Parelli - how long at a session & what if the horse is terrified of the carrot stick?

Discussion in 'Natural Horsemanship' started by Esther.D, May 1, 2003.

  1. Esther.D

    Esther.D Moderator

    Just wondering - any people who do Parelli - how long do you work for in a session and how rapidly do you move through the games? I have not had the opportunity to see a PNH 'pro' in action (except on the videos) so i was wondering when you count a game as learnt or successful and you move on.

    Also what level of success have you had with the carrot stick? They always seem to use it as the first approach whereas I have had much more success with my hand and rope - Rupert is cautious of the stick and Pablo has been abused in the past and I know we can't get a stick near him without terrifying him so I haven't tried. If I tried the stick approach first I would be there for months with Pablo whereas with hands and the rope he is perfect.

  2. Rakeli

    Rakeli New Member

    I tend to play for as long as necessary - if they're doing well I'll cut it short, but otherwise usually about 45 mins - 1 hour. You may only be able to school a horse for 50 minutes, but you can play for hours!

    I did about two/three games at a time, as Jazz got bored just doing one, and varied how I did them. If you've got the Savvy Pack it has checklists in the back of each book.

    Re carrot stick: All horses I've seen and done have been fine with it, I suggest that you just stick at #1 Friendly game using the stick, as it's kinda important to the whole thing.
  3. Esther.D

    Esther.D Moderator

    Thanks Rakeli that was just the kind of thing I wanted to know:) With Pablo it is going to take a long time to get the carrot stick near him as he has been beaten at some time:( We will work on that before we go further in the Parelli, this does however mean that the games will have to come after the rest of his education as desensitizing him to sticks is not going to come quickly....however we were always going to do it anyway.

    With Rupert I'll just keep at it until he accepts the stick - I don't think it'll be that long for him as he has none of the traumas Pablo has had. Rupert is currently doing really well at the first two games (not 100% with the carrot stick but we'll keep working on that) .... that was why I was asking about the games because Rupert was getting bored just doing one.

    We have only been working on our Partnership level for 3 weeks and already he is becoming a changed pony to handle - I am very pleased with him and with the method:) I do have the partnership pack with the lesson books and checklists - I think I was just after reassurance as it is all very new to me :D
  4. Esther.D

    Esther.D Moderator

    any other PNH people out there?
  5. Rakeli

    Rakeli New Member

    Just keep at it! Even when you may be thinking 'why am I doing this' whilst trying to desensitize them to the stick, it's all worth it. I'm doing my Level 2, and it's really fun, but I'm very glad I was thorough with my Level 1. It makes it a lot easier!
  6. Miriam

    Miriam Moderator

    Esther could you combine the reward system with the acceptence of the carrot stick. Say for just letting you get near him reward him and then try closer still.
  7. Shiny McShine

    Shiny McShine Bluey McBlue

    As far as I know, which is very little :eek: the games are something which stay with you forever, you are always improving on them. So as far as how long the sessions are and when to move on i don't think you can ever really perfect the games and never come back to them, there is always another level you can take it to. Take the friendly game, you may have no trouble handling each section of your horse with your hand but when the carrot stick comes in that is a different matter (as you may know :p).

    I think you have to use your judgement when to stop, as in most things you get some improvement and then move on. Remember that improvement might be being able to move the carrot stick an inch further down your horses leg, it really depends on the horse.

    Another thing to consider is that the games are sequenced to prepare you and your horse properly so it is important that you are confident that you have been thorough in going about them. However like rakeli said they can get bored so you really have to judge for yourself.

    Looking at the carrot stick problem indicates that you probably need to work with it within the friendly game and not move on until you are confident that your horses no longer see it as a weapon but just as an extention of your arm. If the carrot stick is really a problem then work up to it with something similar, perhaps a shorter stick to start with.

    Another thing that may help is to start using the friendly game with the carrot stick from the ground up. Hold the stick at your side, stand next to your horse and start from the hoof up. That way you are not making those scary upward movements to start with. :) Or don't even attempt to touch him at first, work on just lifting the stick in the air, similar to how you would swing the rope.
  8. Esther.D

    Esther.D Moderator

    Thanks all. Currently we are working with Pablo anyway to try and get him to accept the stick. We have achieved a stage where he will allow me to hold it when holding him. However if I so much as twitch the stick, never mind move it, he leaps 6 feet backwards so I think it may take a while as he has a real phobia. It has taken us long enough to get him to accept touch from hands without flinching so the stick will take a while but we will no doubt get there in the end:) It is something he needs as part of his education anyway.
  9. cvb

    cvb Cucumber

    I keep forgetting to take my carrot stick to the yard with me, so we do more rope work than anything else. But just wanted to say that you can use a mini run thru' of the games as part of your warm up before riding. Only its from the ground rather than mounted. Its great to work out what mood they are in and if they are stiff or sore at all. I like to include a little bit of gentle sideways work too - but its a bit of cheat cos I can use the walls of the school to help ;)

    Also its quite fun finding new ways to play the same game. e.g. got thinking about stretches and massage - well they are really just the friendly game and some yielding to pressure aren't they ? Plus Fi was quite worried about ropes round her hind quarters and legs when I got her - so friendly game with rope near her legs, and then gently ask her to 'give' the leg to the rope. She's getting much better. Or gently put the rope around her hindquarters and ask her to yield and turn to the rope pressure.

    I try and find new ways cos Fi has had 'natural horsemanship' of some form done before and can be a bit sharp. i.e. she is not
    reacting to your cues but out of a fear of being whopped with the rope end :eek: So I try to find ways that she has to read me and think (partnership) rather than just react in run-spook mode.

    I do think you need to get the friendly game sorted with the carrot stick before you move on - but you should be able to do some of the other games without it for practise and trust building. If he's not trusting you with the carrot stick, that will probably come out in some of the other games (without the stick). So working through the issues elsewhere will help you with the stick thing. What's he like with the squeeze game ?
  10. Esther.D

    Esther.D Moderator

    cvb - we've only tried the friendly game with Pablo so far and the firendly game and a bit of the porcupine game with Rupert. Actually I had another little go at touching Rupert with the cs again today and I think he'll catch on pretty quick actually as he is really settling down. Pablo on the other hand had a scarey encounter with a pair of horse eating brushing boots:rolleyes: Now I am fairly sure he has never been beaten with a brushing boot:D He is generally like this anyway - he will take 1/2hr the first time and after that he is much better the next and by the next time he is fine. However his fear of sticks is deeper seated than this general suspicion. I think you are right that his fear here will affect other is something we are going to have towork on.
  11. Sue Carnell

    Sue Carnell New Member

    Hi Esther,

    Try carrying the carrot stick around with you generally and doing nothing with it around Pablo. Take it as just something you carry around some of the time. Lead him from a distance with the stick out in front of you and don't attempt to touch him with it until you can walk towards him and away again with it as an accessory, rather than as an implement you intend to touch him with. If you're blase about it and it has no more significance than the sleeve of your jacket, it's more likely he'll accept it as an extension of your arm which is as it's meant to be. If you carry it all the time, he should end up ignoring it, especially if you carry it when you're feeding him. You can then start friendly with it, but always allowing him him to move away or investigate it himself if he wants to.

    Many horses are terrified of plastic bin liners. I've yet to meet a horse who has either been beaten with, or been terrorised by a plastic bin liner. I know a number of horses who have been fooled into believing plastic bags are the best things ever, by being fed from them though. :D

  12. Miriam

    Miriam Moderator

    The first horse I ever had was terrified of alot of things even hi own shadow. We wanted him to get used to pushchairs and I can remember we used to feed him out of it. Another girl who used to ride him brought her pedal bike over and used to push it round him. Neither seemed to work with him though. We even did the old plast ic bag rubbing.

    Rhi hates plastic bags and I have used this method on her (rubbing that is) she still hates them although has come to tolerate them in my hand. I might have to try the feeding out of it.
  13. Esther.D

    Esther.D Moderator

    Yep..thats our lot. It just takes the rattle of a plastic bag to bring the whole lot charging down to be fed. They think all plastic bags are food and have to try and investigate every one they see. They also think tractors and quad bikes = food as they are fed off them :D

    Most of Pablos problems are general nerves rather than specific bad treatment however we have some reason to believe that he has actually been beaten with a stick in his past...
  14. janet hakeney

    janet hakeney New Member

    I 'do Parelli' although I am not officially enrolled in 'the programme'I do the groundwork with all my horses and have done quite a lot of the ridden work with my older stallion who is a real fizz bomb ''and they're off at Haydock'' type of chap.I didn't used to be able to ride him on a loose rein (with a bit in his mouth) without him trying to beetle off with me. Since he has been doing PNH he has chilled a lot .And TODAY (drum roll) we have cantered round the outside of our 10 acre field in rope halter, rope dropped on the neck and steering only with the assistance of carrot sticks. He also rode trot and canter cloverleaf patterns on carrot sticks complete with sliding stop from canter. And.....he had a very good piaffe/passage before we started PNH but he willl now do it with only a string round his halter.

    I hang out with several people who do PNH ''officially'' and learn a lot from them. Two of my horses are away for starting with Ingela Sainsbury who is a 3 star Instructor ....see her site at

    If you can get to a course with an official coach to watch even if you cant take your horse it is well worth it. I sat in Ingelas kitchen last night talking to some girls who had just done the first day of a pre-level one course and they were just all gobsmacked with what they had learnt and how their relationships with their horses had changed for the better in just one day.
  15. cvb

    cvb Cucumber

    this trust thing is really difficult.... as I've said on other posts, my mare can be a bit spooky at things. Not necessarily what you would expect. e.g. she will happily try to open shavings bales herself, but figures chickens and ducks eat horses... :eek:

    Anyway, we do some ground work and so on to work on relationship and trust. She definitely has some 'squeeze' issues and did not originally like ropes around her hind quarters, but is so much better now.

    Then the other day we were in a jumping lesson (her sixth ever) and she got worried and belted past the second part of a double, dumping me in the process. Someone caught her, I got back on, and we gradually got her trotting around happily again. Then I went to get off. She figured I was falling off again and took some panicy steps sideways before she realised I was ok.

    So - what kind of game can I do to get her to realise falling off is not such a scarey thing ? she is fine with me hopping around normally. It was just after this one fall. we are fine 99% of the time, the problem is only when she goes into panic (non-partner) mode and decides she is responsible for the entire world (*sigh*).

    And no I am not supple enough to try anything like vaulting ! (Actually I think I am going to work on silly things like running along side her, as she thinks this is a bit weird. Perhaps if we can sort that out, falling off will be less traumatic for her ?)

    I know the idea of n.h. (inc. PNH) is to build trust and partnership so the horse stays in non-flight mode even when trouble strikes. But you do most of your training when the horse is calm and happy, and whilst a little of it definitely holds through to reduce the frequency and length of panic, I am still missing how you get that 'breakthrough' moment.....

    Ah well, its all helping anyway - so I'll keep the faith :D
  16. galadriel

    galadriel New Member

    Can you emergency dismount? It doesn't require quite so much skill as vaulting. If you can manage to hop off in a controlled manner while she's moving, and then reward her for dealing with it okay :) then that would probably help.

    Most of the time when you take a flying leap off of a horse's back you ought to let go of the reins, but if you can ED in a controlled manner you can *probably* manage to stay controlled, keep the reins, and make it less of a "Fall" than a flying dismount...which will help your little girl to figure out that coming off isn't a terrible thing. (You do probably want to try it from the halt first just to be sure you've got the feel of it...)
  17. cvb

    cvb Cucumber

    der.... read enough about the e.d. on this site that I should have remembered that one ! :) Will try it in slow motion and try to avoid hooking myself on the horn at all (western saddle), then see how we go and speed it up if poss.

    Thanks !!

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