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How to Do The "Parelli" 7 Games

Updated on January 15, 2011
The Friendly Game
The Friendly Game



The way I describe the friendly game is saying "Hi" to your horse. If you've ever seen two horses in the field doing mutual grooming that's what you are about to do.  First you're going to touch your horse everywhere, and yes I mean everywhere, flanks, stomach, under the tail, mouth, nose, ears, face, udder or sheath, etc. This conciously about your approah and your own self while your are doing this. Are you happy? Relaxed? Neutral? Is your heart rate  normal? Breath calm and slow?
Next you are going to rub the horse all over with your carrot stick. Introduce it slowly but not timidly. With the confidence that a Stallion uses over his mares, that is the confidence you need to have when introducing the stick. Again think consciously aboout your own self while doing this making sure you are not nervous and are neutral.
After successfully touching the horse all over with the carrot stick you are then going to swing the string over the horses back and slowly drag it off. You can do this over there neck, back, rump and around the legs. This is similar to that mutal grooming that I mentioned earlier. Again, consider yourself and your breathing and make sure to remain neutral.


This game involves moving the horse with pressure. It teaches your horse to yield to and from pressure which is very handy when it come to riding, steering, leg yielding and turning. We will ask the horse to move from pressure in six different directions, Left, right, backwards, forwards, up and down (head). To ask your horse to move off of the pressure you will first rub the area you are going to apply pressure to with your fingertips (friendly game). Then you will apply the pressure in stages (four ounces of pressure ie: a soft handshake, then a little more, then a little more and a little more). When the horse gives to the pressure, no matter what stage pressure you're applying, you need to release and rub (friendly game) the area where you applied the pressure. Parelli suggests "smoothly and assertively increase the pressure until the point where your horse is motivated to respond." He uses a phrase, "be as dependable as a fence post" in how you ask. If your horse "leans on a post, it gets harder the harder he leans." When the horse does begin to move though, "the post doesn't follow him." The pressure is immediately eased off. Remember, you're moving together, not pushing him or him running away from you, you're partners. Now to move in the directions discussed earlier.
Left, Right: Move the front end (Zones 1,2 & 3) by applying pressure in each zone with your fingertips. Move the hindquarters (Zone 4) the same way.
Backwards: Back your horse by applying pressure with your fingertips on your horses nose. Be careful as to not grip the nasal passages. Back your horse by his chest (front of zone 3) with fingertip pressure.
Raise/Lower: Lower your horses head to the ground with pressure on the poll and raise his head back up.

This Game helps your horse "to understand and respond to supporting aids." In this game you will drive your horse, or ask him to move without touching him. Think about it this way: When you see a mare pin her ears at another horse and that other horse moves away or when one horse kicks out and another horse moves away that is the driving game and that is what you're about to do. You will really need to focus on yourself for this game and muster up your inner horse. You will drive your horse backwards, left and  right.
Backwards: Tap your stick on the ground in between your horses two front legs. As you up the phases the "taps" become larger. Stay in a rhythm (think row row row your boat). Quit tapping as soon as your horse moves backwards. Combine the tapping with energy. Raise your energy as you raise the phases.
Left, Right: Drive your horses hindquarters by first raising your energy and "pinning your ears", then crouch down, then swing the stick, then swing the string, then touch the rump all the while looking directly at your horses hindquarters (right on the flank).  To drive your horses front end first raise your energy, then pin your ears, then swing your stick, then tap the horse on the neck all the while looking directly at the neck.

This game balances backwards and forwards movements while developing straightness. In this game you will ask your horse to back away from you using your Parelli lead rope and Halter. You will then ask your horse to come back in to you. Begin by standing directly in front of your horse. To back your horse away from you follow these phases with the hand holding the lead rope while looking directly back beyond your horse:
Phase 1: Wiggle your index finger.
Phase 2: Wiggle your whole hand.
Phase 3:  Wiggle from your elbow down.
Phase 4:  Wiggle your whole arm.
As soon as your horse takes even one step back, no matter what phase you're on, quit, go back to neutral, and take a deep breathe out. When you horse is back all the way out let them sit out there for a minute or two then "comb" the rope to lure them back in to you.

This game teaches your horse to take responsibility and not change gait or change direction unless asked. Parelli describes this as "an exercise in which the horse circles around you. You are teaching him to yield his forehand and move out and around you." In this game you will go two to four laps and then ask your horse to stop, yield his hindquarters and stand facing you with both eyes "front and center." As with all the games, this is good to do pre-ride as it shows you if your horse is listening, responding, and willing to yield. To start you are going to stand in the middle with your horse facing you and backed a few steps from you. Then you are going to go through these phases to ask your horse to move out and around you in a circle: LOOK (Look in the direction you want to go), LEAD (Lead with your arm straight out in the direction you want your horse to go), LIFT (Lift you stick with the other hand towards the horses hindquarters), SWING (Swing the stick and string towards the horses hindquarters), and TOUCH (Touch the horse lightly with the string then harder each additional phase). When you horse moves forward around you in a circle, no matter what phase you are on, quit your phases and return to neutral. Allow you horse to go the requisite two to four laps then disengage his hindquarters by following the steps and phases used to drive your horses hindquarters. Then go the other direction. If your horse stops or turns in on the circle repeat the phases.

This game includes moving both the fore and hindquarters together using either pressure or driving. Using either the porcupine game or the driving game ask the front end to move one step, then the hind end to move one step. Then try moving them together. To do this the porcupine way apply pressure to both there neck and the flank with your fingertips and go through the phases. To do this the driving way use the carrot stick like a windhseild wiper in front of your face driving first the front end then the hind end.

This game "Help horses to overcome their claustrophobic tendencies. Develop confidence for trailer loading, jumping, crossing streams, passing through gates, into stalls, wash bays, etc." You are going to drive your horse between two objects or yourself and another object. To do this use the look, lead, lift, swing, touch phases and ask your horse to move forward through the two objects. Parelli writes: "Master the art of positioning yourself so that you can direct your horse's nose into the space with one hand, and swing the rope with the other to create impulsion. You should ultimately get to where you don't need to swing the rope and just the amount of pull on the halter will signal how quickly you want the horse to go." Start with a big space then make the space narrower to make it more challenging. Use this to practice trailer loading.

ZONE 1: from the nose band of the halter streching out for a mile and a half in fron of the horse. It physically involves his muzzle and his personal space in front of him.
ZONE 2: from right behind the ears to the break of the withers, the little dip right in front of them. Essentially it's the neck and chest and the end of the zone makes a diagonal line to the point of the shoulder.
ZONE 3: from the break of the withers to the point of the hip.
ZONE 4: from the point of the hip to the top of the tail.
ZONE 5: from the tail head stretching out a mile and a half behind him.
Thr Four Phases: We use the four phases to politely ask our horse to do something. Applying the first phase, then a slightly stronger phase, then a slightly stonger phase, then the final stongest phase.
The Four Savvys: These are the areas you want to work on and have an understanding in to be "savvy": on line (groundwork), liberty (the horse is free of physical restraint), freestlye (riding without contact - either a loose rein, or the ultimate, bridle-less and bareback) and finesse (riding with contact, refinement and precision).
Neutral: Maitain a calm demeanor, steady heart rate, slow, deep breathing.


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