What is Pre-Ride Training?
by Pat Parelli on May 03, 2023
By Pat Parelli
When I first met Dr. R. Miller in the early 80s, we started talking about communication, understanding, and psychology. He said we are training or un-training our horses consciously or unconsciously all the time. I thought that was such a simple, brilliant statement. Dr. Miller also made us aware of foal imprinting. Foal imprinting is a natural phenomenon that, during the first couple of hours of life, they bond to the first things they see. They learned to bond with their mother and the herd. So, if humans are there in the first two hours, horses can see humans as funny-looking horses that belong to the herd versus a two-legged predator. Everything we can do from the moment the foal is born and before we ever throw a leg over him can be described as pre-ride training.
One of the questions I get quite often is, when can I start playing the Seven Games?
My usual answer is after they're weaned, you can play all Seven Games, just don't overdo anything. One of the things I'm sure everyone wants their horses to be is confident, curious, sensitive, and responsive. So, the two extremes of not overdoing or not doing pre-right training are making the young horse into a barnyard pet by only petting him and giving him carrots and snacks. I've even seen people make the mistake of doing cute things like teaching the young foal to put their feet up on their shoulders, which is cute when they weigh 200 pounds, but as soon as they weigh 1200 pounds and try to do the same trick, we get a different result. The opposite would be doing nothing with the foal until he's a two or three-year-old, and next thing you know, you've got a wild prey animal behaving monster. The secret is the middle-of-the-road approach to ensure our horses get all the things on the ground before we ride them. They create bonding, obedience, and exuberance, bringing that play drive the horse naturally has and turning it into horsepower.
We can play the Seven Games On-Line and at Liberty. We can put bareback pads on, and we can do lots of things that will prepare him for the future because we should always remember prior, and proper preparation prevents poor performance. Pat Parelli here helping you have a better horse life so that your horse can have a better horse life.