The Savvy Station

The Attitude of Justice is Effective

por Parelli Professionals en Dec 20, 2023

The Attitude of Justice is Effective

By Neil Pye — 6-Star Parelli Instructor Emeritus


Principle Number Five: The Attitude of Justice can be a bit more complex than the others to grasp intellectually, and almost certainly when it comes to putting it into practice.


I think this principle can only really begin to be appreciated once we accept and are dealing with our predatory nature as a human.


The number one human responsibility, which we discussed in the last issue [of the Savvy Times], ‘don't act like a predator,’ is something we work on for the rest of our lives.


In short, we have to learn to be  more calm and centered  in our thinking, which means we've tapped more into the responsive partnership side of our brain and less so the unaware, reactive predatorial side of our brain.


Only then can we be ready to be in a position to recognize when and how to appropriately apply an attitude of justice.


The attitude of justice is by way of explanation; if the horse does a little infraction or a little misstep, we correct it with a corresponding level of energy that matches their infringement.


You’ve got to match and mirror their energy to be effective. If they dive off in a big rush, for whatever reason, being scared, pushy, or confused,  you've got to match that.


By applying the right amount of energy via phases appropriate to the situation, your horse will start to see that his uncooperative energy is reflected back to him in varying degrees of discomfort.


So, our application of phases is critical in our communication with a horse.


We can't verbally talk to them. Well, you can, if you must, but what you do with your body language and physicality creates a language for them. So it’s in the application of your phases that you can reflect to the horse his transgressions.


Now we can't expect the horse to think in those logical terms, but you can understand the principle.


A lot of people say, “Well, I'm never sure when to be light or when to be heavy with my phases. The understanding of an attitude of justice will go a long way to answering that for you.


Another practical example that may help is in a ridden situation to understand the attitude of justice:


Let’s say you are riding a follow the rail pattern. You're on a loose rein, and everything's going well. But suddenly, you can feel him start to speed up. Something has bothered him. 


No one needs that feeling explained to them. Everyone has felt in a nanosecond when the horse leaves a friendly position and starts to get hold of himself because something spooked, distracted him, or he’s just taking over. 


When you feel the horse start to speed up, you have the opportunity to calmly apply ‘the attitude of justice’ to the situation vs. panicking and pulling his head around into a grinding, crashing one rein stop.


Instead, with the ‘attitude of justice,’ you would use a direct rein to turn him slightly. Turning, as we know, has a slowing influence. So, a slight direct rein to get in his way, and through your life and reins, you say to your horse,” Hey, Buddy, come back, stick with me and my speed.”


If the direct rein has the desired result and he returns to his original speed, you return to a loose, comfortable casual rein again to reward him.


If the direct rein does not have the desired slowing effect, you transition from direct to an indirect rein which will influence his hindquarters and hopefully slow his momentum due to the increased bend in his body.  


The second you feel the horse throttle back, you allow them to return to the rail as a reward for returning to the speed you set initially.


Now, if he ignored you, and he didn't listen to the direct rein, he didn't listen to the indirect rein, you've got to transition to a control rein and shut him down entirely because this could get dangerous for all involved.


By mindful repetition of such a strategy whenever the horse starts to take over, the horse gets to see a predictable travel path with ever-increasing discomfort if he chooses not to comply.


With time, consistency, and repetition, the horse will decide it is just easier to stay at the speed and gait the rider has set.


By your understanding and application of “The Attitude of Justice,” you have caused the desirable behavior to be easy for the horse and the undesirable behavior hard—communication, understanding, and psychology in action!

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