First of all; brave of you to jump the gap between Parelli and Natural Haute Ecole!
I've done L1 and 2 with Blacky about a year ago in order to be able to write an article about it for the horse magazine I work for, and I was quite impressed by the thoroughness of the program. And I do like the idea of the Seven games, because all in all they are nothing more or less than the basics every horse needs to know to be safe to be around.
However (as you can guess
) I didn't like the fase-system. It worked really fast during the teaching of the games, but Blacky didn't like it at all, so I decided not to go above fase 2 anymore and combine that with foodrewards (as we had been clickertraining for years already. That worked even better.
The thing is that you can't just quit using fase 3 and 4 and expect the same results. Because the simple thing is that the main motivator for the horse - avoid punishment - is then gone. So when you do stop giving fase 3 and 4 (or stop doing things that you know your horse thinks are annoying), your horse will start to give less sharp responses, or stop responding at all. You need to find a new motivator to let him work for. That can be foodrewards, hugs and cuddles, grazing or running around together, but just leaving him alone won't stimulate him enough anymore, because as you left out the punishment, he doesn't seek to avoid your attention anymore. That might sound a bit harsh, but basically it's how it works when viewed from the horse if you do use fase 3 and 4 to teach him things.
Instead you need to make being with you
and doing things with you fun. That will probably mean that you'll have to tilt your training schedule, because you can't get by far as much 'work' done as you can when using pressure. Now you have to inspire your horse to work with you. And to do that first he needs to learn that being with you, moving with you can be totally voluntary, without any pressure so that you get in sync together.
Practically this means that I would just do the next training sessions without any gear, and without any pushing bodylanguage. Just run and walk around yourself (maybe with a ball to amuse yourself with?) and move or dance as much as you like. Try to see if your horse wants to come along, but if he doesn't, don't make him or ask him to! If he ignores you and then turns to face you, stop playing, walk towards him, reward him with food, or attention and scratching a favorite spot - and then leave again playing with yourself. If your horse walks towards you, you stop and go towards him, praise him for showing the initiative to join you in your play - and then go and play again.
When your horse really starts to get an interest in your play, starts trotting or cantering with you to keep up, then you know that he's getting interested in you
, not what you can do to him. And then you can start asking him a small excercise when he's with you, like moving his hindquarters a step aside. If he does, you reward him and go and run around yourself again untill he starts joining you again.If he doesn't, then you can repeat your fase 2 aid (touching the skin with your finger instead of just the hairs) a couple, say, three times, and then you're off again untill he gets near you again and you ask the exercise or another again.
What you teach him with this playing by yourself is that you as a person are really exiting and fun and inspiring to be with. When he starts to give attention to that, you reward him with you (fun, exiting and inspiring
) attention, and then you leave again. That makes you interesting! Most horses get bored to death by the cartloads of unwanted human attention they get buried under during a training session. Now your horse has not only learned that your attention is fun, but also that it's rare - so he will learn that he needs to become more interesting too in order to catch your attention. And he can do that by performing a little task you ask from him - be it standing with his head low, flexing at the poll, shoulder in or piaffe...
The you inspiring your horse-fase can take one or more training sessions, depending on how much your horse liked your training sessions before. If he really depended on corrections as motivator to play with you, then he probably will need some time to be reassured that moving around and playing with you can be voluntary and fun. Same goes for horses of other disciplines!
When you've established this (really not so mysterious at all
) relationship in which your horse actually wants to learn from you, you need to be very carefull with that. Because you'll need to alter your own views on training too, because when you decide that you'll do exercises the next half hour, your horse will get bored, feel pressurized with all the (even pressure-less!) demands and stop playing along again. Because the deal was; if you as human get interesting enough, your horse will start to play with you. So then don't get boring again!
This can take a while to understand in practice when training, both for you and your horse, so it's the question if this is what you want right now, as your Parelli games won't be that sharp anymore the coming weeks because your horse has lost his (negative, but still) motivator and he needs to purely like training again. So if you plan to do your L3 exam soon, you might want to reconsider starting with this. Because these two things, your horse loving to work with you freely, and upping fases when asking for things, don't go together. It will become really confusing for both of you, because in Parelli your horse won't respond that sharp anymore, and when trying to play together your horse won't want to play voluntary with you anymore and will need upped fases to get motivated enough to run with you again...
So that's the decision you have to make. Maybe you decide to quite Parelli - well, keep the games and information but now try to train them in a more voluntary way. And maybe you decide to do your level 3 first, and then start with this!