Sunday, January 18, 2009

Playing with Patterns On Line

It has been a little while since my last update. Since I've had the Parelli Patterns, I've had time for only two practice sessions - yesterday and today!

I've been following the same routine the last several play sessions that we've had. First, I tie all three horses along the fence, then I groom them, and then I take them individually into the field to play.

I've been taking them in order of rank within the herd:
1. Smokey 2. Cody 3. Guinness

They seem quite content to stand there and watch as I play with each horse. This way, each horse gets attention and perhaps they learn from watching each other? (I've been reading Temple Grandin's book Animals in Translation, and this may not be as far fetched as it seems.)

Yesterday, each horse played a little with Figure 8 around two barrels (On line Patterns - Level 1). Then, I decided to practice "ponying" Guinness. I tied Guinness to a ring on a surcingle fastened around Smokey. Then I led Smokey while he led Guinness. It was clear to me that Smokey knew that he was helping to teach Piggy and he remained totally level headed as we walked around the perimeter of the field. Guinness followed along chewing on Smokey whenever the opportunity presented itself.. It was a good experience!

Here is a rare full-body photo of Guinness. The only way that he will stay far enough away from me is if he is tied. He is now about 20 months old.

Before heading out today, I reviewed the Patterns tasks for the day: Figure 8 around barrels and Touch It. I also watched the Liberty & Horse Behavior DVD: Problem Solving #4 Circling for some insight into how to keep Guinness moving during the Circling Game.

My husband was outside working so he volunteered to take a couple of videos of me playing with Smokey. Here is one of Smokey trying the Figure 8 pattern. (I tried to replicate the way that Pat holds his stick during the demo clip and it *really* helped me to be more coordinated.) Note how Smokey offers to put his foot on the barrel. :-)

I followed Smokey's suggestion to put his foot on something by walking over to the tires and encouraging him to put his foot on a tire. Here is what he did:

Here is a clip of us playing Driving Game/Touch It from Zone 4 (mostly). I forgot my stick and was attempting to guide him by touch as needed. We did surprisingly well, given that he is my hyper vigilant introvert!

Unfortunately, I didn't get any footage of Guinness. I tried some of the ideas presented in the L&HB Problems disk and they worked GREAT. He really showed me lots of exuberance. At first he questioned if I was still his friend after I came after him, then he realized it was a game and he was thrilled. (He even attempted to back up while rearing - silly boy.) He is the first horse that I've ever worked with that physically reacts when I give him the "stink eye" cue to back up - he rolls his eyes at me and then moves his feet backward. He really sees me as boss mare!

Then we played Figure 8 and then Touch It with me sending him to pieces of apple. He totally understood it when I gestured at a treat with my stick and would immediately put his nose where the stick was.

Some other firsts for Guinness:
- he got a new blanket just in time for the zero degree weather (no problems with it)
- he sniffed his tail as I bent him around and was very interested in it
- he has a new trick - I stroke his nose and he smiles (Flehmen response)

I'll try to get a video of him smiling for next time!

Just for fun, here is a silly video of Cody at Liberty hunting for treats:


wanna said...

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It is a place where thousands of active and unrestrained horse people meet, date, become friends and more in the pursuit of the same dream as you have.

Cindy said...

Hi, Juliet's sister! Juliet gave me the link to your blog and I'll save it in my favorites file. I have a TWH and an Andalusian (rescue). Nice to see photos of green ground from up here in ten below.

You can check out my blog at

Michelle AKA arabhorselover1 said...

Hey Clare--

I like the idea to tie the other up while you are working with a horse. It truly helps the waiting horse be patient and gives him nothing to do but watch! Very clever. The videos are fun to watch too. Thanks for blogging your journey.

It Horse Church Sunday and I am watching the Dec Savvy Club DVD. It is not too cold yet so, I am heading out to feed and play with the horses. I don't know what we are going to do but, we are going to do something!

Miss you,