Stay True to the Principles, by Linda Parelli
The Journey of a Right-Brain Introvert
Acquiring Hot Jazz years ago was a dream. Pat and I visited Judy Yancey’s farm near our Florida campus and spied a gorgeous six-week-old jet-black foal. Pat looked at me and said, “Now, you could talk me into that one,” and the deal was made. At last a new chapter in my dreams “” the luxury of being able to start my next superstar naturally.
Jazzy arrived at our place when he was six months old and was already noted as a little bit of a handful. He began his education with Pat’s mastery students and came to my barn in October 2010 at the age of three and a half. I’d say he was basically Level 2 and ready to advance. We quickly discovered that he loves people and being a Right Brain Introvert, he tries his heart out. As is true for most Right-Brain Introverts, this is not without putting his ears back a little when asked to do something, because they try so hard that they tend to get a little worried at the same time. I coached my assistants to focus on building his trust and confidence, to slow way, way, way down ““ to ask him something and then wait. It didn’t matter if he did it today; we would just stay true to the principles, and one day he would offer to respond with confidence.
As you can imagine, this takes a lot of patience, and you have to get rid of any direct-line “gotta do it now” feelings. I’m telling you that is not always easy, and it’s something that you always have to work on because different situations will provoke it! Here is an example of how we did it.
Cantering at Liberty Jazz would be really obedient “” send, allow, bring back “” at the trot. But he would back out with his ears back and head out with the same expression. Then he’d get more relaxed with better expression until you asked for the canter, at which point he’d worry and put his ears back again. So I stayed with each step until he could do it with confidence, which meant that it took several repetitions before he could back away without looking worried and then head off on the circle calmly and confidently with good expression. I won’t go into the details, but having the time to choose to do it was big for him. He had massive adrenaline-releasing moments, to the point where he even laid down after the bring-back in his second session.
When I gently asked him to go into the canter his ears would go back, but each time he tried, I relaxed and waited to see what he would do. He either went a little faster at the trot or did a little hop but couldn’t actually canter. I didn’t worry about it. I wanted him to know I was pleased.
The next day he couldn’t wait to try to canter! I sent him off on the circle, and he went straight into the canter. Isn’t that cool?
So this was how we kept going with things. We would ask gently for something, and if he got worried, we would just back off and not ask for it any more that day, only that he tried. The next day he would offer it to us.
Patience pays off After four months of developing Jazzy’s confidence and waiting for him to offer us things in his own time, the results are fantastic. All of the sudden he started walking with a bigger stride, ears forward, leading the way in front of the other horses. And then he started to spring into these super big trots instead of shuffling along. He even started getting a little opinionated and cheeky! It’s so fun when I turn up at the barn and I get reports that Jazzy was a little bit naughty or pushy. I don’t know if you realize how significant it is for a Right-Brain Introvert to assert himself; it says a lot about his level of confidence. Once they communicate with you at that level, you can start having a conversation, and things become more fun and progressive.
So now Jazzy is giving lots of green lights, as Pat would say, signaling that he is feeling confident and ready to learn more. We are making great progress, but at the same time we are watching for signs so we don’t go over his limit in our enthusiasm. I want to keep learning fun for him, and managing his Horsenalityâ„¢ is the key: asking less, waiting for him to offer more. I hope you get to meet him soon.
Game of Contact with Jazz – photo by Lyndsey Fitch
Pat Parelli, coiner of the term “natural horsemanship”, founded his program based on a foundation of love, language and leadership. Parelli Natural Horsemanship allows horse owners at all levels of experience to achieve success with their at-home educational program. Together with his wife Linda, Pat has spread PNH across the globe with campuses in the United States, United Kingdom and Australia. Launched in 2011, parelliconnect.com provides an online social forum packed with training tools, step-by-step to do lists, videos and more. Log on today for your FREE 30-day trial at www.parelliconnect.com.
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