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Parelli Center Observations, Part One

Published: 11/4/2009
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NickerNews reader, Robin Kroc, shares her experiences from a two-week Parelli “celebration” at the Parelli facility in Ocala, Florida.
Kroc traveled south and used a Florida horse for her time there. She and her friend, Mary, stayed at the farm where horse is boarded. Mary trailered her Maine horse, Elias, down to Ocala for the clinic.

Read on!
Or read second installment by clicking here.


Day One:

Greetings from a happy horsewoman!
The farm guinea hens and donkey woke me early, I dozed a little and got up at 8:00 ish. Mary and I went off to the grocery store to replace my confiscated toothpaste and pick up a few items.

When we returned I chatted with our host, Peggy, while I watched her work with two thoroughbred foals who board here: one is 5 months , the other 6 months.
I sat in the paddock with my horse, Little Jen, for undemanding time for a half hour while Mary gave Elias a bath.

We loaded the horses about 11am and went off to the Parelli Center which is 10 minutes, one race track, and 15 magnificent farms down the road!
We loaded the horses about 11am and went off to the Parelli Center which is 10 minutes, one race track, and 15 magnificent farms down the road!
Beautiful!
People playing with horses everywhere...on line, at liberty, freestyle and finese! Lots of room to play. The pens are very nice. In groups of four and five and sixes, with shade for the horses.
Met in the classroom at 1 pm for orientation with John Barr and Pete, then outside where John did a catching, haltering demo and chatted for a while about observing our horses behavior. Sent us out to be our horses shadow and try to balance leadership and partnership at 51% and 49%.
We were to let our horse to catch us, halter with level 4 savvy and then play with our horse wherever our horse was comfortable….which might mean hanging out in the pen with the horse (on one end of the continuum) to exploring the entire
facility (on the other end of the continuum).

I LOVE Little Jen. She is very sweet and very light! I spent a lot of time in zone 3 simulating riding. Had to work on my draw a little and did some zone 4 back up as she had lost a little confidence trailer loading last week and is a little nervous backing off the step up trailer. She did very well with my simulations.

Day Two:

Wow! An interesting day! Arrived at 7:15 to feed, then to eat breakfast!
Took Little Jen for another me and my shadow stroll on the 12 ' line in the open, more hilly playground: briefly checked out her seven game skills...then put her in her pen for her morning hay while we met in the classroom for our morning session.

Pat Parelli showed up and spoke to us for an hour! Very charismatic and chock full of information. He spoke about horses having TSTL: Talent, Skills, Try and Luck. We can influence the last three categories the most: Skills, Try and some of their Luck (once they find us) but we can also influence talent if we encourage their innate talent and don't try to make a horse into a race horse who is an introvert with little motivation to move quickly!
He also spoke about his vision for natural horsemanship. He is bubbling with ideas and inspiration for the younger generation but he loves to help the recreational rider like me too! He also spoke about his vision for natural horsemanship. He is bubbling with ideas and inspiration for the younger generation but he loves to help the recreational rider like me too!
He gave us many examples of people trying to put icing (specialization) on an unbaked cake (the foundation). Pat is sending his last tractor for sale this week...only horse drawn vehicles and electric golf carts.

We met in the playground next to watch John Barr demonstrate what to do before riding your horse: the pre-flight check!
It is so much more than I understood up til now...and so much more important. I have a whole different perspective in how to prepare for riding to make the most of each ride and to set things up to make it a good experience for the horse so that s/he wants to offer you more.
He demonstrated how proper saddling technique can make for a better partnership between you and your horse. Later we practiced swinging a western saddle onto the horse simulators. Whew, they are heavy but if you hold it properly and get a good swing going up it works. I definitely need more practice.

Off to take my horses to water...you can develop a stronger bond with your horse by bringing your horse to water rather than leaving water in their pen.
I was starving by the time we had lunch at 1pm. After lunch we prepared for our afternoon session by taking our saddles, pads, hackamores and 22 ' lines out to a quiet spot in the playground. We met in the classroom at 2:00 to learn about building confidence by using visualization techniques using 'approach/retreat' as well as visualize things that could go badly and what we would do to problem solve.
We are encouraged 'to take the time it takes' to build our confidence.

After a good pre-ride check...I mounted and rode Jen at a walk. Tomorrow we will see how my confidence grows. I will work on some visualization tonight!

Robin

Day Three:

Another lovely day weather wise: in the morning it's cool enough for a light jacket but by the afternoon we need short sleeves and sunscreen. The main playground is lovely and shaded by many Live Oaks with Spanish Moss.

All the sayings are more and more meaningful: "take the time it takes", "prior and proper preparation", " ride for tomorrow", "if it's not light it's probably not right", "warm up strong to ride soft", "allow our idea to be their idea".

We had a focus group ride in the grass arena with sand paths (on the Freestyle Patterns video). Did "follow the rail" with indirect, direct rein 360 degree turns in rhythm. Really soft and nice.
I started to "feel" my horse for the first time in a long while. I was soft and focused. It is so great to be here and be able to "be present" and not have any distractions.
I started to "feel" my horse for the first time in a long while. I was soft and focused. It is so great to be here and be able to "be present" and not have any distractions.

The large patio in front of the Lodge (where we eat) has several Live Oaks for shade and 5 or 6 picnic tables. It reminded me of a student union at a college campus. You can look out one side of the Lodge and see students playing with their horses in one of the round pens ( there are three: a 50', 75' and 100').
Everywhere you look you see students coming a going: driving the draft team delivering hay, giving visitor tours on a golf cart, playing with horses on line, at liberty, being ridden freestyle and with finese.
Everyone is on their own journey. Students smile and look you in the eye. When you made a positive comment, you get one back. The intern and extern students are always asking you how are you doing. They will willingly stop to talk if you ask a question or stop to chat.

I had a wonderful day with my horse. She is becoming more and more bonded with me. It is amazing how I can easily move her through gates and ask her to walk here next to me, or behind me, or on my, left or on my right with a few little subtle cues. She pays attention to me and moves where I ask her. Her sideways and backing are much more precise than they were yesterday.

I can feel myself getting softer. My rope and carrot stick skills have already improved. My horse does step on the 22' rope a lot but we just say "oh boy" and work on her backing as I ask her to take her foot off the rope, or step out of the loop around one of her feet.

Goodnight! Time for a rest!
Robin

View Reader Comments:

add your comment
11/19/2009 Name not provided
I have personally seen Pat Parelli and I'm not interested in having information about him. In fact, I saw plenty Pat at the Tom Dorrance Benefit in Fort Worth, TX. Ray Hunt had to reprimand him twice and Carolyn Hunt also reprimanded him. Do the words, "that's enough Pat, put that colt up" coming from the great Ray Hunt's mouth cause any of you Parelli-ites to wonder about whether Parelli is in it for the money or in it for the horse. I've seen enough for myself. I don't think that Parelli is in it for the horse. I just hope that those of you that are so enamored with Parelli and his games see enough of those great horseman that are in it for the horse to see the truth.
12/2/2009 Rick
The Parelli system is based on increasing phases of force. To the horse this boils down to "do it, or else". This is a system of domination, forcing the horse to submit. Some horses submit easliy, others rebel. There are ways to get willing cooperation from your horse without force. Just read anything by Leslie Desmond to discover what a real partnership looks like.
5/10/2010 Campbell
The more I have observed Pat Parelli and his team, the more impressed I am.

   
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