Category Archives: Q&A

Luca Moneta

Luca Moneta is one of the rare horsemen who have successfully competed, while sticking to natural principles (horsemanship). He always puts his horse first. I absolutely adore his work, even though I am absolutely not a fan of show jumping. He takes on challenging horses, works with them using his horsemanship, and takes them to high level competitions.

Unknown photographer I own no rights to this photo

Unknown photographer
I own no rights to this photo

Inspiring, no??

And not an easy task. I have been following Moneta over the years – I remember reading about him when he was first working with the Parellis. He went to a few of their tours to make presentations, as well. I don’t think he’s as active in the “Parelli world” anymore, but I still read every article I see about him and watch all of his videos.

Here’s a recent interview with Luca Moneta that I just love!


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Filed under Horses, Humans, Inspiration and Idols, Q&A, Video Discussion

Timing Your Rewards For Optimal Results

“Rub a horse to reward him”, “Let him rest, release pressure, and he’ll be happy.” or “A horse (or dog) will do anything for a cookie.”

While this is true, it’s deceiving. There’s timing involved. Some dogs couldn’t care less about treats (I have two of those at the moment!). If you’re boring your horse half to death, a rest isn’t at all a reward. The opposite, actually!

Although you mean well, a rest would only be a release or a reward of some sort if the horse had been doing something physically or mentally challenging, etc. prior. If I get into the habit of doing the same thing with my animal every day, over and over again, they’re going to just hate it. Then to say, “And now… guess what?? You get to stand still as a reward!!”

That’ll get you a snort and an eye roll.

Then if you were asking your horse to do something new, exciting, or just challenging, they’ll be looking for that rest… It’ll feel so good to finally stand still, that it will help move your training along at full speed. Same goes for the good old rub and pat. If I’m constantly rubbing my horse, it could get annoying.

Some horses love it of course, but it also needs to be well-timed. We should remember: when it comes to these things, not all animals react well to the same reward. Just like humans – some like loud, excited applauses and other like a nice smile of recognition. One isn’t better than the other, they just come across differently to different people.

If I don’t go petting a certain horse all over, that doesn’t mean I don’t like him or he didn’t “deserve” it. Usually that horse just doesn’t like it – it annoys or agitates him, or he simply doesn’t find it comforting. Sometimes a reward is only rewarding when we really earned it. Not just rewarded every five minutes for doing close to nothing.

Take it away, Glenn Stewart:

“A rest for a horse when they are looking for one is a release. A rub when they are looking for one is a release. A well timed rub or rest after a horse has been physically and mentally stimulated becomes somewhat of an addiction for them and something they look for and crave rather than something they have to put up with.”

- Glenn Stewart

Glenn Stewart

Glenn Stewart

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Filed under Behavioral musings, Dog-Horse Similarities, Handling Emotions, Human & Animal Interactions, Q&A, Teaching Tricks

“Softness Issue?”

“I have a gelding who will not back in a halter. I at first thought it was just the fact that he wasn’t used to being ridden bitless, so I tried in a snaffle, and then a mild curb, and nothing will get him to back up. I’ve tried lateral flexion with a snaffle, and nothing seems to be working. Would you be able to give any ideas?”

- Anonymous

When we ask a horse to back up, we’re asking them to be confident and use their brain. They really have to think, because they are more comfortable going forward, as all flight animals are. Seeing it as this, a concept, we have to ask how are we asking for a back up. Not: with what am I asking for a back up. While our tools greatly influence how we communicate, it really comes down to our savvy.

That out of the way, I always recommend staying bitless (in a knotted halter, bitless bridle, etc) until the horse completely understands what you’re asking for and responds to the lightest request from you. From the way you asked, I’m assuming you are talking about riding – have you tried backing your horse up on the ground? If so: how, and is that working?

Lateral flexion will not directly help your backup. That is asking your horse to bend, when what you really want is for your horse to move backwards and they have to be straight for that. When I ask a horse to back up I:

  1. Think about backing up (through our thoughts, our body can send subconscious signals to our horse). Pull my weight backwards (imagine pulling your belly button to your spine).
  2. Lift up my reins and add a light backwards pressure – starting extremely light and slowly adding pressure.
  3. Hold it until even just onefoot moves and then immediately relax and let the reins fall. Then I relax for a moment with my horse.
  4. Repeat and after a while ask for more and more steps. Be patient, be light, and do it with an “enjoy the journey” attitude!

If you would like to get more detailed, personalized advice, please send me a short video of you and your horse attempting the back up so that I can get a better feel for what might be getting in your way.

I also recommend that you look up parelli videos on Youtube on how to get your horse to back up or do the “yo-yo game” on the ground and riding. I’m sure you’ll get many ideas from that. Good luck!

- Humanima

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Filed under Horses, Human & Animal Interactions, Q&A