My personal favorite: Moving the Herd

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Focus your attention on the area of the heart… and say yes if you find horses there! 

Today I will tell you about the second activity that helps you to tap into the empowering energy of horses. Everybody at Horse Guided Empowerment® loves this activity, even though it can cause some controversial discussion. It clearly is my personal, all-time favorite thing to do with my herd. We all enjoy it. But… 

When I shared a video of me moving my herd, one person was really triggered by me showing a Parelli Stick in the video and thinking I was chasing the horses. You can read it on my Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/p/CSCMz43gMt5/ 

Thankfully, several facilitators jumped in and helped me explain the situation. What I most loved was this part:

Quote: “Horses KNOW. They know exactly what your intentions are. They do not associate violence with a stick. They read the person, they know you and me better in the speed of light.”

In my course for Horse Guided Empowerment® facilitators, my students have to do this activity themselves, before they even think about offering it to clients. It is quite challenging because it puts your intention on the stand. You will learn to become assertive, without becoming aggressive. Your herd will learn to play with you in a respectful way.

Ready? OK! Let´s move that herd!

Some things to start with: 

  1. This activity, such as everything else we do in a session with horses, is based on natural horse behavior and free will of participation. We do this in a big arena, not in a small round pen where the horses have no choice. If one of them doesn´t want to play – he´ll just stay in the periphery. 
  2. Your horses need to know what the Parelli Circling game is, and be really solid in it. You should be able to move a single horse individually, without a lead rope, in a wide circle around you. You should know about the body language and intention it takes to accomplish this. 
  3. This activity is energizing and highly extroverted. It is NOT about chasing the horses around for an hour. It is about communicating an invitation to play and run (which is natural for a horse), while you calmly give assertive directions from the center of the paddock. 
  4. Your horses need to be familiar with the Parelli stick or flag and tolerate it touching their bodies without getting scared. 
  5. When our clients do this activity, we don´t teach technique. We teach INTENTION. Once the horses pick up that we want them to move, it gets easy. 

I will guide you through this activity, step-by-step, for you to successfully try it out with YOUR HERD, YOURSELF. Please, do not facilitate this with clients unless you have proper training. It’s significantly more simple to apply it with someone you know really well (= yourself) than with a client.

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The path to success Here are the ingredients

Ingredients: 2-10 well-bonded horses; a Parelli stick, or flag; an assertive you

Where: a big, safe paddock known to the horses

What for: re-charging for extroverts, decision making, assertiveness, body language

First of all, picture the outcome. 

Do you imagine the horses trotting around you? Or cantering? Will one of them lead the group, or are they running together? Do you picture a race? You shouldn´t!
What we want is a smooth movement of the herd, not crazy racing.

Yes, it is possible. 

Find the energy inside you. Maybe it sits in your belly, or in your chest.
Visualize it, and bring it to the surface.
Believe in yourself. Enjoy this.

Be respectfully encouraging:

This is Love + Power;

Empathy + Assertiveness

Encourage a lead horse, or the entire group of horses to move. You can walk towards them, and wiggle the stick or flag in the air. DO NOT hit your horses with it. The stick is a tool that helps you communicate. Horses are long and have a big range of movement from head to tail. Humans are tall. The stick helps us to influence a bigger space.

Then, you send the horses out on the circle. You can say something encouraging like “Lets go!”, or make a kissing sound, or do canter jumps yourself. Your intention of getting the horses to move is more important than the technique.

Horses communicate with telepathic, emotional messages. Whatever you feel, your horse will pick it up. Don´t be angry, just be energetic. 

Once the herd starts to move, direct them like you would direct a single horse in the circling game. Your stick hand controls speed, your other hand gives direction. My horses stay in motion until I ask them to do otherwise, but that is another level. Move with them, and then stop your body, stop your mind, and invite the horses in your mind to stop as well. You can also bow or kneel as you would do in a Parelli Circling game. They will most likely slow down, come over or at least look at you, interested in more invitations.

Below you can see an example of my student Dana Al Gosaibi from Saudi Arabia, moving her horses. She does a great job! It´s both assertive, and calm. 

Troubleshooting

    1. I have one horse and he lives in a stall
      So happy that you are reading this! Give your horse a gift, will you? Bring him to the riding arena, and let him run free. Then, start to direct his movements. Signal him where to go, to speed up, or to slow down. Play!
      And try to find a horse buddy who can join in next time. 
    2. My horses do not move at all
      Can you do the circling game with one of them? Try this first. Then add one more, and one more. It may be easier to focus on the lead horse instead of asking the entire herd at once. That takes practice. 
    3. My horses run to a corner and watch me from there
      Your herd is probably scared of you and/or the stick. Make sure to do a lot of Parelli Friendly Game, and also analyze your own energy. Are you scared or angry? Try again on a day when you are playful. Learn to modulate your energy up and down and use just the right amount of energy to move your herd. Start slowly, then build up to faster movement. 
    4. My herd does a lazy half-loop and goes back to grazing
      Is your intention clear? Are you energetic or did you just try half-heartedly? Horses read our intention (seriously! There are studies about it). Be more assertive, be clear in your ask, and motivate them a little more.  
    5. My herd stares at me, then avoids me
      I´d say you have second thoughts about this activity. That´s fine, nobody has to do it! If you believe this is not OK for your herd, don´t do it. If you are scared they could run over you, find an instructor for the Circling Game and start there. 
    6. You don´t get this activity and you don´t want to hurt them
      Relax, that´s not what I am asking! In the wild, horses graze, they rest, they walk, they play-run and they flee-run. You are inviting them to play-run. Imagine you do a sprint on the beach with your friend, just for fun. You are not running away from something. You are just moving your body. Afterward you feel energized, happy, and alive.
      Horses need unconfined movement in their life, but without an active herd, they don´t often get invited to it. They will be releasing the tension, they exercise, and they will express themselves joyfully.

 

Don´t forget: As always, your safety and that of your horses go first. This activity might be too much for you. That´s OK! Don´t rush it. Contact me or another trainer if you need more help. I am in this for over 30 years, I have moved dozens of herds during my workshops and seen thousands of people succeed at it. It´s easier than you think but your mind might sabotage you. Reach out, let me help you!

And now, respectfully go out and play with your herd. I am sure it will connect you in a lovely way.
Oh, and if you record it, use the tag #movetheherdchallenge

Did you know that we have an entire course for riders and horse people to create a better relationship with your horses by teaching you how to be a better human for them? Check it out below… 

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