Posts Tagged With: parelli patterns

Salsa performed his responsibilities right away

I took Salsa out for his second session of figure 8 pattern and circle game and wow did he impress us all.

The very first time I asked for a full lap of trotting circle, he gave it, jumping the pole with enthusiasm. He didn’t break gait, didn’t change directions, and looked where he was going. He also more relaxed in his halter and more aware about how my staring at his hiney means he can disengage and come in. When I asked for two laps, we went through a few one-and-somes but got to two full laps much sooner than it took us to get the one lap on the first day.

You’ll choose a Pattern to play, say the On Line Figure 8, and you’ll play that Pattern until your horse gets it. Could be for 5 minutes, could be a half hour. Depending on the Horsenality™ you’ll do the Pattern until your Left-Brain Introvert gets more motivated, your Right-Brain Introvert gets more trusting, your Right-Brain Extrovert gets more focused, your Left-Brain Extrovert gets more obedient. The 4-7 times are the different play sessions. So 4-7 days in a row or if you don’t play every day, it’s 4-7 play sessions ~  Savvy Club Q&A vault, discussing the Parelli Patterns blueprint for developing horses (and humans)

On the figure 8, when he broke gait, it only took a cluck-cluck to remind him to trot, no carrot stick necessary. He braces more on the figure 8 pattern than the circle but several times crossed through the middle with only my changing which hand held the rope and guiding zone 1 a little — no need for stick to back it up.

I added variety with some obstacles he already likes and is confident about, like all four feet on the pedestal, although backing until just his hind feet were on the ground was a challenge for him. I also set up a squeeze with upright barrels — taller than he is — and his challenge there was just the turn and face and wait. He wanted to turn and face and come stand by me. This was wonderful, as when we first rescued him he didn’t want to be near us at all.

I ended with the figure 8s and missed two opportunities where I could have released but didn’t catch the subtlety in time. The third time — a complete figure 8 offered, with only one little place of broken gait but it was while he asked a question — I brought him in and scratched him for a long time. Then I removed his halter in case he wanted a recess to gallop around or roll. Instead, he stayed with me, licking and chewing, relaxed, soft eyes, little ears pointed forward or slightly to the side at me.

The difference is as much in me as it is in him. That is, the progress I have made has opened the door for him to understand and enjoy the games and patterns. I’m more clear in my signals (believe it or not!), and more importantly, I’m more confident in what I’m asking for and whether he is into it. I stay with a request longer rather than panic that I’m insulting or hurting the horse and stopping lest I ruin the relationship. I know what it’s supposed to look like now, and can persist, and adapt, and experiment, and make mistakes, until I get there.

Do your thinking at night and your feeling during the day. ~ Pat Parelli

Categories: On-Line | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

Salsa Caliente is a hot pepper indeed

On Tuesday, I took Salsa out for an hour before hitting the road for a business trip. I applied the lessons I have learned recently from Pat’s segment on “the power of infinity” (Savvy Club DVD January 2011) and from playing with River, who did not already know to maintain gait and direction at canter.

Cutest pony feet straddling a pole

Cutest pony feet straddling a pole

I started with a walking figure 8 and had him go until he changed direction with just me switching my rope hand, without supporting with the carrot stick. Then we took a break on the pedestal as a reward, followed by some sideways at the fence — we are up to the goal of five strides before resting, and achieved it.

Back to the figure 8 for trotting the pattern. He did his usual trick of bracing against the halter, swinging his body to the outside so he’s trotting a little sideways and leaning on me like a Labrador on a leash between the truck and the lake. He also broke gait at the point of the circle opposite of me.

So I kept asking him to trot and kept asking him to figure 8 and kept asking him to trot and kept asking him to figure 8 and kept asking him — and wouldn’t you know it, he lowered his head a fraction and blew out and organized his trot a smidge. Eventually.


I remember Pat saying to start with games 1 through 3, then the level 1 on-line patterns, then back to games 4 through 7. (See Parelli Reference.) The figure 8 pattern helped me see what I could do with circle game to help me communicate more clearly and Salsa enjoy the game more. I took us to another part of the arena and asked for one good lap at the trot, not breaking gait, and I was not persnickety about whether he had his head up or not because it’s the first time I have persisted this long. And lo! He began to check in, and he began to trot more of the circle before breaking gait, and once he started checking in, he didn’t have his nose to the outside anymore. Eventually.

When he got his one lap we took a rest and a stroll, with the stick and string in a rhythmic motion (not pressure) around him. For our final lesson, I put a pole out and asked for circle the other direction. Even though it was just a cavaletti pole on the sand, no risers, he chose to jump it like he was playing steeplechase pony. He did a complete trot lap a lot sooner in this direction than he had to the left, and that ended the school day. We moseyed out for a grazing snack and then hung out watching Erin developing a pair of Peruvian Pasos and eventually meandered down to the pen he shares with Rocky during the day.

I keep saying things like “persist” and “eventually” as if it was so much trouble to take the time that it takes. But the entire session lasted about an hour, and did not include treats, just scratches and rests and brief-but-interesting interludes of doing things he’s already confident in.

I bet $1 that next time I take him out for trotting figure 8s and circles, he gets it in half the time. Genius.

Categories: Feel, On-Line | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Create a free website or blog at

%d bloggers like this: