George is the horse that brought me to Natural Horsemaship. I was teaching at a facility in central Texas, and we had a mini tornado—typical weather for Texas! This little tornado picked up the small shed that George was standing underneath and took it away to the other side of the pasture. George truly thought that he was going to die, and went running around the pasture like a maniac. Two hours later I went to retrieve him so that we could go to our jumping lesson. When I led him to the horse trailer, he stopped 20 feet in front of it and refused to go inside. Imagine that!
In my typical non-savvy fashion (I had no clue about Natural Horsemanship), I attempted to drag and then bribe George into the trailer. Within minutes, about 20 people suddenly appeared and tried to offer assistance and guidance. Now I had twenty predators around my prey animal and all trying to shove him into a small metal cave! Understandably, he would have no part of it!
George topped the charts in Right Brain Extr0vert behavior. He could not keep still and it was like flying a kite when I “led” him. He always ran over me and I thought that there would be NO way to lead him with him following respectfully behind me. I Evented George through the Preliminary level, so he was very impulsive, high headed, and bracey. I just thought that it came with the territory. He was no different than my other Eventing horses! This really frustrated me when we attempted to do our dressage test. He was never truly soft and supple…he always had that “edge” to him. Now I know that he was Right Brained the whole time!
After taking George through the program (he is my levels horse and my sacrificial lamb!), he showed a dramatic change. His Right Brained behaviors drastically diminished and he began to show more positive Left Brained Extroverted behaviors such as exuberance and playfulness! George was always clever, but now he is even a little devious!
George semi-retirement after a serious case of EPM in his twenties. He completely recovered. But arthritis finally developed to an unmanageable state. George passed away four years ago. He is greatly missed!
Maggie found me as a two-year-old at a Sport Horse auction. I had no business being at the auction—I already George. All of the horses were out of my price range, except for one…a beautiful 2-year-old filly. She was very well bred and moved like a dream. I had always wanted a Warmblood but always ended up with horses that I could afford, off-the-track Thoroughbreds. For some reason, nobody was bidding on Maggie. I felt extremely victorious when I picked her up for a couple of thousand dollars. I found out later the reason that I got such a great deal was because everyone else had had the foresight to visit the sale horses.
Maggie was a very EXTREME Left Brained Introvert with some Right Brained tendencies. She was very aggressive and extremely dangerous. She would rear when unconfident, charge when asked to move away and it was impossible to stand behind her driveline (she kicked). This was her way of dealing with humans. She definitely knew how to intimidate people and I definitely had my work cut out for me!
Maggie was and still is especially challenging to me as she is the opposite of George and Buckley, who were very Right Brained. This was a whole new world to me. Without the Parelli program, I never would have gotten anywhere with her; especially into the trailer! Now she thinks she invented trailer loading. Her Left Brained Extroverted behaviors are not nearly as extreme and she shows more positive behaviors in the Extroverted Left Brain Quadrant. Maggie is now friendlier, more exuberant, playful, and is a willing learner. Using the psychology of the program, I have been able to motivate her to do the most amazing things and she does them because she wants to. You cannot make a Left Brained Introvert do much! Psychology is the key. Maggie is an incredibly sensitive and talented horse that has taught me so much.
She is the most challenging horse that I have ever had. I look forward to our journey together
Buckley galloped into my life (quite literally) four years ago at an Eventing facility in South Texas. His owner came barreling at me on the cross-country course in a full gallop. Of course, I was instantly attracted to him. How could I not be? He was tall, dark and handsome and such a beautiful mover! But his owner needed help…Buckley avoided all jumps (he was supposed to be a jumping horse) as well as avoided arenas (he was supposed to be a stadium jumping horse). So his owner decided to try Eventing and give cross-country a go. A year later, his owner lost interest, but I did not lose interest in Buckley…I ended up buying him.
Buckley was an extreme Right Brained Introvert in every sense of that category! He also exhibited many Right Brained Extroverted tendencies. His previous owner said that he looked for things to spook at; that she could not get on him because he would not stand still…he was scared to death about everything. I was lucky to go through the program with George first, so I knew how extreme, extreme could be!
After taking Buckley through the program, he changed dramatically. All of his Right Brained Introverted tendencies are now mild if not completely gone, and he now exhibits many positive Extroverted/ Left Brained behaviors. He’s playful, friendly and even a little mischievous! He loves to let himself out of his stall as well as Maggie.
Buckley still shows Right Brained tendencies. He is not a very confident learner and is challenged in some environments such as covered arenas with lots of predators! This comes from his show background, and he has come a long way from the days that he would not enter a show arena at all! We play as much as we can everyday to build his confidence and trust in me.
For years Buckley traveled with me to clinics, but now he is retired.
My newest herd member is Patriot—aka “American Patriot.” I never thought that I would breed my mare Maggie, “American Mahogany”, because there are so many horses that need homes. After years though of working with problem horses, I decided that I wanted to breed her to a stallion that I knew would compliment her. And that with the foal I could start it right from the beginning.
I tried to breed Maggie using frozen semen from a stallion in Germany, but it didn’t take. My vet suggested a stallion that was more local. I found a lovely stallion named De Lux, and whala—Patriot!
De Lux is a Grand Prix Dressage horse, an Oldenburg, and a lovely mover. He also has jumping lines, so I thought he would be great as the Daddy of my next Eventing star.
Patriot is definitely a Left Brained Extrovert. I imprinted Patriot when he dropped, and I blew air into his nose on his first breath. I tapped on his hooves, rubbed him with plastic bags, massagers, played with Velcro and exposed him to a variety of different sounds. I rubbed in his mouth and under the tail to make sure he was OK with everything.
After I helped him get up and pointed him to where his first meal was, he wanted to do everything himself. His independence worried his poor Maiden Mare Mom the first couple of days, but now she is used to it! He has already received one bite on the nose from her—a Phase 5—for being too pushy LOL!
After the initial imprinting, the pre-saddle training started. I wanted him to accept the human, but I let him know where the boundaries were—he is not allowed bite, kick, push into pressure, and we are not teaching him any tricks such as jumping on two hind legs and “hugging” us. This is one of the most dangerous things that I have seen people teach foals.
With the help of Nicola Steffanina, my previous assistant of 5 years, we have laid a foundation for success. Patriot has now been started under saddle- he is four- and will soon be starting his show career.