idea of natural horsemanship makes you cringe –  the Friendly Game, the rhythmic advance and retreat method of getting your horse used to routine things that they might find either scarey or uncomfortable, is probably one of the best things that you can do with your horse.

The friendly game is about starting from a place where the horse is OK with whatever it is that you are doing, which is about starting from a place of comfort.    Then in some kind of rhythmic way, gradually get closer and closer to what the horse was NOT comfortable with, retreating rhythmically back to the starting point – and repeating that until the horse is comfortable with the whole thing.

I used the Friendly Game with my horse Bobby and many others, to get them to stand still, and put up with, and get used to, all kinds of things like hands, ropes, halters, saddles, rugs, plastic bags, stock whips, umbrellas, motor bikes, prams, bicycles, cars, feet trimming, worm drenches in the mouth – all of which is a fabulous thing to get a horse comfortable with.

If you use the Friendly Game to work a horse’s comfort zone and help them understand their environment without fear – then the Friendly Game is a beautiful thing and by far the most useful thing you will ever do with your horse.

Now here’s the critically important part and I cannot emphasise this too much.  I used it with Bobby especially, to get him to stand still while I did a whole heap of stuff like cracking stockwhips, rattling plastic bags, etc.  With the priority first on standing still, then on getting him used to and be quiet with, whatever it was that I was doing.

Having the priority as getting them to stand still while we do stuff to them, is where we can seriously stuff up our horse emotionally and mentally.  When we don’t allow them to move when they are afraid, they only have two choices – blow up or shut down mentally and emotionally.  Bobby and many, many other horses that I have seen, shut down mentally and emotionally.  Which can come across as being a quiet horse for a while, but later on it caused big resistance with Bobby and all sorts of other problems too.

Back in those days, I was carrying so much nervousness and sometimes outright fear, that if I had thought about it, knowing that I was shutting my horse down into a quiet, obedient, automaton, may well have appealed to me as being a good deal.

But not now that I know a better way…

Seeing how much damage I did to Bobby’s mind and emotions and how much this was a source of his resistance to me, I feel sad that I did that to him.  I have spent quite a lot of time using the philosophy and processes described in Zen Connection with Horses , to reverse the damage that I did.

You can avoid my mistakes and make the Friendly Game an opportunity for a powerful improvement to you and your horses confidence and happiness together, by following some of these tips to dramatically improve and speed up the results of the Friendly Game:

  • Think about why you are doing it, what you are doing the Friendly Game for.  I came to the conclusion that I do it FOR my horse, to help him or her live their normal life free from all the things that scare them.  When I really looked at it, I was stunned at how many routine things my horses just put up with, but were not really comfortable about.  No wonder I had too often had this lurking feeling of nervousness!!!!
  • I also do the Friendly Game to make me and my horse safe under all kinds of circumstances, particularly when unusual things happen.
  • I use the feeling that I describe in Zen Connection with Horses that something is Not Quite Right, to tell me when to advance, when to retreat and when to stop and wait for The Chew.  This gives me brilliant timing.  If you want that knowledge and timing too, then you will love the audio lessons that are attached to the book  Zen Connection with Horses They lead you step by step through developing your sense that something is Not Quite Right and getting you into the habit of acting on it to make you and your horse safe and happy.
  • Waiting for The Chew (when the horse licks their lips and chews) is possibly the most important training time that you will ever do. Amongst the approach and retreat of the Friendly Game, I will often get the message of Not Quite Right to stop and wait for The Chew.  It gives my horse time to reflect on, process and understand what is happening – so that they can really have no fear and find a deep sense of comfort in us and what we are doing with them.
  • Using my feeling that something is Not Quite Right to tell me when to retreat and when to stop and wait for The Chew, has helped me make a bigger comfort zone for my horse, much faster.  Before I understood a better way of doing the Friendly Game, when I had my horse out of their comfort zone for longer than 2 minutes, I created a habit of anxiety and tension around whatever it was that I am working on.
  • I DO NOT any longer keep going until my horse keeps his feet still.  I stop and wait, whether I got what I wanted from my horse or not – and take all pressure completely off, standing away, not touching them, not petting them, not swinging a rope, not talking to them, just standing or sitting there in the grass, while my horse has a chance to process and understand what it is that I am wanting for him or her.
  • When I do that (stop and wait for The Chew), I eliminate the possibility of my horse just putting up with something that they really still dislike or are afraid of, just to shut me up – which is what I had done to Bobby.
  • When I do that (stop and wait for The Chew), and then advance and retreat again or even stop for the day if it was a really big deal and took a long time – my horse gains confidence incredibly fast.
  • When I do that (stop and wait for The Chew) – even if it feels like watching paint dry because it is taking so long for them to lick and chew – it is still much, much faster in the long run.

If you want this powerful improvement to the Parelli Friendly Game, then Zen Connection with Horses , with it’s book and audio lessons take you step by step to the most beautiful confidence with each other.

Click  here to buy Zen Connection with Horses with my personal “love this book or get your money back” guarantee .

If you haven’t yet registered for your completely free and totally awesome gift lessons The Six Keys to Happiuness with Your Horse, then click here to go have a look at them…


1 Comment

  1. Tamara Dingle 11/19/2011, 10:07 am Reply

    Thank you so much for this article as it has given me the oh yeah thing clicking in. I now have a very sensitve Arab who i am starting. This is a big culture shock for me . My old mare told me off and what to do and not to do this one is the complete opposite. He looks to me for what to do. Then when he has all the confidence he tells me what to do. Its great to have.

    Thank you
    Love Tamara

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