I think Parelli has it's place. Years ago I got the book "Natural Horse-man-ship" ($40 or so - not breaking the bank) or whatever it was called that Parelli had written. To me, it did explain things in a different way. I was a kid and new to horses so explaining how yielding, circling etc was important to appeal to me, and taught me a bit, a new perspective. I don't know if Clinton was around back then, but there wasn't much internet, so you could only read what you could buy in your local saddlery. So Parelli and Roberts for NH, then other traditional riders for dressage/showjumping etc. I remember they had Monty Robert's books in the library and I read them all, learning about herd dynamics, signals - stuff that had never been taught to me in riding lessons. From each of those I took some things on boards, forgot the rest and moved on.
That's the way I view these horse training philosophies, I read them, understand them, maybe try out some of what they propose. If it works for me in practice then I take it on board. I'll spend $30 - $50 on a book, which I think is reasonable, and that's that. I've never blindly thrown myself into a trainer spending thousands of dollars into the training. I've never closed my mind and just followed one, even as a 12 year old kid I knew that wasn't the way. That the way to becoming good at anything is learning from a variety of sources.
You decided to go out and spend thousands of dollars on following this man. The people who follow him are people who just want the answers to everything neatly packaged up, rather than working it out for themselves. Thinking critically, analysing what people say and do, it's harder. It's easier if you just follow one person, one philosophy, all the work is done for you.
Now, eight years on you've worked that out. There is no point being angry. Parelli did not make you do this, he merely offered a service that you decided to purchase and use for eight years. What you learned would never be redeemable for a material sum, they were experiences that you must have valued to continue it for eight years. Now that you are dissatisfied with Parelli doesn't mean that your experiences have less value.
As to his personality, the personality of his staff, it's hard to know. He's marketed a persona, and likely that's all it is. So what. Celebrities do it all the time. Whether he is or isn't a nice person doesn't matter. Whether they "rule by fear" or not doesn't matter. They're a private organisation that sells courses. They can do what they like. They sell a product, nothing more. They're not going to always get along with you, they're not going to always do what people want. Yet for eight years you followed them loyally, so they can't be so bad.
Forget your anger, and move on. It's not worth being upset. Rather than speaking badly of the system, encourage people to read around and make up their own mind.
Best of luck!
I agree. Parelli helped me when I was new in horses. Looking back now, it wasn't because he was this magnificent trainer, but his instruction/personality, weather it was real or not, helped me feel confident and calm. I can't really explain this well and probably sounds ridiculous, I know. But purchasing a cheap book and going to a clinic for free wasn't too bad for what I learned with my horse, despite if it was only smoke and mirrors that got me there.
Now, that I feel I have graduated in the horse world.....I don't see it that way any longer.