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  1. #1
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    Default Horse starts pulling back after learning Parelli "wiggle rope" game?

    I'm posting this as an interesting observation/PSA only --- not meant as another "I hate Parelli" thread. I'd also love some suggestions for fixing this problem.

    A rescued TB I trained and rode for a year came back to my barn the other day. He has been in dressage training over the past months with a good trainer. The trainer incorporates Parelli techniques and used a lot of them on this horse.

    This horse returned to me with a lot of complaints about violent pull-back incidents, which concerned me since he tied well for me when I had him.

    One of the techniques the trainer used often with this horse is one of the Parelli 7 Games where you wiggle the rope and the horse moves backward. This horse has obviously been schooled a lot in this game.

    Yesterday, I figured out the source of the pullback problem! I had the horse straight tied to a breakaway loop and observed a fascinating thing. He was resting quietly and shook his head a bit, which made the lead rope wiggle. His reaction was to go backward rather quickly, hitting the end of the rope and panicking/pulling back.

    I can now see a connection between this new 'skill' and the new pullback problem. I'm going to work with this horse on yielding more to pressure from the halter, since that's clearly an underlying issue in any pullback. I'd love any suggestions for working with him to lessen the "fly back" reaction to the lead rope wiggling, etc. Do I just try to do some desensitization to this, or what?



  2. #2
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    Oct. 20, 2006
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    Default

    I wonder if tying him to one of the blocker tie rings for a while might help his anxiety, since when he pulls back, he won't reach the end and have the panic moment.



  3. #3
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    Feb. 18, 2005
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    This is not a solution - just a temporary fix so you have time to work on the underlying 'trained' issue - you could try tying with a much stiffer leadrope. One that is stiff enough that it might require a blocker tie ring. That way when the horse shakes his head, the whole rope will swing, making much less of a 'snake'

    Just a thought. As you said, yielding to poll pressure is the way to go. That - and not drilling the game anymore.



  4. #4
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    I think that's an interesting observation-one I have seen before. I agree with the above two posters and would only add that one of those rubber ring things people use on so called "patience poles" may help-I agree with you in that you may need to work on desensitization and think you're on the right track.
    Michael: Seems the people who burned me want me for a job.
    Sam: A job? Does it pay?
    Michael: Nah, it's more of a "we'll kill you if you don't do it" type of thing.
    Sam: Oh. I've never liked those.



  5. #5
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    Jan. 10, 2008
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    Here's one thing to think about... I'll wiggle the lead rope or twirl a lead rope or whatever to ask my horse to move. It's not about the rope; it's about the energy you're directing through the rope. That's where stuff like Parelli goes so far askew. People watch PP wiggling away with the rope and think it ends there--the rope moves the horse. It's your energy asking the horse to move back that does it; the wiggle is supposed to be a means to an end--it encourages the horse to associate that cue with getting away from the pressure, which at first is both an energy (looking at the horse, thinking, "Get back") and a physical cue ("This rubbing on my nose is annoying, I want it to stop"). The real goal is to look at the horse thinking "Back up" and the horse knows automatically what that look and that energy is. I can direct my horse with a rope without using pressure, because he doesn't need the rope anymore--he understands what I'm asking.

    So when people keep twirling the lead rope or wiggling the lead rope or whatever, or in other methods, yanking on the chain shank or whatever... it's missing the point. Which is why there are so many Parelli-esque horses out there with fried brains; there's no actual feel or energy, it's just repetition and drill and force.

    I had a cowboy friend who pointed out that if he stands there next to a horse and swings a rope, he's just some idiot swinging a rope. He expects the horse not to move, which is actually essential if he's roping. If he is actively directing his energy and the swinging of the rope at the horse's hip, he is saying, "Move your arse and do it now, please." So if this horse is reacting to just the wiggle of a tied rope as a signal to move back, it sounds like he's been overstimulated to the point where the rope is moving him, not the handler. So my thought would be to work with teaching him the difference between a rope swinging next to him, a lead rope wagging, etc., with no intent--it's okay, just stand there and relax, this movement has nothing to do with you--and the same action being performed with purpose and intent--now I'm looking at you, I'm thinking "step back," and if you don't I'm going to start a little pressure with the rope, then a little more, and as soon as you think about stepping back, the pressure stops. If he understands the difference between a rope and a person using a rope to ask him to back up, he should be able to relax more...



  6. #6
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    May. 4, 2003
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    Canada
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    Default

    But that's the trouble with the rope-swinging methods. It is all so crazy and energetic. This horse has probably been swung at ad nauseum. He needs to get sensistized to smaller, lighter movements, but it is so ingrained in him by now.



  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Foxtrot's View Post
    But that's the trouble with the rope-swinging methods. It is all so crazy and energetic. This horse has probably been swung at ad nauseum. He needs to get sensistized to smaller, lighter movements, but it is so ingrained in him by now.
    No, Fox, the trouble is with the person who does not GET IT, not the rope. I can move my horse back with a finger pointed at him and my eyes on his eyes and my energy saying move one now the other now one more and whoa. The rope by now with him is passive the whole time. With the same horse I can flop that rope all over while I'm talking or whatever and he knows I'm just woggling the rope. re -read Sarah and Sam's post.

    For the OP, a heavy weight lead for now, to reduce his episodes. Don't hard tie him, a Clip or Blocker Ring. When he does do this, just put him back where he was like nothing happened. They've messed him up, he needs consistently new responses from you so he knows him shaking his own rope means nothing.

    Poor guy.



  8. #8
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    Jul. 31, 2007
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    Clearly the trainer "didn't get it" and overdid the training. I find the "energy talk" an unhelpful clarification. If you didn't "get" how to condition a horse to read your intention by backing it up with a swinging rope, it may not help to have the person think about their "energy" or will or whatever.

    So you must first ask the trainer to cease and desist with the technique.

    Only when you have done that can you desensitize your horse to wiggling ropes. If you don't, you have established two conflicting sets of rules.

    To desensitize one about tying, I suppose I'd use two ropes. One would be very long and fed through the tie ring. The other would be shorter and wiggly. I'd wiggle the rope calmly, let him back up to meet the pressure of the still rope, feeding it to him with some resistance if he stepped back. I'd quit wiggling and let him stand there "meeting" the pressure from the long rope, and taking a deep breath. Praise him, bring him back up and do it again.

    it's remarkable what you can teach them-- the contradictions horses will tolerate-- if you try.
    The armchair saddler
    Politically Pro-Cat



  9. #9
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    I absolutely agree with SarahandSam and with Katarine. Someone has overdone it. I like the idea of a heavy rope that Katarine suggested, I'd definitely try that! Also, some playing with his rope (desensitization to its wiggling) with a relaxed body posture might help him to figure out that it is about the body posture rather than the rope wiggling (I'd even go so far as to turn my body at an angle towards the horse and wiggle away). If you can re-teach him the proper way of responding to the wiggling rope Using body language), it would likely help as well. Consistency and passive persistence (and patience, lol) is key.



  10. #10
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    Apr. 13, 2008
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    Blocker tie ring made a world of difference with my mare.



  11. #11
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    Another strike for Parelli. Mine move back by verbal command. With a loud voice, in an emergency, most will stop on a dime and back up. No lead rope required. (And I'm not insinuating that I don't use a lead rope, I do.)

    Sorry, just don't get the whole "games" thing. It's not a game when you're "playing" with a 1200 lb animal with a mind of it's own. It's training, it's work. Period.

    OP, I'm guessing no lead wiggling in your future. Sounds like she will have to be desensitized.



  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by LauraKY View Post
    Another strike for Parelli. Mine move back by verbal command. With a loud voice, in an emergency, most will stop on a dime and back up. No lead rope required. (And I'm not insinuating that I don't use a lead rope, I do.)

    Sorry, just don't get the whole "games" thing. It's not a game when you're "playing" with a 1200 lb animal with a mind of it's own. It's training, it's work. Period.

    OP, I'm guessing no lead wiggling in your future. Sounds like she will have to be desensitized.
    Or more? To the point of doing jump rope with the lead rope?
    Quote Originally Posted by Mozart View Post
    Personally, I think the moderate use of shock collars in training humans should be allowed.



  13. #13
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    Now, I'll admit that I have only a very basic knowledge of anything Parelli, and I'm not overly fond of the guy.

    HOWEVER...

    IF I were to use the rope-shaking technique to back a horse up (and I do sometimes; it's handy when you're leading two horses at once), I'd make it a two part exercise.

    Part one would be shaking the rope to back him up. Part two would be letting him hit the end of the rope, then having him give to that pressure and come forward. IMO, those would be two complementary exercises (when done properly), and would improve the horse's ability to lead, tie, and pay attention.

    With a little repetition, you can "bounce" the horse back and forth while refining his response your signals, until as Katarine mentioned, you're just pointing.



    Or, (OPTION 2), you can flop the rope at the horse's head until he flies backwards. Repeat ad nauseum until he develops this neat little ingrained habit of flying backwards.

    We can safely guess which approach the OP's former trainer used, but I don't know if that's how the program is meant to be run. I suppose I'd have to (grudgingly) give Parelli the benefit of the doubt on this one unless I knew for sure he was endorsing option 2.

    Most of the time, when a training method goes wrong, it's the person who's at fault, not the method itself.




    ... And now I need to go wash my hands after kinda-sorta defending Parelli. I feel dirty.



  14. #14
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    Jul. 21, 2006
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    Oh, good Lord.

    I don't know what I'd do with this sort of horse. But I agree with katarine and other posters who've said that the mistake was focusing on the means and not the end (by the previous trainer).

    I suppose I'd try doing something like rewarding for standing still in the presence of a twitching lead rope.

    Geezus crispies. It ain't that hard to get a horse to back up. They're prey animals, for chrissake. WTF people have to warp the poor beasties to get the desired behavior is beyond me.



  15. #15
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    Yo, Dudettes, just because the other train stalled out - somewhat...let's send the PP bashing over yonder and try to focus on helping the horse. (and Pray it won't have to go back to rope twitching dimwit...)

    Quote Originally Posted by Mozart View Post
    Personally, I think the moderate use of shock collars in training humans should be allowed.



  16. #16
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    Default Forgot to mention:

    As far as fixing the problem, I'd probably try the "bouncing" exercise first, in hand (not tied, obviously).

    I'd start with shaking the rope to back the horse, letting him back himself into the pressure, then really emphasizing the second step -- coming forward and yielding to poll pressure.

    If you assume that when working with horses, we're always either refining the aids or desensitizing to the aids, I would work towards refining the "come forward" aid and desensitizing to the back up aid. IOW, making the forward cue as soft and light as possible, while dulling him to the rope-shaking cue.

    Timing and momentum would be important. You'd want the horse to bounce back and forth as quickly as possible. If you shake the rope and it takes ten minutes to get him to come forward in response to the pressure, the exercise is not helpful. If you can bounce him in a few steps, it's better. If you can get him in half a step (or even a lean), that's best.

    I think it would be fun to play with this exercise to see how good you can get him. But I'm weird like that.

    Anyway, depending on how that lesson went, I'd tie him to a Clip or Blocker and go from there.

    It might turn out that the rope-shaking problem has created a permanent pulling-back problem. You won't know until you desensitize and see if the pulling problem remains.

    In that case, I'd desensitize as best I could to the rope-shaking, then forget about it and treat the horse like a puller for life. IME once they learn to really pull, you can mitigate it but you can't truly fix it.



  17. #17
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    I didn't learn this from Parelli. I learned it face to face with Ray Hunt in a clinic in Memphis in the 90s. So there

    and I can keep my horse from grazing and zoning out on me on ample slack while I do whatever I am doing. Sue me I can back him up and whoa him with a raised finger and a wiggle at most of my hand. It's refining the horse's radio signal, it's not tricks. and it's damn sure not got anything to do with patperoni or other smoked sausage



  18. #18
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    Feb. 23, 2008
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    Quote Originally Posted by SarahandSam View Post
    Here's one thing to think about... I'll wiggle the lead rope or twirl a lead rope or whatever to ask my horse to move. It's not about the rope; it's about the energy you're directing through the rope. That's where stuff like Parelli goes so far askew. People watch PP wiggling away with the rope and think it ends there--the rope moves the horse. It's your energy asking the horse to move back that does it; the wiggle is supposed to be a means to an end--it encourages the horse to associate that cue with getting away from the pressure, which at first is both an energy (looking at the horse, thinking, "Get back") and a physical cue ("This rubbing on my nose is annoying, I want it to stop"). The real goal is to look at the horse thinking "Back up" and the horse knows automatically what that look and that energy is. I can direct my horse with a rope without using pressure, because he doesn't need the rope anymore--he understands what I'm asking.

    So when people keep twirling the lead rope or wiggling the lead rope or whatever, or in other methods, yanking on the chain shank or whatever... it's missing the point. Which is why there are so many Parelli-esque horses out there with fried brains; there's no actual feel or energy, it's just repetition and drill and force.

    I had a cowboy friend who pointed out that if he stands there next to a horse and swings a rope, he's just some idiot swinging a rope. He expects the horse not to move, which is actually essential if he's roping. If he is actively directing his energy and the swinging of the rope at the horse's hip, he is saying, "Move your arse and do it now, please." So if this horse is reacting to just the wiggle of a tied rope as a signal to move back, it sounds like he's been overstimulated to the point where the rope is moving him, not the handler. So my thought would be to work with teaching him the difference between a rope swinging next to him, a lead rope wagging, etc., with no intent--it's okay, just stand there and relax, this movement has nothing to do with you--and the same action being performed with purpose and intent--now I'm looking at you, I'm thinking "step back," and if you don't I'm going to start a little pressure with the rope, then a little more, and as soon as you think about stepping back, the pressure stops. If he understands the difference between a rope and a person using a rope to ask him to back up, he should be able to relax more...
    Thank you. No training system is idiot proof. Parelli seems to attract an extra quotient of "I'll read a book and do it myself" types who have no sense of timing or feel. I do all kinds of things with ropes around my horses including backing up wiggly stuff. They know the difference between backing up and having me toss the rope in the air over their head or the rope moving while I'm waving my hand at a friend or the rope moving because they shook a fly off their ears. Sigh.



  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sithly View Post
    Now, I'll admit that I have only a very basic knowledge of anything Parelli, and I'm not overly fond of the guy.

    HOWEVER...

    IF I were to use the rope-shaking technique to back a horse up (and I do sometimes; it's handy when you're leading two horses at once), I'd make it a two part exercise.

    Part one would be shaking the rope to back him up. Part two would be letting him hit the end of the rope, then having him give to that pressure and come forward. IMO, those would be two complementary exercises (when done properly), and would improve the horse's ability to lead, tie, and pay attention.

    With a little repetition, you can "bounce" the horse back and forth while refining his response your signals, until as Katarine mentioned, you're just pointing.



    Or, (OPTION 2), you can flop the rope at the horse's head until he flies backwards. Repeat ad nauseum until he develops this neat little ingrained habit of flying backwards.

    We can safely guess which approach the OP's former trainer used, but I don't know if that's how the program is meant to be run. I suppose I'd have to (grudgingly) give Parelli the benefit of the doubt on this one unless I knew for sure he was endorsing option 2.

    Most of the time, when a training method goes wrong, it's the person who's at fault, not the method itself.




    ... And now I need to go wash my hands after kinda-sorta defending Parelli. I feel dirty.
    It's Option 1 Plus it is supposed to be about the body language and about teaching the horse to be light and responsive...not about the rope wiggling. Obviously in this case though, Option 2 was the one used unfortunately.



  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by twofatponies View Post
    Thank you. No training system is idiot proof. Parelli seems to attract an extra quotient of "I'll read a book and do it myself" types who have no sense of timing or feel. I do all kinds of things with ropes around my horses including backing up wiggly stuff. They know the difference between backing up and having me toss the rope in the air over their head or the rope moving while I'm waving my hand at a friend or the rope moving because they shook a fly off their ears. Sigh.
    That's definitely how it should be. It is how my own horses are as well and how this horse in question should have been.



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