Step One: "At Liberty:"
This clip took place over a 45-minute session, and shows the early stages of using "Pressure and Release" to establish connection with a wild horse. The horse is tiny, but older than he looks (due to a lot of Pony ancestry - he's about 10 - 12 months old here) and very wild. He's in an 80-foot diameter round pen, so there is nothing I can do to force him to pay attention - I have to use my own body language and energy to draw him to me. This process takes longer than the usual method of confining the horse to a small pen (actually we would have used the smaller pen but it was "busy" holding a 6-year-old rescue horse at the time), or having a halter and rope attached to him at the adoption site, but it allows the horse time to accept and understand each step of the way, and to develop trust, which in turn allows quicker progress later on in the training process. 
It is easy to see places where I could have done better - could have taken my time in some places, could have released quicker in others, could have stuck with it longer in still others. So this clip also shows how amazing wild horses are, in that they can make progress even if you aren't The Horse Whisperer!

This process allows the horse to progress at its own rate, without forcing anything. Any progress comes from the horse's own will to cooperate with the human in this new environment. This process takes a while, however, and progress is shown in small things such as how close he will come in to circle around me. At first he stays out on the fenceline, then gradually comes in closer and closer.

At the end of this clip I am able to reach out and touch him with the lunge-whip, using it as an extension of my arm. I am also able to very loosely loop the whip string around his neck, to introduce the very early basics of leading.

Wild horses tend to be so light at this stage that it takes almost no pressure to get them to take a step. The looseness of the string around him prevents my pressure from getting any higher, as the string will slip off if I try to pull. Lesley Neuman first introduced me to this method, and mainly Jerry Tindell has helped me over the past several years to learn and improve my skills and understanding of horses.

  Step Two: Still At liberty, but moved to a smaller pen.

This clip picks up from #1, and takes place a few days later. At this point Piney has been moved to a smaller 12 x 12 ft. square pen with shelter - the usual BLM regulation gentling pen. He is able to allow me much closer and allows a tiny bit of touching. Otherwise it is the same process of pressure and release.

  Step Three: First Leading Lesson, using a makeship rope "halter"

He is almost ready to get a real halter and lead rope put on him, but not quite. the makeshift temporary rope is the transition from purely at liberty to being haltered in the usual way.

  Working With Feet #2 (#1 hasn't been edited yet - that would be the first steps of working from the safety of distance, using a rope, lungewhip and bamboo pole, to start getting him comfortable with having his feet handled)

In this clip, Piney the Pine Nut Pony has come a long way from the first "Gentling Piney" series, and is almost ready to lift his feet for cleaning and trimming. Note that he doesn't get to yank his feet away from me - he has to wait to put them down when I let him, and I only let him when he softens and quits trying to take them from me. On the other hand, I only start this process when I feel he is soft and willing to allow it. Before getting to this stage, one should do a lot of rope work with the feet, moving his feet with a looped soft rope, and touching the feet and legs from the safety of distance, using rope, lungewhip, or bamboo pole, which I did, but this clip does not show that earlier stage.

  Parade of Mustangs - Napa Mustang Days 2009 - including Piney and Sparky, Ruby & Benny

Piney has learned to be ponied by Sparky, and he is calm despite the stimulation and excitement of being in an arena with lots of other horses and people, and having a loudspeaker and live audience.

  Jerry Tindell riding Sparky to work a 2-year-old Mustang from Horseback


Piney's First Ride

  Teaching the Bow - First Lesson -

For this method to work (and there are LOTS of ways to teach a horse to bow - this is just one) you need to already have a good back-up and a generally soft, trusting and compliant horse.


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