The Eight Responsibilities
The Eight Responsibilities
There are eight responsibilities in a partnership:
four for the human and four for the horse.
So many people aren't aware of these responsibilities and this is what gives rise to
artificial aids such as harsher bits, martingales and tie downs, etc . because people are
In a partnership, both
partners have mutual
always having to hold horses back from going faster, or to keep them going because
they always want to slow down and stop. In order to have a harmonious partnership -
When horses aren't taught
and harmony is what Level 2 is all about - both horse and human have to learn and
to uphold their
responsibilities people turn
uphold their responsibilities.
to artificial aids of
The Four Responsibilities for the Human
1. Don't act like a predator, become more mentally, emotionally and
There are four for the
2. Have an independent seat.
Don't act like a predator;
3. Think like a horse - man .
Have an independent seat;
4. Use the natural power of focus .
Think like a horse-man;
Use the natural power of
What do each of these really mean?
1. Don't act like a predator.
How does a human act like a predator? Our first thought is usually in terms of being
aggressive toward the horse, but a scared predator is just as worrying to the horse as
an aggressive one . In one sense, the horse feels threatened that you are going after
Horses are equally
disturbed by aggressive or
him ... in the other, he feels you get tight (starting with the hole under your tail), all your
"claws" go in (clutching with your hands on the reins and legs clamping to his sides),
and he still interprets it as threatening because that's what a mountain lion would teel
like when it jumped on his back. Your horse isn't about to interpret whether you are
scared or not, he just feels the result.
Become more mentally,
emotionally and physically
Become more mentally, emotionally and physically fit.
fit. Learn to think before
This prevents you from acting like a predator because you are get in control of your
you react, develop more
thoughts, your emotions and therefore your physical reactions. You can think before
you act, and your reactions are based on the installment of good habits so you do the
right thing at the right time for the right reasons. Its about self control.
Where knowledge ends
This is developed through attitude and
If you are positive and
progressive, you will keep developing your knowledge about the horse so you
Become as knowledgeable
understand his behavioral tendencies and you understand his psychology. The more
as you can get.
knowledgeable you are the more inclined you are to do the right thing at the right time.
Where knowledge ends, force begins.
This means you don't get mean or mad , you don't get scared , you don't get
frustrated , you can stay left brained in the situation and think before you act, and you
have endless patience. Things that were scary to people before they got into the PNH
Being In control of your
emotions is the most
testing thing about Level 2.
Levels Program are probably not nearly as scary any more because of the mental and
emotional fitness they have developed at this point. As you follow the program you
can't help but become more emotionally fit around horses (and it will probably reflect in
Bravery improves through
the Levels Program .
your personal and business lives too . I remember a student who told me she doesn 't
yell at her employees anymore!).
Ground skills helps enormously with becoming more confident with horses, and so
Ground skills build overall
does riding FreeStyle without having to hang on to the reins, especially in passenger
Some external things you can do to stretch your emotional boundaries: bungee
jump, parachute, ride roller coasters, see suspense movies, watch horses playing and
sparring so you are not shocked by natural behavior.
Many of us find ourselves in all different forms of physical fitness or disarray. Either
Physical fitness is
important for safety and
its been a long winter, you've spent more time at your desk or computer than out being
physical or playing with your horse , you've been ill and laid up or had to take drugs
that have dramatically affected your physical shape.
Its important to realize that being out of shape is going to affect your athletic ability
Being out of shape
especially affects your
around horses both on the ground and in the saddle, especially where the
independent seat is concerned . It can limit your advancement to becoming a
horseman just as much as mental or emotional unfitness can.
H you can't or won't go to
the gym, incorporate more
What to do: all kinds of exercise programs are going to help a lot so you might want
to investigate some of these at the gym. If you are the kind of person that has trouble
sticking to these, try incorporating some of the ideas below into your every day life. We
have found many people becoming so much more athletic to the po int that they can
jump up on a 16 hand horse that they could never have done before , just by becoming
Put energy into your step.
more physically active and pushing their boundaries!
• Never walk slow. Put energy into your step every time you move and swing your
arms. You'll find this will not only affect your physical fitness through exercising your
muscles and moving your lymph but also your emotions and general attitude . If you
have a tendency to feel negative or depressed, putting spark into your step will affect
your emotions positively too.
Sedentary behavior will propagate negativity,
depression or feelings of defeat.
• Run whenever you can ... to the mail box, from the barn to the pasture, from you r
car to the barn, etc. etc. You'll start to get fitter and find that it not only becomes easier
but you'll run smoother and faster.
Run whenever you can,
even trom your door to the
Try not to use the gate, go
over, under, through if you
• Climb over, under or through fences instead of using the gate.
• Run up stairs.
• Improve your diet. Rather than trying to eat less, change the quality of what you
eat. Try to make 80 to 90% of your diet comprised of fresh foods rather than canned.
instant or pre-prepared foods; reduce intake of deep fried foods; use pure olive oil
instead of regular oils, butter instead of margarine (which is indigestible);
Improve your diet and
eating habits to get
healthier through beUer
quality foods and by not
reduce intake of desserts, cakes and bakes; limit the amount of bread you eat; try not
to eat instant things - soup, coffee, etc.; eat less red and fatty meat choosing leaner
cuts and smaller servings.
Also, develop good habits around digestion: A sure sign of digestive problems is
sleepiness after meals and food reflux, burping and gas! Some hints: don't drink with
your meals only up to 30 to 60 minutes either side of them (1 to 2 glasses of wine is
excepted because it actually helps digestion and utilization of fats); try to be in a
relaxed state when you eat, chew everything well before swallowing and don't overeat
- stop before you feel really full; eat only when you are hungry;
and finally, don't
combine meat and bread, nor raw fruit and meat. These are just a few examples taken
from a health program in Sydney, Australia which we have found to be simple and non
traumatic to accommodate and have proven quite effective.
Do some stretches to help
flex your inner thigh
• Simple stretches: See if you can improve the stretch of your inner leg muscles, the
adducters that run from your groin down your inner thigh to your knees. You can do
this standing, getting gradually wider and wider until your tolerance is reached and
increasing this over several days and weeks; or by sitting upright on the floor with your
feet against a wall and doing it this way.
Be more conscious of
good posture and sen
• Improve general posture: lift your frame from the diaphragm muscles in your
stomach to improve your self carriage . Your back needs to become straighter and your
shoulders more upright as a habit.
2. Have an independent seat
What does this mean? It means you don't hang on to the reins or grip below your
knees for your balance . It also means your arms, hands and legs can operate
independently of your seat and your seat can be isolated from your legs and your
An independent seat
means you don't use your
reins or grip below the
knee for your balance.
Until you start riding FreeStyle without rein contact and in taking passenger lessons
you probably didn't realize how un-independent your seat really was.
Over the course of Level 2 and Level 3 you will find your seat getting better and
better. You'll be able to zig when the horse zigs, zag when he zags, be in time with his
forward movement and stop without getting thrown forward . Your independent seat
will also improve with the more up and down hill exposure you get, starting to go over
jumps, riding in round corrals without touching the reins, Carrot Stick riding and by
riding bareback a lot.
lmeven ground, riding at all
gaits, going over jumps,
riding bareback, Carrot
3. Think like a horse - man
This means that you consider the horse's point of view and think like a horse in any
given situation before you ever think like a human . As a responsibility you will stop
blaming the horse and looking at how they perceive things and then setting it up to
Always consider the
horse's point of view in
any situation. Think like a
make it easy for the horse to do the right thing.
4. Use the natural power of focus
Focus gives you feel. Focus and feel give you timing. Focus, feel and timing give
Focus gives you feel.
you balance . This is how important focus is! If you can learn to look wh ere you are
Focus and feel give you
going you will start communicating all the right things with the rest of your body. You'll
timing. Focus, feel and
put your hands and legs in all the right places at all the right times in order to elicit the
timing give you balance.
desired responses from your horse. Your focus will tell you exactly what to do and
Keep improving on all your
Every time you are with your horse , you should work on everyone of your four
responsibilities. As you keep progressing in the program these responsibilities will
advance to greater and greater levels.
The Four Responsibilities for the Horse
For the horse ...
1. Don't act like a prey animal
Don't act like a prey
A prey animal gets right brained quick and escapes from pressure . As the horse
gets more mentally and emotionally fit he learns how to be more left brained more of
the time . "Don't just do something , stand there" becomes the modus operandi for the
By being exposed to more and more tasks. the horse learns how to handle himself
in all kinds of Situations. By learning to think his way through imaginative tasks, his
Mental fitness involves the
horse learning to operate
from his left brain more
than the right brain.
mental capacity for dealing with all kinds of things increases significantly. The horse
starts to operate more from his left brain than his right (reactive) brain.
Horses become emotionally unglued very easily because they make a living being
scared! Their ability to perceive danger early and flee from it is what survival is all
Flight from fear is natural
to horses. An emotional
horse gets on adrenaline
about therefore adrenaline is a fact of life. When a horse gets on adrenal ine it can
take him a while to come off it.
Right brain is when horses are reacting out of instinct and self preservation and left
brain is when they are calm and thinking. The sign of a horse becoming more
emotionally fit is one that does not get right brained easily anymore under all kinds of
circumstances , and if he does get on adrenaline can come off it pretty quickly and
become left brain again.
A more emotionally fit
horse operates from his
left brain and has learned
to stay calm.
A horse that is not stressed will have more flexible muscles. Tension gives way to
muscle injuries and an emotionally distraught horse is more susceptible to colic
Emotionally unfit horses
upsets. In addition, right brain behavior carries down to the feet and you'll have a
are more prone to muscle
horse that's more inclined to triP and fumble and slip .
Its important to keep challenging your horse and giving him more and more to deal
injuries and colic upsets
and are more likely to
stumble and trip.
with both on the ground and while riding to continually build emotional fitness. The
more reliable your horse becomes the more you'll be able to do with him and the safer
you both will be .
An unfit horse will not have
the health and endurance
necessary to go to level 3.
Horses that are underweight, overweight or unfit will end up giving you problems.
They will not have the health and endurance necessary to go to Level 3. By working
on the 7 Games, challenging your horse over, under, through things and at all gaits
builds strong and flexible muscles and a strong top line from self carriage . The
problem with lunging and many athletic endeavors with horses is that they emphasize
" you do more forward
than anything else our
horse's muscles will be
forward motion more than anything else . Through the 7 Games you develop a horse
Athletic development goes
by getting forwards, backwards, right, left, up and down equal.
hand in hand with mental
and emotional fitness.
Athletic development goes hand in hand with mental and emotional fitness as well
as a comprehensive program of advancement.
Feeding and digestion
Pay attention to a balanced diet that's as natural as possible , good hydration and
frequent exercise to allow a horse to move himself, activate his respiratory and
Circulatory systems. Parasites are testament to an inefficient digestive system.
We promote an extraordinary equine formula that upgrades the digestive system
and impacts ove rall health by improving nutritional uptake. Symptoms such as mange,
Keep a horse's diet as
simple and natural as
Parasites are testament to
an inefficient digestive
parasite infestation , arthritis, finicky eating , inability to gain and maintain weight, etc.
have all shown incredible improvement.
The hoof factor
Another factor is good hoof care . We recommend a fascinating book and video
called "Hoof Talk" by Bergy Bergeleen an extraordinary farrier who has researched
natural hoof balance and applied it to modern shoeing techniques . His theory
explores the shape of the hairline on the coronet band, pointing out that if it has any
No hoof, no horse.
Check out Hoof Talk by
Bergy Bergeleen, the most
progressive approach to
achieving a natural
unevenness and curves in it this indicates an unlevel hoof and will impact jOints,
balanced, fully supportive
muscles and ligaments as a result, including giving rise to what is known as navicular
and healthy hoof.
syndrome. We have watched as Bergy made lame horses more comfortable in just
one shoeing session by correctly balancing the hoof from front to back so it is under
One of the keys is
the bone column and provides a proper base of support. Short toe , low heel that puts
studying the hairline. "it is
crooked and curved
the frog on the ground makes sure that circulation and pressure are where they belong
and not putting stress on the pastern bones.
Finally, he influences circulation to and thickness and quality of the hoof wall by
creating a shoe that offers some flexibility instead of constricting rigidity. We witnessed
instead of straight this is
our horses moving so much better, more freely and obviously more comfortably almost
an indication of impending
A horse with sore feet is more likely to develop muscular problems in his shoulders,
lameness in the joints,
muscles and ligaments
back and hindquarter because he moves differently to protect himself.
and even so-called
Just like natural horsemanship, Bergy's approach usually involves doing the
opposite of what most farriers do!
With Bergy's method,
(PNH supports Bergy's methods with informative articles in our magazine "Savvy",
most lameness problems
by stocking and referring people to his book and by sponsoring special natural
can be dramatically
shoeing schools with Bergy at the International Study Center for qualified farriers and
Chiropractics and massage can have great beneficial effects on the horse. While
both of these can help remedy an uncomfortable horse, look toward causal factors with
Check out causal factors
that necessitate constant
your vet that may continue to set up these problems, especially if they are on-going.
Get these checked out and don't discount stress, emotional resistance unbalanced
hooves, ill fitting saddles as causal factors too.
Observe your horse as
you play with him.
In playing the Friendly Game and observing your horse during the 7 Games you can
identify difficulties and discomfort in his body.
2. Don't change gaits
Disrespectful horses that have not been taught to uphold their responsibilities are
always changing gaits on you . Either you have to always hold them back from going
faster or you have to keep them going forward . Don't fall into the trap of being your
horse's gait babYSitter!
Teach a horse to maintain his gait by leaving him alone when he's doing what you
want, and coming up your phases when he quits dOing it. Horses learn by making
Don't change gaits ...
A horse that you
constantly have to hold
back or nag to keep going
Is not upholding his
mistakes so don't you make the mistake of trying to prevent your horse from faltering. If
he realizes consequence for his actions he will learn what he did to cause it and
change his behavior. By preventing the horse from breaking gait, he will never learn
the responsibility to maintain it and you'll find yourself working harder and harder while
Allow mistakes and then
correct them the horse will
not learn from prevention.
your horse does less or takes advantage, takes over, takes off.
PurHy of galt leads to
A horse that really learns this responsibility finds ·purity of gair. His gaits actually
improve because he is mentally and emotionally in that gait and his weight is in the
right place (on the front end at a walk, even at the trot, on the hindquarter at the canter
correct weight distribution
and variation within the
and on the front end again for the gallop) so he becomes more athletic and graceful.
Once you have purity of gait you can start to vary the speeds within that gait - slow,
medium and fast, or in dressage terms: collected, working, medium and extended.
Teach your horse through positive and negative reinforcement to maintain the gait
you ask for no matter what: up and down hills, around corners, over jumps, etc. and
only to change it when you ask.
Teach maintenance of gaft
over all terrain.
3. Don't change directions
If you dropped the reins but kept your focus, would your horse stay on track or would
he veer off course? Most would veer off without constant direction from the reins .
Once again we have been babysitting the horse and doing his responsibility for him. A
Don't change directions:
" you drop the reins, yOlA"
horse should not waiver.
horse that knows this responsibility of not changing directions is a dream to ride . You
" you focus Into the
corner, your horse should
can drop the reins, maintain your focus and he will not veer off you r focu s. You could
do long straight lines with a most solid and trusted feeling beneath you .
In Level 2, Games such as the Corners Game, Point to POint, the Clover Leaf, Carrot
Stick Riding , Focus Games and Follow the Rail (in Level 1) teach your horse to
There are many Games to
maintain direction and follow your focus. Getting this responsibility right produces a
horse that is truly straight and from there opens the door to more balanced circles and
corners (no dropped shoulders), straight stops and slides, and flying lead changes.
This responsibility gets
horses truly straight.
4. Look where you are going
Have you ever seen someone pull on the reins and tell a horse to "watch out!" for a
hole in the ground? Do this often enough and not only will your horse stop looking out
Look where you are going:
fo r himself, he'll actually get clumsy footed .
Its your job to look where
you are heading to and
Your job as the leader is to look where you are heading to.
Your horse' s
your horse's job to
responsibility is to look out for whafs in front of or underneath him, don't stop him or
negotiate whatever is in
get in his way just when he's about to negotiate something awkward. If you think of it
like a car, watch the road and not the wheel. If you look at the horse and watch out for
him, he'll stop doing it for himself. And if your horse fumbles when you are riding, don't
grab the reins. Stay balanced and out of the horse's way and allow him the freedom to
do whatever he needs to regain his balance.
Through this program you will challenge this responsibility constantly On Line by
sending your horse over uneven terrain, over,under and between things. The horse
quickly learns to become more sure footed and athletic.
This program will