Polite and passive persistence - Green ball breakthrough

It took us 2 years to tackle the scariness of the green ball. I must confess I never gave Juliano enough time to conquer his fears. I always reckoned he is too scared and I didn't want to push him. Yesterday we finally got over our fears: Juliano's fear of the ball, my fear of pushing him of a cliff.

Here's how it went over these 2(!) years:

First Juliano was scared to death. There was no way he would approach the ball and if I tried to encourage him he would back up and I couldn't stop him to back up. Joanna helped me one day and did a circling game and squeeze game with Juliano next to the ball. He got a bit more confident but he was still very right-brain.

No Way!

Then I just gave up, I didn't know any better. After some time I've got Juliano a rock'n'roll ball which you can put treats into and if the horse rolls it they pop out. He was scared of that too but when he saw Dum eating treats next to the ball he decided to give it a go. Now the ball is his and he will not share it with anyone not even Dum. So we've got Dum a second ball. First time Juliano was very frustrated and was running from one ball to another and attacking Dum. He soon figured out a way to roll the balls close together and keep both of them for himself.

This year I bought a big Parelli Green Ball and started working with that. I've decided to use the same tactics as with the rock'n'roll ball, make it about reward and use Juliano's food orientation. I covered it with molasses and soon both Juliano and Dum were drawn to it like bears to honey. Juliano was fine with rolling the ball but if the ball rolled on its own or was pushed by someone he would run away. So the ball in motion was still a big issue.

Yesterday I've planned to be persistent. Juliano was very right-brain at first so I took the time he needed. We approached and if I could feel him getting close to his threshold I would retreat. Than a friend came to talk to me. Over the time I was doing the talking, Juliano was doing the thinking and vuala, after my friend left Juliano was ready to sniff the ball. From there it went nose-neck-maybe the feat and soon Juliano was pushing the ball himself. I encouraged him to follow me with the ball between us. He would kick the ball and follow it. At the end Juliano kicked the ball into a big puddle. Now, this was a challenge! Before, he was not very happy about both balls and puddles. But this time he went into the water and pushed the ball onto dry land. I guess the Green Ball is not a threat to us any more.

It's funny, because when I've heard Pat say "polite and passive persistence" I thought "Ok, this makes sense". I thought I knew what I knew but I didn't. To really understand and know you have to go out there and make it happen. Juliano taught me that today. If I didn't go passive I'm sure I would have quit at some stage and we would be back at square 1!


  1. That's sooo cool!! I love your molasses idea! Great thinking! What camera do you use? Nice pictures!!!