Parelli Natural Horsemanship: The Friendly Game


1. Friendly Game
The Friendly Game is the first of the Seven Games because nothing beats a good first impression. When you want to meet someone, how would you first approach him? I like to think about introducing myself to a horse as positively as I would to another person.

It is, without a doubt, the most important of the Seven Games. You need to play it with your horse first, before anything else, and then you need to continue to play it before, during and after each of the other Seven Games. 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.

I start by rubbing the horse in a pleasurable way wherever he will allow me. I begin with these areas and gradually move to the ones he feels more defensive about. When the horse is no longer defensive, he is telling me that he trusts his body in my hands. From there, I increase the stimulus to see how much the horse can stand. I swing ropes. I skip around. I jump up and down. I stagger around until the horse gets desensitized. All the while I have a smile on my face and a non-threatening, relaxed body language. I persist through the process until the horse becomes confident and relaxed. To leave the horse feeling scared is just not fair.

(NOTE: The Friendly Game can also refer to using the method of approach and retreat.)

Click here to watch a video of Pat Parelli demonstrating how he works with a new horse.

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