A horse is seriously claustrophobic. When
he feels trapped, he gets scared, and then
he panics. What we have to teach him is to
become braver, less claustrophobic and less
panicky. Going back to the elevator example,
wouldn't you have to prove to the claustro-
phobic person that he is safe?
Allow him to look in and run away again and
again until he is convinced that it's really
okay. Then you could shut the door for longer
and longer periods and he'd stay comfortable.
This is exactly how you would handle a claus-
trophobic horse, which means ALL horses.
Here's how I would naturally help the horse to
override his fears and become more mentally
and emotionally fit.
Prove That You are a Friend
First, I prepare the horse by playing The
Friendly Game, the first of The Seven Games.
I make sure that I can approach him as a
friend, rub him all over and be kind and per-
sistent until he relaxes and accepts me. I then
expand this game to where I can hold him on
a loose lead rope and casually throw the end
of my 12-foot lead or 6-foot Savvy String over
his back, around his legs and over his head
without worrying him. This may take some
passive persistence if the horse panics first.
Just remember to keep up your actions with
rhythm, especially while the horse panics,
and don't stop until he stops.
The reason for holding the horse instead of
tying him is to allow him to drift around if he
feels the need. When scared, a horse has to
move his feet. If you prevent that movement,
you'll contribute to his claustrophobia.
So, let him drift around. Drift with him, keep-
ing his nose pointed toward you. Keep up
the stimulation that's bothering him until he
realizes that he's really okay. Horses love
comfort. If you stop the stimulation at the
right time, the horse will learn that by stand-
ing still, he gains comfort. If you stop at the
wrong time, you'll teach him to be scared.
Look for part 2 in our Next Issue!
Parelli coined the term "natural
horsemanship" and founded his program
based on a foundation of love, language and
leadership. Parelli Natural Horsemanship
allows horse owners at all levels of
experience to achieve success with their at-
home educational program. Together with
his wife Linda, Pat has spread PNH across
the globe with campuses in the United
States, United Kingdom and Australia. //