Jasper and I seem to have gotten over that hump that had me so frustrated. He is paying attention to me more and longeing is not an ordeal. It still takes a bit for him to muster up a trot for me – but I am working on it. He is a draft, after all!

Eyes on me – yeah!

To make things interesting for  Jasper instead of endless longeing, I tried some games yesterday with Jasper that came with this months Parelli dvd.

1. Push a ball
On a longe line, the goal is to get the horse to solve a puzzle, the puzzle being to push the ball. I longed Jasper in the round pen with the ball against the wall. I got him to stop as close to the ball as possible, if he went past it, turn him around and try again. At first he wanted to smell manure, and not pay any attention to the ball. Then he sniffed it. And I eventually got him to kick it for several steps. Sometimes he would push it with his nose.

Is it edible?

He was pretty good! Unfortunately Parellis do not take ~erm~ draft horses into account or the fact that they would rather crush through something like godzilla, than actually play with it. Jasper stepped on the ball, tripped  – and just kept on going. I was expecting the ball to go <POOF> but amazingly, it didn’t!

2. Games With a Gate
Longeing a horse in a circle, past an open gate. This was a good test for me AND for Jasper because it helped with my timing for keeping him going and for Jasper to keep him focused on me and what I am asking him to do. I tried this in the round pen to start and left the door open.  At a walk, I started from the other end and had him head in a circle towards the door and supposedly past it. At first he headed straight for the door and was planning to keep on going to that nice grass! He did knock me a little off balance but I brought him back in and asked for the circle again. He would walk a bit, then try to turn around and head for the door again! Uh uh, buddy. This got a lot of rope swinging to stop him from turning around and continue going. Well, he was going in the right direction now, but now he tried to cut across the middle as a shortcut to the door! More stick waving to get him OUT of my space and back on the circle. I stopped him near the open door and just had him stand there, until he focused back on me.

Me want grass

It took some trial and error but I eventually got him to calmly walk past the door on the longe line without pulling. Good boy!

3. The Pinky Test
Lead your horse around with only your pinky on his halter. It’s not about the pinky – it’s about how light your horse can be.

I would not have done with Jasper if I was worried I was going to lose my finger!  We have worked a lot on leading, backing up, turning both directions. Turning into him into a clockwise circle used to make him very defensive and he would throw his head up. Now he anticipates me, and turns accordingly and lightly. It’s a great feeling! He can still be a bit sluggish so I could not work up to a trot. I am going to work on that on a 12 foot lead.

All in all he did great and PAID ATTENTION! Since he was doing so well, I thought I would throw the bridle on him with the bit and reins attached and work on some turning with the reins from the ground. This was only the second time I had worked with him with the reins attached to the bridle.

I lightly pulled one rein while standing at the side of Jasper to get him to do some lateral flexion on each side. I had been working on this with Jasper at liberty and he had picked it up in a snap. I was worried he would be resistant with the reins and bit in his mouth – but he was amazingly light! With a slight bit of pressure on his mouth, he would turn his head all the way in to his belly on either side.

It was a little hard to take pictures while doing this!

I only did this for about 5 or 6 minutes, then took the bridle off, and he got a big hug and a cookie and happily got to graze on some grass!


I am going through the new Parelli series ‘Liberty and Horse Behavior’. Although I love to poke fun at Parelli, I must say I have seen, read and watched a lot of trainers by now and I have learned the most from the Parelli’s.  I’m even thinking of trying for my Level One certification (inspired by Equinemine!).

I think I just hate the idiotic names. What is up with that? Porcupine game? I’m 40 years old, not 12! But I will be the first to admit that I bow in their sheer marketing genius. Seriously, who has packaged the natural horsemanship phenomenon better than they have?  My Liberty and Horse Behavior package came in a box worthy of a fancy book or something. I want to frame it, it’s so darn pretty. But I digress… 

I’ve been studying their new horsenality chart trying to determing Jasper’s horsenality. Parelli’s contention is that by learning what type of personality your horse is it will help you learn what are the best strategies are to work with them. As we are moving towards actually riding Jasper, working with his personality is becoming very important.

 Jasper is a complex horse and was difficult for me to pin down into one horsenality. But I have determined he has evolved. He was Right Brained almost Introvert when he first arrived but has since moved to Left Brain Introvert sometimes Extrovert.

On the positive side, he is clever, calm, playful and a fast learner. These were taken yesterday. I’ve been doing this for about a month, stomping on the mouting block, then leaning over and putting my full weight on his back, rubbing him a lot while I’m doing it. We even had him take a full step forward so he could get used to balancing himself with extra weight on his back.

One advantage of having a big horse is you will always look skinny!

Lots of rubbing

On the negative side, he can be clever (works both ways haha), non-responsive, disinterested, argumentative and defiant. Like with lungeing. Jasper hates it. He thinks it is so boring. I asked Michelle to work on it a little with him because he had started to become very dull with me. It had gotten to the point that he just stood there and yawned at me and wouldn’t budge!

At first he was going at a nice walk but the look on his
face is saying ‘I don’t want to do this’

Got him into a nice trot….

But then for whatever reason, Jasper will suddenly stop, face the middle and challenge. He’s not confused, he just decides he doesn’t want to go. We’ll increase the pressure and he will stand there stand there stand there – and then take off. And do about 5 or 6 laps of the round pen.

around and around and around

Granted, this is wayyyy less dramatic than when he first arrived and was more right brained. But with lungeing he has yet to have a tantrum and just – move on. He may be a horse that never likes lungeing. But as he was doing his laps, a thought ran through my head.

What if he feels like this about riding?

What if he hates being ridden?

The telltale signs indicate he is pretty mellow about me hanging out on his back and I pay careful attention to his body and points of tenseness like his neck. Fingers crossed that he decides riding adventures with his loving buddy that he trusts completely are fun.

According to Parelli, the most important thing when working with a horse with this type of personality is to keep things interesting so they don’t have a chance to become bored.

Like adding a couple of trotting poles

Jasper still doesn’t like lungeing but it adds a bit of interest for him. Having an easily bored horse is not all bad. He likes to learn new things and learns them quickly. One thing is certain when I finally come to riding Jasper. He is definitely going to keep me on my toes coming up with new and fun things to keep him challenged.