LESSONS FROM BEHIND THE TEAM
Left Brain Horses vs. Right Brain Horses
In this article I would like to address a common pattern that I see in all students from beginners through higher levels. And to do that I’d like to ask you some questions, but first, let’s make some lists:
When I say “Left Brain Horse”, what do you think of? Make a list in your mind of the first things that come to mind (if you really want to see it then write it down).
Okay, now what about when I say “Right Brain Horse”? Make a list of the first things you think of.
All right? Now here are my questions: Which list has the most positive qualities in it? Which list sounds more negative when you read it out loud?
Here is the pattern I see with a lot of Parelli students --- the list is much longer (and often has more positives) for Left Brain. The list for Right Brain is often shorter or more negative. The lesson I learned at Pat Parelli’s barn by training driving horses for him is that a lot of times the reality is the other way around.
Now before you start writing letters to Parelli saying one of your 3-Star Instructors has gone mad, let me explain myself. First off, I'd like to start with two examples of very different horses that have had a lot of time with Pat: Magic and Casper. Magic is a Right Brain Introvert --- very, very, very sweet and easy to handle. Casper is a Left Brain Extrovert (most of the time). His personality is very difficult to read, and some days I was scared to go near him; he had a very powerful presence.
You are probably wondering where I am going with this. My point is that even though Magic and Casper had the same (or very similar amounts) of time put on them by someone as good as Pat, Casper still has his days, whereas Magic is very sweet even on her bad days. I see this pattern more often than not.
I believe that I see this pattern because Left brain horses get bored/disrespectful easily, so if you are not progressing them all the time with mental challenges, you could get into big trouble. Even Left Brain Introverts tend to have a lot going on in their heads, even if they aren’t always moving their feet!
A Right Brain horse CRAVES constancy, so when they know the pattern they feel very safe. A left brained horse would see what he/she could do to interrupt a pattern, especially if they know it or have done it several times.
At feeding time if a Right Brain horse (Extroverted or Introverted) knows they are not supposed to be pushy with food then they normally won’t be pushy. In some cases they will run around or crib and weave (or other such behaviors) but they never push on you if you set it down as an absolute rule. A Left Brain horse (Introverted or Extroverted) will normally push those boundaries just to see if you are still on your game, ready to correct them, and checking that you are still the leader.
A Left Brain horse is often easier to deal with in the beginning (well not necessarily easier --- maybe “takes less time” is a better way of putting it) than a Right Brain horse simply because they are thinking. If you simply exercise their mind the problems often go away. A Right Brain horse is not thinking to begin with, and are reacting instinctively and not logically. First you need to get them calm and thinking and then normally (again all these things can change in a heart beat) you have to fix the “problems” (normally the horse isn’t the problem but anyway) on a emotional level.
When a horse is forced to become extreme (a very unnatural tenancy), a LB horse will be damaged on a mental level where a RB horse will be damaged on an emotional level.
Ok, so I’d like you to think about people now. If a person is hurt on an emotional level, how long does that take to heal? And what about the person that helped them through that emotional healing process - what does the hurt person feel toward this person after being helped to heal? Often that person becomes very special to them.
Now think of someone who is insulting someone else? It doesn’t affect them on an emotional level but they certainly notice it might cause them to become sharper or quicker to get back at that person in future. This is similar to LB and RB horses. A Left brain horse will always test you, but to be honest, would do fine without you. Often, it is just easier with you around (particularly for a LBI) but a Right Brain horse will feel that they NEED you to feel safe because you are the person that “saved them”.
I tend to find that RB horses are harder in the short term and easier in the long run and vice-versa for LB.
Okay --- after reading this I would like you to re-write your lists.
Which one has more positives now?
You might find that you still prefer LB to RB. You might see that you started with RB and still like RB, but whichever type of horse you prefer is simply a refection of your skill, character, and personality. Just remember that there are equal positives and negatives for both kinds of personalities, and just because I enjoy RB horses doesn’t mean that they are your style. Oh, and one last thing, do not forget it is our job as humans to help bring out the positives in every horse’s personality, and in doing so, become the best we can be.
Keep it Natural,