Parelli Natural Horsemanship: The Seven Games

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Seven Games are the basis of true communication with horses. Everything you ask your horse to do—in or out of the saddle—is one of, or a combination of, these Seven Games from Pat Parelli. After learning the basic techniques of each game independently, use some imagination to expand them with a variety of obstacles to have more fun. The better you get at the Seven Games the better your results will be with everything else, and the safer you will be because your horse is now your partner.

The Seven Games are supposed to be studied and played in order. Play 1 before 2, 2 before 3, et cetera. Each game builds on the one before it and they make perfect sense to the horse when presented in their correct order.

Remember to always play the Friendly Game in between tasks, as well as smile and visibly soften when you release.

1. Friendly Game

The Friendly Game is the first of Parelli’s 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.
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2. Porcupine Game

Horses naturally push into steady pressure, moving against it or barging through it. It’s part of their programming for survival. In order to develop a partnership with your horse, you need to help him overcome his fearful, defensive reactions to pressure and learn how to yield and move away from it. I teach this through the Porcupine Game, Game #2 of the Seven Games.
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3. Driving Game

The Driving Game is the third of the Seven Games. It teaches your horse to yield from a “suggestion” with no physical touching involved.
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4. Yo-Yo Game

Have you ever wished that your horse had more suspension, stopped easily with a light cue, could do a sliding stop, moved straighter, or could back up quickly? The Yo-Yo Game is the key to developing all these things in your horse, and more.
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5. Circling Game

The Circling Game helps your horse understand that it is his job to maintain gait, maintain direction, watch where he is going, and all the while stay tuned into you as his center of attention.
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6. Sideways Game

In the Sideways Game, you will learn how to straighten your horse and have him yield laterally with softness and respect.
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7. Squeeze Game

Horses, by nature, are claustrophobic. They are instinctively afraid of small or tight spaces because these areas usually spell disaster for prey animals. The final of Parelli’s Seven Games, the Squeeze Game, teaches your horse to become calmer, smarter and braver, and to squeeze through narrow spots without concern.
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If you enjoyed the Seven Games, check out all Parelli articles.

This article from Pat Parelli about the Seven Games is a web exclusive originally published in January 2012 for Horse Illustrated magazine. Click here to subscribe!

5 COMMENTS

  1. Thank you so much for this article I remember it was once a series one year about the seven games when he was training the mustang for Wahl.

  2. I visited Pat and Linda about 15 years ago or more and now have forgotten the 7 games , now that I am teaching my daughter how to train the filly we have , I needed a refresher , thank you for the article it is all coming back to me . I can’t wait to get started .

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