Monday, July 2, 2012

Horse and Soul Parelli USA Tour 2012 - Looking at the Issue

Part One

I remember looking at that gelding's behavior with Linda Parelli and realizing there were distinct similarities between it and behavior being exhibited by one of my young stallions. I immediately wondered how her fix would compare to what had been done to correct the behavior of my horse.

While normally I would have such issues long since corrected, the events of the last two years had resulted in little of the schooling necessary to fix such behavior. Not enough turnout over the course of the winter and handling by someone lacking experience had contributed to the situation also, despite the fact the horse is a kind, sweet horse.

Horses cannot be expected to do what they have not been taught. That was clearly the problem with my horse but, regardless of its origin, it made the horse unsafe and therefore at risk. Big unruly horses are undesirable despite their disposition. Both of these horses needed intervention to make them safe.

Thinking from the perspective  of Parelli's horsenality there were lots of differences between the two horses. The gelding seemed to be a dull type of horse  while my young stallion is very sensitive and excitable. My horse is smart as a whip and the quarter horse before me seemed slow in comparison. While I don't really get the right brain, left brain thing, I believe between the gelding and my stallion there would be one of each. Yet both exhibited the same behavior of charging forward as an evasive maneuver.

This behavior makes sense in the scheme of things. As flight animals, avoidance is innate. Given a hole to slip through a horse is going to take it no matter what other circumstances play into it. Looking for the easiest way is not some character flaw but the way Mother Nature designed horses and people who understand that have another tool in controlling inappropriate behavior.

The motivation of each horse was different. The gelding was resistant to following direction while my horse's behavior was more about containing pent up energy. The stallion was so full of himself he didn't really know how to contain himself and whatever cues he has been previously taught had been long since dulled.  The gelding's behavior had been enabled by an inexperienced handler and he intended to do what he could to exploit her while my horse just didn't get what was expected of him and hates being in trouble of any kind.

In terms of the horse/human relationship, I would call the gelding an under achiever wanting his own way regardless of his handler's needs. My young stallion is an over achiever who tries hard to please.  He can get insecure if he realizes he is doing something wrong but doesn't understand what that something is. That insecurity can fuel the flames and make learning difficult. It is imperative to have this horse calm so he can learn. Anything that excites him when you are trying to teach him will only get in the way.

Both horses were avoiding doing what was asked by rushing forward with a great amount of bravado although the gelding understood what he was being asked to do while my horse did not. The latter comment might seem counter intuitive considering my  belief the stallion learns quicker than the gelding but it is just another example of how two different horses can exhibit exactly the same behavior for totally different reasons. The importance of understanding the differences aids in choosing what will work to teach each individual how to do the right thing.

To be continued....



  1. I understand what you mean when you say they exhibit the same behavior but for different reasons. It takes a good handler and teacher to recognize personalities and figure out what each horse needs to become a solid citizen. I'm sure when you're able your stallion will be taught a refresher lesson and he'll be just fine.

    1. GHM, my horse is on the road to recovery. I sure hope that gelding is doing as well but it's hard to know how much she actually took home from the experience.

  2. Interesting how same issues come from totally different horses for totally different reasons. Would you treat them the same?

    1. Crystal, there were parts that were the same and parts that were different. I will go through them as it goes along. The personality of each horse definitely determined the differences.