Right at the beginning of his Natural Horsemanship book, Pat Parelli introduces his Level 1 theory by outlining the six keys to success. They are: Attitude, Knowledge, Tools, Techniques, Time and Imagination. Since the original publication of the book years ago, a seventh key has been added: Support.In my earlier posts, we focused on the first five keys: Attitude, Knowledge, Tools, Techniques and Time. In this post, I will introduce the sixth key to success, IMAGINATION.
Key no. 6 IMAGINATION
It’s not about doing circus tricks. The obstacles and toys help us build a conversation and engage our horse’s mind to solve a puzzle.
Did you know horses learn 7 to 10 times faster than humans? We are the slow ones! We need to learn to become more imaginative, more sensitive and more creative when we play with our horses. Horses get so easily bored and frustrated by people when it is just the same thing every time, over and over. They need to be positively stimulated at three levels: mental, emotional and physical. They need to play and have fun when they learn.
Over the span of the first four levels in the Parelli Natural Horsemanship program, there are a multitude of tasks laid out to help us take a more imaginative approach to the development of ourselves and our horse. These steps not only keep us progressive and advancing, but help keep the horse interested in learning and spending time with us.
Pat Parelli’s rule of thumb is 80% consistency, 20% variety. Consistency builds confidence, reliability, and trust and solidifies the learning. Variety is the spice of life! It keeps things engaging, interesting and fun.
Being imaginative also means you may have to change your approach and tailor your session to the horse that shows up that day or in that moment. Only fools keep doing the same thing expecting a different result! If your technique is not producing the results you are looking for, you may have to come up with a different way of asking the question or helping your horse find the answer. This is where adding more savvy arrows to your quiver by diligently keeping up your studies of horsemanship will be helpful. If all you have are one or two ways of doing each exercise, you will soon find yourself out of arrows if those one or two are not working! Great horsemen know there are many ways to get to an outcome and are able to quickly read the situation and adjust accordingly.
Imagination will stop your horse from getting bored or burned out by you or the way you train. The Parelli Levels program will help you get started and build an awesome set of skills on the ground and riding. It will shape you as a leader for your horse, teach you to plan your sessions, show you patterns to use as exercises and give you some creative goals to aim for, for example, leading your horse by the tail, or teaching him to put all four feet on a pedestal.
You don’t always have to do unusual things. Just advancing your horsemanship abilities improves your leadership and keeps things appealing for your horse.
Imagination can make all the difference. Your horse will thank you for it!
The round pen needs to be a playground, not a torture pit! How many things can you think of doing in a round pen?
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