Thursday, September 24, 2009

Actually, you don't ride in Parelli

Honestly. We just don't ride (sarcasm intended).

*sigh* yet another ignorant post coming from Cathy over at FHOTD:
Well I guess they are safer if you never actually get on them!

This is a common misconception among some, that those who practice PNH don’t ride…which is absolutely ridiculous. Have any of these individuals ever been to a savvy conference?? Seen Pat ride Casper bridleless among mares? I have to say that my methods are primarily based upon the PNH system…and *gasp* I ride. Every. Day. I know, shocking, right?

Cathy’s ridiculous ignorance-filled comments in purple.

“Linda was jumping with no helmet”
So? Cathy, are you hoping to impose your riding beliefs on everyone else? Shouldn’t this (helmet use) be a personal choice? You yourself posted, in this very post “I do believe in freedom of choice for adult riders who are aware of the risks”. So what’s your problem?

Re: the Parelli’s response (as per Cathy’s blog):
Pat and Linda are not telling people not to wear a helmet, they are simply explaining their reasons for not doing so. They point out that you can still be injured despite wearing a helmet, and that their program is designed to address the root issues that often are cause for injury to the rider – an unsafe horse - rather than to bubble-wrap someone prior to throwing them on an unsafe horse. If you create a balanced partner, you significantly decrease the risk to yourself – moreso than a simple helmet (or vest, etc) would. Plain and simple.

“Seriously, you’re not this stupid, right? You can’t be. First of all, you seem to be arguing that ALL horse accidents are caused by bad behavior on the part of the horse.”
Cathy, are you actually reading any of what the Parelli’s say? Or is their message just washing over you because you’re so caught up in seeing through your own rose-coloured glasses?

Here is what the Parelli’s said that sparked Cathy’s comment above:
“Our program is intended to address the safety problem at its root – which is behavioral – rather than address the symptoms of it. Our message is about developing the relationship with the horse, and the savvy level of the rider, so that unsafe behavior is addressed long before the rider gets on the horse – rather than allowing the unsafe situations to continue to occur and hope that the helmet, body protector, etc, will protect us from the consequences.”

In language Cathy and her sheep can comprehend: the Parelli’s are NOT saying that ALL horse accidents occur due to bad behaviour on the part of the horse, but that their program is designed to prevent the accidents that are the result of inadequate savvy on the part of the rider and/or behavior issues (spooking, bucking, rearing, bolting, exploding, etc) on the part of the horse…which, we have to admit, are most accidents. Do people get hurt simply sitting on a horse? Sure! Do they get hurt in freak accidents? Yup. Can we eliminate a lot of accidents by educating our riders and developing our horses? Yes!

“Secondly, you seem to be arguing that there is some way to 100% cure bad behavior in a horse so that the horse will never misbehave again and therefore no accident will ever occur…It’s a living creature! It is going to have bad days! There is something out there that will scare it and you can NOT do ANY kind of training/desensitization that will 100% prevent that from happening.”
Comments such as this really broadcast your ignorance of the Parelli method, Cathy. Let’s deal with this point-by-point:
1. “There is some way to 100% cure bad behaviour in a horse so that it will never misbehave again and therefore no accident will ever occur”
First off, just to get it out of the way, there is always the potential for an accident, so no one can ever say that no accident will ever occur. I don’t think that is what the Parelli’s are saying either (I say that based on the email provided as well as what I have heard them say over the past 6 years I have stayed tuned into them).
Is there a way to 100% cure bad behaviour? Well, is there a way to have a harmonious partnership with your spouse? Your friends?
2. “it is going to have bad days!”
Yes, horses have bad days, just as people do! Fighting in a marriage is normal – but it is about how you fight, not that you fight. The same can be said for your partnership with your horse. Want to know if they’re having a bad day? Work with them – even just 5 minutes on your way in from the paddock – on the ground prior to a ride. You find out what side of the paddock your horse woke up on and work out any kinks – you re-focus them on you, re-cement your partnership with them (re-establish respect and trust), get them thinking rather than reacting, and work them into a better mood. Sometimes it takes me an hour to get a horse “balanced” through groundwork (rare), sometimes it takes me 2 minutes (particularly if I have been working with them for awhile). Sometimes I don’t ride a particular horse that day (rare)! It depends on where that horse is at in its development, it’s base horsenality, etc. If you sufficiently develop the horse and develop a partnership with them, bad behaviour IS eliminated. That’s what a part-ner-ship is all about. It involves efficient and flowing communication between both horse and rider so that any disagreements are worked out before they manifest as escalated “bad behaviour”.
3. "There is something out there that will scare it and you can NOT do ANY kind of training/desensitization that will 100% prevent that from happening.”
In addition, what people often deem “bad behaviour” (such as spooking) can also be the result of a horse’s lack of trust in their rider’s leadership – as you develop a partnership, one of the foundation blocks you construct is that of trust. Horses who are fully trusting in your leadership are not spooking (unless you are), because they’re trusting that where you ask them to place their feet is safe! My horses might ask me about certain scenarios, but if I say it’s ok, they accept that it is ok and continue on – yes, without spooking. The most “spook” I get from a higher level horse is a surprised body shiver. Also, as you teach a horse to think, they react less. PNH isn’t about training or desensitizing a horse to not spook, it is about developing the type of partnership between horse and rider to the point where the horse is following the rider’s direction and therefore not spooking because their rider is offering them solid direction and leadership.

“Or what if the horse has pain you haven’t discovered yet? Back soreness turns many a safe older packer into a bronc, sometimes with very little warning.”
Really?? Are you kidding??! Bucking without (or very little) warning due to back soreness? What have you been doing to your horses, Cathy? Horses don’t just explode for no reason due to back pain. They go through phases – unless maybe you typically ignore all their “quieter” prior warning signs, then yes, a horse might escalate his communication to bucking without “apparent” warning (only “not apparent” because you ignored it). The warning signs were there, you just didn’t see them.

“Ok, you heard it from the Parelli people. If you are not supposed to ride until your horse is “safe,” you are going to have a long wait because there is no way in the world to accomplish that! HORSES ARE NOT SAFE. They’re a thousand pound animal with a mind of their own.”
How would you know whether or not you will have a long wait, Cathy? Have you tried it? In my twenties, I already have a terrible back I am re-habbing, so now, more than ever, I am careful what horses I ride and when. I now am thankfully privy to a method at my fingertips that allows me to work with horses and develop a solid foundation from the ground up, before ever getting up into that saddle. I can work out all those kinks on the ground without jeopardizing my safety in the saddle. Why wouldn’t I do it? As a horse trainer, sometimes I admittedly do have to push the envelope a little and get on a horse before I feel they are completely safe, but thus far the preparation PNH has allowed me to do with horses has ensured that I can be safer than ever. Some examples of the “long wait” it took to get on a horse’s back?
Horse #1: Dutch Warmblood cross mare, previously abused – session #2
Horses #2/3/4: QH mares, unstarted – approximately one week
Horse #5: Percheron x TB mare, highly reactive and unstarted – approx. two weeks
Horse #6: QH gelding, unstarted and very untrusting of people – approx. two weeks

Of our own horses:
Experiences range from PNH enabling me to ride some of our horses in the first place, to continuing to ride them while doing the Parelli groundwork (and thus building a stronger foundation) simultaneously. Parelli Natural Horsemanship actually – surprise surprise – has a huge riding component. The new Patterns are about 50/50 groundwork and riding and can be worked on simultaneously.

Take the time it takes so it takes less time – Parelli.

Groundwork can create a strong foundation and if it means staying off a horse’s back for a little bit to ensure that that horse is later safe enough to ride, that is what I am going to do! Safety first!

If horses are not safe, Cathy, we should perhaps be re-thinking riding them at all! Why can’t they be safe? As far as them having a mind of their own – yes! They do! Which is why you learn to work with that mind and to develop a partnership where a) they want to work with you and b) where communication is harmonious between horse and rider.

Cathy, do you honestly think that your methods, and that riding a horse is the ONLY way of working a horse through problems and fears? Personally, I find that most, if not all, problems between horse and rider are solvable on the ground first. Honestly. Then you take what you have on the ground, up into the saddle, for success and safety in the saddle! Knowing that there is another way, I sure as heck don’t want to work a horse through “problems and fears” in the saddle if I don’t have to and if my safety might be compromised! This is a 1,000lb animal – I’d rather NOT be on its back if it might explode in fear!!! Let’s work it out on the ground first, then progress to working under-saddle.

“…trying to argue that a rider ISN’T safer with a helmet…”
The Parelli’s are not arguing that a rider is not safer with a helmet, but that they might not necessarily be safer with a helmet (depending on the situation) and that there is a root issue to address that can do more for a rider than a helmet alone.

“…or that somehow good horse training can eliminate the need for any helmet…”
No, but it can reduce the risks to the point where some choose not to use a helmet.

“…completely IGNORING the part that rider skill/balance and just plain luck play in how accidents happen.”
“Our message is about developing the relationship with the horse, and the savvy level of the rider”. (Taken from the letter Cathy posted, from the Parelli’s.) Cathy, do you actually read what you post and write? The Parelli’s DO address rider skill and balance, and if you had any knowledge of their program, you would realize that they are ALL about the rider’s skill and balance. This isn’t a horse-training program so much as a people-training program. It is about developing both horse and rider, through proper horsemanship skills.

This isn’t about the Parelli’s advertising that people should not wear helmets. I will try to dig up an old email they sent out in their Savvy Newsletter that accurately portrays this. The Parelli’s do advocate for helmet use, but they also advocate for free will – it is up to you to weigh out the risks and decide whether or not to wear a helmet. PNH is a method that has been around for eons but that has been marketed by the Parelli’s and developed so the average person can develop a strong partnership with their horse and limit the risks we take with our horses.

Sometimes what people say just boggles my mind. If you don’t like a particular method, fine. But take the time to realize that you might not know all about that method, that you just might not fully understand it and how it works. Cathy, your ignorance of PNH is just as appalling as your closed mind – why would you comment on a method you obviously know so little about??! Furthermore, if you have all these qualms and questions, ask them of the professionals within the method itself!!! Simple? Makes sense to me – that way you find out the real answers rather than surmising what they could be saying based on your own faulty interpretation.

I recently emailed the Savvy Team concerning helmets and will post their response shortly.

Lastly, the following comment from FHOTD (in response to other comments posted there), by "Bianca", I found hit it spot on:

Okay, I have got to speak up because this is just ridiculous for intelligent people like you all to be judging a program you obviously are not informed about. We’re grown-ups right? Let’s be reasonable and rational. Please hear me through. I have to first say that I believe in safety first and I wear a helmet most of the time.

First things first, Caton Parelli (Pat Parelli’s son) did NOT get “kicked in the head” by a horse!! He was born with hydrocephaly and had a stroke very young. Please check your information before you go using it as evidence against something. If you want to check on this yourself, see Pat’s autobiography “Raise Your Hand if You Love Horses” for the full story about Caton (and you can always get it from the library). And for the record, Caton Parelli is now showing in cutting, riding bridleless and bareback and doing extremely well. All this when doctors said he would never walk or talk. Now if that isn’t determination on the part of a father and son, I don’t know what is. Pat Parelli is an amazing father and has helped Caton go above and beyond all odds.

Okay, I feel that you may have mistook the point of the email. If you go back and read the email from the Parelli’s you will see that when they refer to “behavior” they are referring to both the behavior of the horse and person, with the emphasis on the person. In your argument against the first paragraph you state several situations in which it was the mistake of the person where they got into an accident (i.e., not tightening the girth, dismounting incorrectly). The email states “developing the relationship with the horse, and the savvy level of the rider”. The Parelli’s entire first level focuses on safety and teaching the person savvy (savvy = know-how) in understanding and handling their horse and what to do in “uh oh!” moments. They teach “flight checks” so we know whether the horse is safe to get on and they teach how to be constantly cognizant of the horse’s state of mind the entire time we are with them (whether riding or playing on the ground). We practice, practice, and practice getting off in an emergency!

The comment you made that the Parelli’s completely ignore balance is said out of misunderstanding of the program. If I may, I would like to take this opportunity to educate you a little. Linda Parelli has come up with amazing and wonderful concepts of fluidity with horses: striving to physically become “one with the horse”. She goes through the biomechanics of the horse and the rider and what happens in the horse’s body when you are sitting a certain way. This is taught through simulations, explanations, and experiments. When I first started riding years ago I had a natural, balanced seat. Then, to my demise, I took jumping lessons (now I’m not bashing jumping, just the way I was taught) from an instructor that taught me to sit on my croch and bow in my lower back. This brought on a lot of back pain and I felt VERY insecure; like a top just barely balancing on the saddle (which is what happens with you sit even the tiniest bit forwards). Because of the pain this brought on, I thought I couldn’t ride anymore because that was the “proper” way to sit. Now that I’ve learned from Linda Parelli’s concepts and practiced them with simulations before getting on a horse and practiced them on the horse, my natural seat is back and I have security and balance again! And best of all, I do not have any pain when riding!! I can ride bareback and sit a trot easily because I am in tune with the horse’s movement.

Now I’m not saying you shouldn’t wear a helmet and neither did the Parelli’s. They have no qualms about people wearing helmets and they tell their students that it is up to them whether they want to wear a helmet or not. What Parelli is saying is that no one should use a helmet or any other safety device as an excuse for poor savvy and a poor relationship with a horse. Wouldn’t you agree?

Accidents happen. I know, I’ve been there. But I have not had a major accident since starting the Parelli program 5 years ago. And when I had a minor incident it was because I made a misjudgement and I take full responsibility for that. I then say “whoops” and go back and learn more, analyze the situation, and think how I can better prepare for a situation next time. And believe me, I have avoided many situations in which I could have been seriously hurt because I read the horse and adjusted the situation.

And as for the comment about having extraordinary numbers of accidents in the Parelli world, that is also said out of lack of information. I have a wealth of Parelli friends and I RARELY, if ever, hear of even a minor accident. And if I do hear of an accident it is because of some freak incidence where no one was at fault and usually the person was wearing a helmet anyhow.

If you don’t “like” the Parelli’s that is fine, but do not judge their principals and techniques if you don’t even know what they are. As for the comment on the incidence of someone “beating their horse over the head” I’m sure that was not a true Parelli person and I would have had to see the incidence first-hand. A stick, bit, rope, halter, or anything else (even a bucket!) can be used for ill in the wrong hands. Putting an orange stick in someone’s hands doesn’t make them a Parelli person and doesn’t make them beat their horse with it. Sadly, I have met people who “say” they “do Parelli” but in fact they do not. Lesson there: take everything with a grain of salt.

And as another educational opportunity, the carrot stick is not something magical, it is an extension of one’s arm…that’s all it is. If you’d like more information on how it is used, I’m more than happy to explain that further. Please, if you don’t know what something is used for, please don’t make fun of it. If I didn’t know what eye glasses or a bluetooth headset or an arm prosthesis were used for, would it be intelligent or polite to make fun of someone who used it?

In closing, if you don’t like the Parelli program, that is fine. We’re not shooving the program down your throats. It’s a resource here if you ever want it. Those of us who are in the program are very happily living our dreams safely and progressively. If you are too, that’s great! More power to ya! You do your thing and we’ll do ours, how about a truce?

Blessings and savvy on!



EveryoneThinksThey'reGoodDrivers said...

Hi Bianca,

I want to comment on a couple things here, not trying to start an internet fight. But here goes…

“Sometimes it takes me an hour to get a horse “balanced” through groundwork (rare), sometimes it takes me 2 minutes (particularly if I have been working with them for awhile). Sometimes I don’t ride a particular horse that day (rare)! It depends on where that horse is at in its development, it’s base horsenality, etc.”

To me this sounds like allowing the horse to dictate the ride and the day. I’m not suggesting you do this, but beginners read and perceive things in all kinds of interesting ways and this is a common misconception…”my horse is having a bad day, I won’t ride today.” Many of these people don’t even know what a bad day for a horse looks like. As you stated, the times to not ride are so few and far between…it shouldn’t be mentioned! IMO This is how horses go months and years w/o being ridden…not good for the rider or the horse.

“If you sufficiently develop the horse and develop a partnership with them, bad behaviour IS eliminated.”

No, if you consistently work with a horse often, using whatever training method you choose, you will have a better horse AND the right horse will choose to work with you (partner). Some methods are conducive to developing a happy partner and others make it practically impossible.

“PNH isn’t about training or desensitizing a horse to not spook, it is about developing the type of partnership between horse and rider to the point where the horse is following the rider’s direction and not spooking.”

This is conditioned response. I agree that desensitizing is bullshit. Besides that, I don’t want a horse that isn’t sensitive (that would be weird). It has all to do with the brain and training the thoughts in a direction. Do it enough and you will change the horse. If anyone is reading this and thinking they have an insensitive horse because they have to use a lot of leg or hand, he’s numb in the brain, not in the spot, btw.

“Re: The warning signs were there, you just didn’t see them.” This is a good theory, I agree with it. But it is only theory…no person can possibly meet all the horses in the world to know if this is true. A horse that gives no warning is considered a dishonest horse. I think it is very possible there are horses out there like this. Willfully dishonest? Of course not, they don’t have the capacity to plan that way. ACCIDENTALLY, dishonest. Remember, horses live in the moment. Furthermore, you have back problems, ever thrown your back out? Had a pinched nerve? These things are pretty sudden and I makes sense they could happen to horses.

“Personally, I find that most, if not all, problems between horse and rider are solvable on the ground first.” You haven’t worked enough horses. No offense but many times good quality riding is required. Don’t disagree with that yet, wait a few years, work a ton more horses and then tell me.

I really don’t agree with FHOTD very much so I am not on her bandwagon either.

I dislike Parelli because I believe his marketing campaigns and teachings are dishonest. I am appalled to see photos of children jumping ponies in a pasture, bareback, bridless and helmetless. I wish I would have pulled the advertisement. What an awful thing to profess to teach people!

Riding bridless is dangerous and I don’t care who you are. If a person wants to master it, fine. But to profess that others can accomplish this is ludicrous and more likely to get someone killed.

Groundwork, groundwork, groundwork. Believe it or not, a person is safer in the saddle than they are on the ground. If you don’t believe me, check with the American Medical Equestrian Association. More people get hurt while handling horses than they do falling from horses. In fact, horsemanship safety associations (for instructors) recommend keeping riders mounted during most emergencies.


EveryoneThinksThey'reGoodDrivers said...

Anything anyone teaches is going to be misinterpreted by someone somewhere. For this reason, I feel it is the duty of the teacher and especially the big name trainer to be careful with what they teach. Teaching something only less than .00001 percent of the audience is actually savvy enough to do (ride bareback and bridless) is MISLEADING and SENSATIONAL. It’s a party trick. Parelli has been putting out more party tricks than anyone else I’ve seen and he’s been doing it from the beginning. He’s a rich man because of it and there are a whole ton of mislead people.

If a person wants to follow a BNT, John Lyons is my pick. He won’t lie to you.

OldMorgans said...

I "do" Parelli & I did not like the answer from the Parelli Org. that was in Cathy's post. It was poorly written and very open to much misunderstanding, which is what happened.
However, I do not get the "I HATE Parelli" attitude that is so very common everywhere. The haters have not really looked at the program; it seems that they have seen some people doing it poorly & base their comments on that. It is very easy to hate Parelli but more work to see what is really going on. Of course, the Parelli outfit does make it easy to hate them by way too many ways. This was another one.

Equus said...


Actually my name is not Bianca, ETTGD…not sure where you got that from(?). Furthermore, from the sounds of your post, we will just have to agree to disagree on a number of things. Most of your statements are definitely based on a lack of understanding of PNH or of myself or my own methods; you are simply inadvertedly misinterpreting what I say.

“Sounds like allowing the horse to dictate the ride and the day”
I don’t allow the horses to “dictate” the ride and the day, but this is a partnership, so they do have a say of course. If I deem a horse too dangerous to ride one day, I won’t ride it (I don’t need to, I will make a lot of progress either way). If you consider that to be the horse “dictating”, so be it. Safety first: I don’t need to place my life or well-being in jeopardy. Obviously though, as you work with a horse, the days you can’t ride, or take a lot of prep-work on the ground, occur less and less – eventually the partnership is developed sufficiently that they never happen (my higher level horses I don’t have to play any groundwork with beforehand).

“beginners read and perceive things”
I concur. However I’d rather have a beginner not ride their horse for a year than ride a horse they deem to be dangerous or too challenging to handle, because perhaps they are right. I’d rather have to work with that horse myself later (which has happened on several occasions) and teach the owner at that time how to properly read or handle their horse. As well, hopefully I can properly prepare that horse a little better so that the owner doesn’t perceive the horse as dangerous in the first place. Sorry, but I am going to mention it here, and I did feel it worth mentioning, because it happens.

“No, if you consistently work with a horse often…”
I beg to differ. If you work with a horse often, yes you will have a better horse and a horse who wants to work with you – IF you use the right methods. I can assure you that the newest addition to our herd was worked with consistently, but he certainly is not a better horse because of it and definitely does not want to work with you – he’d rather have nothing to do with people if it were up to him. Same as our OTTB, when we first purchased him (much moreso than other OTTB’s): he was worked with on a daily basis for three years but certainly was not a better horse and did not want to work with me at first. Techniques matter. On the note of consistency, however, that is one of the things PNH stresses greatly.

“This is conditioned response”
Conditioned response
n. Psychology
A new or modified response elicited by a stimulus after conditioning.
Teaching a horse to follow leadership is not a “conditioned response”. They already do it naturally, seek it out even. PNH teaches the human to act more like a prey animal, a herd animal, a horse, and to develop leadership – to where the horse follows you. This isn’t about “conditioning” the horse to follow your leadership; they are already seeking out a leader – you act like one, they will follow you. Neither is it about teaching them to stop spooking; it’s about developing the type of partnership where the horse follows your leadership (just as he does in a herd situation with other horses). You spook = horse spooks, you don’t spook = horse doesn’t spook (to an extent). Also, if you balance out a horse’s emotions, you teach them to think rather than just blindly react. I don’t believe that desensitizing is complete bullshit (John Lyons teaches it a lot), but that you just can’t desensitize your horse to everything.

Equus said...

“…training the thoughts in a direction. Do it enough and you will change the horse.”
Yes, but some training methods are temporary – they might “change” the horse, but only temporarily. Other methods develop the horse, in a permanent fashion, rather than changing the horse, or “training” it. Developing the horse involves building up what is already there and creating a healthier horse emotionally and mentally.

“…he’s numb in the brain, not in the spot, btw”

“But it is only a theory.”
I think you are misunderstanding me. I was referring to a horse with back pain – I have yet to see a horse in pain buck with absolutely no warning (not saying it is impossible, just that it is very unlikely – “many a seasoned packer” shouldn’t be bucking without warning). There are usually warning signs leading up to the buck as the horse tries to let you know he’s hurting: trying to turn back towards home, unwillingness to be caught, fidgeting while saddling, won’t stand still to be mounted, not moving out smoothly, etc etc. Are there dishonest horses out there? Certainly! We own one. Some horses I feel can be mislabeled as dishonest though when they simply have introverted horsenalities, but that is another topic altogether. Horses do live in the moment, but I have to say I do think it is possible for them to carry out planning, as I have seen it. That’s another topic as well though, and is not concrete in my mind (I would like to see further proof).

“Ever have back problems…”
Yes, yes, and yes. Of course it happens to horses – my horses receive regular chiropractic work and it is always the first thing I suggest with a client’s “bad actor”. Those horses still usually give signs before they progress to bucking out of pain though, especially “old packers” (as Cathy puts it).

“You haven’t worked enough horses. No offense but many times good quality riding is required.”
I have been riding for a lot of years and have worked with a lot of horses. Of course good riding is required. It’s the reason I took two of our newest personal additions up north with me to work on a ranch, when I only needed the one cow horse. The two I took up are far from cow horses – one is my future jumper, an OTTB!! However I felt that “good quality riding” out on 1120 acres would greatly benefit both horses. I am of the personal opinion though, through my own experiences, that everything can be worked out on the ground first though – that the root issue of most everything (98 percent of things) can, and should, usually be worked out on the ground first. Taking it up into the saddle is another level up, something you do when the horse itself and the partnership between horse and human is developed sufficiently on the ground (usually).

Equus said...

“Riding bridleless is dangerous and I don’t care who you are. If a person wants to master it, fine. But to profess that others can accomplish this is ludicrous and more likely to get someone killed.”
How is it dangerous?? You have obviously never attained that level before, so, before you disagree with me, please try it out and then get back to me. If you’d tried it out you would realize how much control you really do have up there on a horse at that level. I don’t want to have to rely on a saddle for balance or seat or on reins to stop a horse. My seat should be independent and balanced enough to ride bareback, and I should be able to stop my horses without touching their head. It is not a “trick” to “master”; it’s about developing a high level of partnership with a horse. Others CAN accomplish this – look around you and you will soon find a number of riders who are successfully riding their horses at liberty, with complete control. Besides, if you’re safer up on the horse anyways, then riding, even at liberty, shouldn’t present the danger you are saying it does. I am assuming you are concerned about the lack of control, yet lack of control happens with bridles and with saddles too. Riding a horse at liberty isn’t about grabbing your horse from pasture and jumping up on him, without prior and proper preparation, it’s about nurturing a strong partnership and developing a horse properly. Are people going to see others riding a horse at liberty and try to replicate it themselves without proper preparation? Of course. However I have to point out that that happens everywhere. I’m not going to stop riding my horses at liberty just because someone else might see it and misinterpret it, and I don’t think other trainers should stop riding at liberty in case someone uses it the wrong way. I just accept that some people make bad choices, regardless of the activity/industry/etc; others can learn or be inspired by demo’s (etc).

Equus said...

(cont. - sorry this is so long!!)
“More people get hurt while handling horses than they do falling from horses.”
Maybe. However you also have to consider how many hours people typically spend on the ground with their horses, over time, versus how many hours they spend in the saddle. If they’re spending more time (overall) on the ground (grooming, trailering, bathing, clipping, tacking, etc), it only stands to reason that there might be more injuries. I don’t think that is a sufficient reason to do less groundwork though. Groundwork, done properly, sets the horse and rider up for successful under-saddle work. PNH, specifically, teaches its students how to handle their horses safely on the ground and how to develop their horses sufficiently to make them safe both on the ground and in the saddle. Don’t get me wrong, there have been times I definitely felt safer on a horse than off, and even mounted up in emergencies so as to remain safe. However the majority of the time I feel a lot of issues are better sorted out on the ground than in the saddle. One of the horses I just finished working with? There was no way in heck I was getting on that bucking back, because I didn’t need to. Maybe it was potentially more dangerous to work with said horse on the ground, but I would rather sort the issue out on the ground, keeping the horse out of my space where he could hurt me, than put myself in a situation where I knew with 100 percent certainty that I would be hurt (on a side note, was quality riding important? Definitely, and I recommended to his owners to ride him consistently to keep him where he’s at, and they have). There are a ton of other instances as well where I have chosen to dismount, and I would do it again – I don’t need further trauma to my body via a horse throwing me, rearing up and smacking my head, bucking and kicking me on my way down, coming over on top of me, etc. When push comes to shove, this is a 1,000lb animal and the majority of the time I feel more comfortable ensuring my safety through savvy handling on the ground than on a back I know wants me off. Personal choice? Yes. Wrong? I don’t believe so. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion though, so if you’d rather skip the groundwork and work everything out under-saddle, be my guest.

Equus said...

(cont. - last one, promise, hehe)
“Anything anyone teaches is going to be misinterpreted by someone somewhere”
I agree, and there is only so much someone can do. I don’t think “misinterpretation” is a good enough reason for trainers to stop demonstrating certain possibilities. As you said, “anything” that they teach could be misinterpreted. It could also be correctly interpreted and allow others great success, which PNH has. On another note, I don’t believe that only .00001 percent of the population is capable of attaining the level of bareback and bridleless, particularly if they take lessons, attend clinics, and/or study at the Savvy Centers Pat and Linda have set up (or working through another system). I work with each horse I do with the ultimate goal of having the type of partnership where I can ride that horse bareback and bridleless, even if I know it won’t be possible time-wise with that horse (such as with 30-60 day client horses). Pat and Linda aren’t saying, by riding bareback and bridleless, that that is what everyone should return home and try – they explicitly remind people it takes a lot of preparation and time to attain that level (Level 4+) with a horse – but they show what is possible. Jonathan Field, John Lyons, the O’Connors, Westfall (among hundreds of others) – all give bareback and bridleless demos as well, to show what is possible with a horse if you work hard. If you dislike the Parelli’s for their demo’s, you should probably consider disliking John Lyons and especially the O’Connors, the latter for jumping bridleless! Nevermind those bridleless cutting competitions…

Happy riding!

Equus said...

Old Morgans,
I can understand your position and have to tend to agree with it. While I understand what the Parelli's meant (mostly) - because I know their methods and thus the thinking behind the letter, it was pretty indirect and open to misinterpretation.

Agreed on the rest as well - very well put and thanks :)

Karen Hagen said...

If you want to know about Caton Parelli and how he got to where he is...ask his Mom, Me!
Karen, and if you want to really know about Natural Horsemanship, ask Pats First wife, Me!

Anonymous said...

This is old but. I have to say you talk about the prople who used to follow Cathy as mindless sheep. That is all I have ever seen with Parelli followers.

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