The Seven Games
The Seven Games are a systematic approach to establish a communication between horses and people. It is based on the same games horses use to establish friendship and dominance. The horse that consistently “wins” all Seven Games becomes alpha.
It's our responsibility to become our horse's leader. We have to teach him to become calmer, braver, smarter, more athletic, to trust our judgment, try whatever we ask him without resistance, yield to or from pressure , negotiate obstacles, go sideways and back up with ease. The Seven Games will help us to do this.
Every single thing we do with our horses, no matter whether from the ground or in the saddle, is one game or a combination of the seven games.
Click the "Plus" icon to explore: The Principle Games
Think of these games as the alphabet. In order to learn a language. you first need to gain an understanding of the basics!
This game is all about gaining and keeping your horse's trust, confidence and relaxation. It is listed as number one and is the foundation of Parelli horse training because without trust, confidence and relaxation horses can't learn.
It is the most important game to play with horses who are skeptical and tense. This game is played between other games to ensure that the horse is not afraid of you or your tools.
You can play the Friendly Game with your 12- foot lead rope, with a Carrot Stick, with your bare hand or with anything you have. Play it from the tip of your horse’s ears, inside his mouth, down all his legs to the end of his tail. There is no part of your horse’s body you should not be able to be friendly with.
The Porcupine Game teaches your horse to yield to and from steady pressure. You play the Porcupine Game when leading your horse, moving your horse backwards or away from you, as well while riding through your leg and rein aids. You teach this game to your horse through using four distinct phases of polite assertiveness:
- Phase One: Lightest possible (press the hair like a fly is landing)
- Phase Two: Slighly firmer (press the skin, as a big bug would land on your horse)
- Phase Three: Slighly firmer (press the muscle, as a crow would land on your horse)
- Phase Four: As firm as necessary to get a response (press the bone, like an eagle would land on your horse)
The instant the horse responds, release all pressure. Pressure motivates, but it's the release that teaches! The goal is that you need no more than 100 grams to move your horse wherever you want him to go.
The Driving Game teaches your horse to yield from rhythmic pressure without touching him. It is meant to influence the personal space around a horse. It teaches the horse to follow a suggestion, and you will be able to influence your horse's direction and action from a distance. You teach this game to your horse through using four distinct phases of polite assertiveness:
- Phase One: Start as lightly as possible ( energy up, tap the air)
- Phase Two: Progressively increase the pressure (move toward the horse)
- Phase Three: Progressively increase the pressure (move toward the horse, get ready to tap the horse)
- Phase Four: As firm as necessary to get a response (tap the horse)
The moment the horse begins to yield, soften to a phase one or stop. The rule is: Apply the pressure gradually and release quickly.
Click the "Plus" icon to explore: The Purpose Games
If we think of the first three games as the alphabet, games 4-7 are like forming words. The principles of pressure and release and the use of the four phases stays the same!
The Yo-Yo Game equalizes backwards and forwards, and develops straightness. It’s essential to transitions and promotes engagement of the hindquarters. In Level 1 you simply teach your horse to back up straight while you are standing still and just wiggle your finger at him and then ask him to come back to you. Later on, it will help you to develop good impulsion, straight lines and equal transitions while riding. Piaffe, Passage and Sliding Stops are Yo-Yo games at its highest level.
The Circling Game sends the horse around you and teaches him to come back to you. It also teaches him the responsibility of continuing to circle without being reminded, to maintain his gait, direction and to look where he is going. It is a game that teaches - and tests - partnership. It consists of 3 parts:
The send: You Yo-yo your horse out and then send him on a circle with a driving game of the front end
The allow: You allow your horse to do the circle/s while staying absolutely neutral – its your horse's job to maintain gait and direction and where to put his feet
The bring back: by disengaging your horse's hindquarters, you ask your horse to come back to you.
The Sideways Game develops the skill of moving sideways. This is important for useful things like opening gates, as well as building suspension for lead changes. You will start on the ground asking your horse to move sideways away from you in front of a fence or wall and progress all the way to shoulder-ins and half passes.
The Squeeze Game encourages the horse to be brave. It also helps him to overcome his innate claustrophobia by learning to squeeze under, over and between obstacles. This is valuable for things like the shower, trailers, gates, veterinary examination stock, jumping obstacles, narrow passageways on trail rides, water crossing. At first you simply teach your horse to pass between you and a wall, then turn and face and think about it. You will progress all the way to sending your horse into the trailer at a canter on the end of the 45 foot Lariat Rope.