2021 Progress Your Horsemanship Member’s Challenge



2021 – Commit to progressive horsemanship

Member’s Challenge

Natural Horsemanship can be defined as the perpetual series of habits and skills that horses and humans need to become partners. 

Horses are pattern animals, and over time it is easy to adjust to their patterns and adopt habits that you may not even realize have developed. 

This 31 day challenge is going to be a soft dose of variety to get you out of your patterns or habits and really feel for your horse. Some of the challenges may be difficult, and that’s ok. Remember to have a clear goal, and to adjust to fit the situation. If you aren’t being understood by your horse, adjust to become more clear. 

Let us know how you’re doing by emailing photos or videos to savvyclub@parelli.com or use #Parelli21 on social media. 


Click on an image to enlarge.



Catching and Rapport

1/1 – Are you playing Catching Game?  Does your horse catch you in the pasture, in the stall, or are you just walking up to them and haltering them because they tolerate it?  Be sure you’re always asking them to participate in the partnership. The session starts the moment they see you.  The start matters!

1/2 – Can your horse trot to you?  Are you coaxing them to come to you, or have you created enough draw that your horse can’t get enough of you?


The Seven Games

1/3 – Can you use long body logic versus pulling?  Horses herd each other around, they don’t pull.  Be sure you’re using your tools (Carrot Stick, Training Lines, fence lines, etc) to herd and guide your horse vs being direct line and pulling them everywhere you go.  Consider the Touch It Pattern as a good first step.

1/4 – Can you act like a partner? What does your horse NEED? Are you staying focused and giving your horse their needs of Safety, Comfort, and Play in your play sessions, or are you focused on your fears, the desire to be perfect, etc? Focus on your horse and help them act like partners, not prey animals as you commit to not acting like a predator.

1/5 – Can you use a 45′ Line?  Try moving to a longer rope today, allow your horse the opportunity to read your body language from further away.


Tying, Trailering, Water Crossing

1/6 – Can your horse stand tied for 30 minutes?  This is an important skill for your horse.  If your horse is impatient and paws, just stand nearby and be ready to interrupt the pattern. If 30 minutes is too long, expand the amount of time, a little bit each day.  Don’t avoid tying your horse.  Use a safe knot, a blocker tie ring, and help your horse learn this skill.

1/7 – Can you load your horse from the fender? Test and improve the quality of understanding by asking your horse to load from different areas.

1/8 – Can you back your horse through a creek?  When your horse is challenged, does it resist, or does it yield?  Improve the quality of yielding putting the basics to the test.  Back your horse through a small creek, or use a pole if don’t have a creek.


Accept the Saddle 

1/9 – Can you saddle your horse with the rope on the ground? It is not wrong to tie your horse when saddling, but you shouldn’t have to tie them to saddle. 

1/10 – Can you saddle your horse at Liberty? Yesterday you had a safety net, today you have the truth. Does your horse truly accept the saddling process? Watch your horse’s thresholds and retreat and re-approach as necessary. 

1/11 – Can you place a ball on your horse’s back for 7 seconds? Bounce the ball beside your horse, then place it on your horse’s back. If your horse gets worried, keep bouncing as you back away from your horse, this will help him get more confident. 


Accept the Mounting 

1/12 – Can you have your horse sidle up when mounting? Does your horse pick you up from the mounting block? Ask your horse to bring their hips towards the mounting block so you don’t have to stretch so far and you know that your horse is participating in the whole process. 

1/13 – Can you mount from the ground? We love mounting blocks to save our horse’s backs, but you need to know you can get on from anywhere. Mount from the ground from time to time to test your horse’s commitment to standing still. 

1/14 – Can you mount from both sides? Unless you ride with a sword, we don’t always have to mount from the left side. Ask your horse to solve puzzles by mounting from the right side. 


Accept the Rider

1/15– Can you lay across your horse? Yes, keep your feet together and jump up and lay on your horse. Does he walk off, or stand there?

1/16 – Can you guide your horse with a Direct Rein? When directing the nose of your horse, do they follow the feel or pull against you? Yields should be soft and harmonious. 

Accept the Bit 

1/17 – Can you bridle your horse from a chair? Ask your horse to participate in the bridling process by sitting in a chair. 

1/18 – Can you ask for a “Soft Feel” without your horse backing up? Ask your horse to yield to pressure in Zone 1 without over reacting. Go through the process for the 9-Step Backup, but stop at Step 6. 


1/19 – Can you lead by the tail, in an “S” pattern? You may have taught your horse to back straight, but now see if they can truly follow a feel by weaving a small “S” Pattern. 

1/20 – Can you play Stick to Me, walk, trot, and canter? Don’t just walk and trot, see if you can ask your horse to canter beside you. 

1/21 – Can you ask for sideways then immediately follow with Friendly Game? This is a good test as your horse will have to read your energy. Exaggerate your “life up” and “life down” so your horse starts to read your intention easier. 

FreeStyle – 

1/22 – Can you make four Walk-Trot and Trot-Walk transitions without using your reins? If walk to trot is too much, just do walk-halt for now. This Yo-Yo game is a good test of impulsion and creating effective seat connection. 

1/23 – Can you ride two Question Box patterns and only touch the reins four times? Your focus is the sweet spot. Be sure you’re using your reins as phase 4, not phase 1. Remember: Eyes, Belly Button, Leg, Rein

1/24 – Can you ask for lateral flexion for 15 seconds on each side? Don’t just ask your horse to bend it’s neck, see if your horse will truly relax when you ask for lateral flexion. Get in the habit of waiting for the horse to relax vs teaching the horse to snatch by releasing too quickly. 


1/25 – Can you place each foot on a marker? Yes, Finesse is all about precision. Precisely place each foot on a marker. 

1/26 – Can you trot a Figure 8 Pattern without your reins bouncing? With Finesse, the reins communicate feel, feel is steady pressure, not rhythmic pressure. Be sure your reins aren’t too tight, but not so loose that they bounce. 

1/27 – Can you make upward transitions without your horse’s head moving? If your horse is accepting the connection, the head should stay nice and calm in your transitions. If your horse throws its head in the transitions, be sure your fingers or hands aren’t too tight and creating a hard feel. 


1/28 – Can you drag an object? You might simply start with a rope draped over your horses back while your drive from Zone 3, but is your horse confident in dragging an object? 

1/29 – Can you follow a moving target? Following a moving target may create anxiety, just play retreat and re approach until your horse is confident following moving targets. 

1/30 – Can you back your horse up a hill? The hill is going to challenge your horse’s commitment to backing up. Use the hill to improve your backup. 

1/31 – Can you go sideways over a log? The log will help to improve your straightness as your horse isn’t able to drift quite as much without bumping into the log.