Like humans all horses are different, and their training needs to be adapted to suit them, not the trainer! Parelli call it "horseanalities" and this is such a great phrase. Cookie cutter training will produce robots not willing partners. We like our horses to be our partners!
Take Archie (my personal horse) to get inside his head and find the best horse you have, you need to provide him with safety. He came from a nearby ranch that used "Old school methods" (unfortunately many so called "Horsemen" use these outdated and harsh ways), the experience all but destroyed him. Thank god i found Parelli Natural Horsemanship and was able to bring him out of the shell that he was hiding deep inside. Now we can train without using ropes and he has a willing look on his face instead of a petrified one. We always say, take off the ropes and you will get the truth, will the horse stay with you or leave?
Horses are a prey species and humans are a predator species, to really get inside of horses mind you have to think like a horse. Take Moro for instance, he is a firm favorite with our guests, but when it comes to training you have to work out what is important to Moro, in a word.....FOOD! A little treat here and there can transform him from the sulking teenager at the back of the class to the swot at the front with his hand up every 10 seconds. He would jump through fire hoops for a little cookie!
Coco on the other hand is a different kettle of fish, she wants to play, walk her near the podium and she will stand on it, leave a barrel out and she will roll it around. She loves to solve puzzles, and the more the merrier. She was sold to us by a sniggering cowboy who figured he had one over on us, they had her labelled as mean. She wasnt mean, she was bored!! Going around in mindless circles just made her mad. Now Julia our guide can ride her with the reins laying on her neck, not in her hands, just using her body as she takes out the tours. She is so clever, we just have to keep her stimulated.
On the other end of the scale, you have our amazing baby sitter Whiskey, he takes care of everyone that rides him and they love him. When it comes to training with Whiskey, he needs time to mull things over, he is a little slower to work things out (just like people can be) but once he gets it with no pressure or bullying from us to get the job done, you can see the happy look on his face. He is a horse that could easily have turned mean in the wrong ranch. Pat Parelli has a great saying, "When you touch your horse, put your heart in your hand." This is so true and something we remind ourselves of everyday when working with our horses. This doesnt mean you smother them in only love, this would be as detrimental as beating them to do something. We use Love, Language (their language not ours) and Leadership in equal doses. The result? The most willing, happy and contented tour horses on the planet. We love each and everyone of them for being exactly who they are!