With this gelding Linda Parelli worked mostly with a rope rolled up and carried in her hand. When she needed to move the gelding off of her she slapped the rope against him in a gesture similar to a cowboy slapping his leg to move cattle. The stiff, coiled rope hitting firmly against the horse's shoulder or chest got the gelding thinking maybe it was a good idea to move away from that kind of pressure. It wasn't applied randomly or forcefully but more in tune with the horse's resistance. Linda Parelli was clearly giving the gelding the opportunity to respond to light pressure only adding more as the gelding resisted.
Working in this manner Linda Parelli began building a foundation for keeping this horse in his own space. When he got too close to her she tapped him on the shoulder to move him away. If he sped up to avoid contact she blocked him with a flip of the lead, followed by a rap of the rope across his chest, if needed, creating a barrier of sorts against the excess forward. Initially the use of the rope was necessary somewhere on his body to get the horse even considering Linda's request for him to maintain his own space.
Timing is everything and when you are Linda Parelli your timing is very effective. With these two cues and nearly flawless timing, she easily had the gelding walking next to her in his proper space. He was starting and stopping off her body language looking like a good citizen in no time until she headed the horse in a direction he didn't want to go.
It didn't matter what the obstacle was, the gelding had clearly decided he did not want anything to do with games that included obstacles of any kind. When asked to approach them he ramped up his speed and rushed forward and across Parelli's path dropping his shoulder into her, trying to force her out of his way to avoid the item she wanted him to approach. If there was not room for him to go between her and the obstacle the gelding attempted to go over Parelli. No cue to stop or direct him worked.
It was at this point that Linda's response to the issue began to look familiar to what had been done with my horse. I had gone to Linda Parelli's demonstration interested in her methods, not really expecting this horse's issues to be anything like what I experience with mine. Mostly that was because all of my horses aim to please and this gelding was not looking for approval in any way. On the surface the issues looked totally different but when it came down to the root of the behavior, the solution turned out to be much the same.
The person who worked with my stallion had realized his problem was too much forward. The horse's response to any kind of correction had been more forward so she had set out to put a back cue on him. Interestingly enough Linda Parelli chose to do the same thing with this gelding but how she went about it would have been way too loud for my horse.
Still using the coiled rope she put the horse up next to the wall placing him horizontal to it. She chose a section of wall where there were no other distractions for him. Then she took her position in front of him.
Facing him she stood far enough in front of the horse that he could actually see her. Then she abruptly stepped forward in a large manner to encourage him to move away from her. When the horse did not respond to her intrusion, Linda Parelli immediately began rapping on the horse's chest to illicit a response. If the horse tried to exit out the open side she blocked that using the cooked rope if necessary. At the first sign of the horse raising up to even look at her Linda released the pressure rewarding the horse for paying attention to her.
From there she built on that cue to send the horse backwards. Building a little more response from the horse each time she stepped forward into him getting as physically large as necessary to get any response. She timed her releases so that each time she asked, the horse gave her a little piece more in what would eventually become the horse walking backward when Linda walked into him.
The important part of this exercise was the many little releases of pressure when the horse made even the slightest move back. It didn't matter if that movement was in the form of a step or just a small rocking of his weight away from her or even throwing his head up. If the horse gave her any sign he was thinking about retreating backward she rewarded him by ceasing her request and praising him.
Of course his first responses were small. Throwing his head up and looking at her came first but as he got more comfortable with her request, Linda requested more effort from him before she would release the pressure she was causing by rapping on his chest and eventually she added in pulling the lead towards his chest. Those pulls towards his chest were not a constant hold but an intermittent one so the horse couldn't brace against it and tune her out to be used as a building block towards a wiggling rope being an actual cue to whoa or back. She was also generous with speech as a cue, talking to the horse with verbal cues and rewards for good behavior.
Linda Parelli continued on in this manner applying as much pressure as it took to get the desired movement. Then she repeatedly asked him making sure she released to him soon enough to give him the opportunity to respond to less and less stimuli.
Once she had him responding to a very light cue while in front of him, she changed her position to beside the horse. Using a flick of the lead and the coiled rope, she worked on strengthening the cue to back. She repeated this progression until she had a solid, light backing response on both sides and from the front before she took the horse back toward any object he had previously resisted.
To be continued...........
More Gelding Work