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Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Parelli Zones of a Horse


Do you know what the Zones of a horse are?  They're different sections of a horse that will influence his movement either forward, backward, left, right, up, or down.

Zone 1 is the horse's nose, and everything in front of it for a mile.  Pat always says "nose, neck, maybe the feet".  The nose is usually the first part of the horse to touch an object or go under, over, or between something.  The first part of the Touch It pattern is helping the horse become confident putting his nose on something.  We direct the horse on our Circle Game by sending his nose (Zone 1).  We encourage horse horses to follow Zone 1 when we're riding.  Zone 1 is the first part of the horse that we use for direction and building confidence.

Zone 2 is from right behind his ears all the way down to the break of the withers, where your neck string would sit, is Zone 2.  Any pressure here will cause the horse to turn or back up.  Often times more dominant, confident (Left Brain) horses have trouble yielding Zone 2.

Zone 3 starts at the break of the withers and encompasses the horse's front legs, shoulders, back and ribs, ending at the point of the hip.  Everything from your neck string all the way back to his flanks and hips is Zone 3.  Pressure in Zone 3 will cause the horse to go forward or sideways.  Building confidence in Zone 3 is important because this is the Zone you will be in when you're riding.  That is why we encourage playing a lot of driving games On Line in Zone 3 - it helps prepare the horse for a leader (you!) in that space of his body.

Zone 4 starts at the point of the hip and encompasses the hind legs, hips, and rump ending at the tail.  Pressure in Zone 4 usually sends the horse forward or yields the hindquarters.  Horses that lack confidence or are fearful of the human have a more difficult time yielding their hindquarters (Zone 4) because it causes them to cross their hind legs (a very compromised position for a prey animal that relies on flight for survival) and face the human with both eyes.  Having good control of Zone 4 is paramount for safety both on the ground and in the saddle.

Zone 5 is everything from the tail and behind it, for up to a mile in distance.  Pressure in Zone 5 sends the horse forward.  A presence in Zone 5 can generate curiosity and cause the horse to turn and investigate if they do not feel threatened.  Building confidence in Zone 5 is also important for safety both on the ground and while riding, and often helps horses that have bucking issues.  Remember when you're in Zone 5 to be aware of the Kick Zone and always stay safe!  Your Carrot Stick is 4 feet long and is a good indicator of a safe distance to stand when in Zone 5. 

Delicate Zone is everything between the nose band of the halter, the eye area, up over the ears, ending where the halter sits right behind the ears.  This is a sensitive and delicate area and should be treated with care, you should not use your Carrot Stick in this area.


Helping your horse develop confidence in each Zone not only improves overall safety and control, it will help bring your communication to new heights and cause your horse to have more comfort and enjoyment during his outings with you.

Did you know you can play the Seven Games in ALL 5 Zones?  It's a great way to build your creativity and your horse's puzzle solving skills in each Zone!

Need ideas or support for how you can play with your horse in different Zones?  Sign up for a 90-Day Free Preview of the Savvy Club on Parelli Connect!  Click Get Started and enter Referral Code P9610 to get access to thousands of horse training videos and articles, access to Pat and Linda, support, ideas, interactive task lists, and all the back issues of the Parelli Savvy Times and Savvy Club DVDs!

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