I figured since Linda and Norma (the Daily Parelli blogger) are both hounding me personally about getting in better shape, I would try the catching game in our nice sandy arena even though it’s bigger than a round pen — it’s 70 by 80 feet. It meant a lot of walking on my part, which was, of course, the point.
I haven’t seen any official “how to play the catching game” material but the problem-solving DVD of Liberty & Horse Behavior has some good examples, so I tried to model my actions and read my horse based on what I saw there.
We played for about 45 minutes after our normal on-line session, and Rocky responded very much like the mare on the DVD. At one point he was standing still in the middle of the arena, ears and eyes glued to me but feet still, pivoting beautifully on his hindquarters to keep his hiney hid.
I made some mistakes, of course. Once I reacted too late and ended up tagging him just as he was starting to pivot to give me two eyes. Another time I had my bullhorn pointing at Zone 1/2 instead of Zone 5, thus blocking him from moving out of my way or looking at me.
But overall, it worked out well. He followed me some, watched me some, took his eyes off some too. by the end, he followed me willingly and I walked to the pedestal and sat down and gave him a cookie.
Not surprisingly, the more immediate I got with my release (turn and walk away when I get two eyes), the better everything went.
Pressure motivates. Release teaches.