Your opinion on Parelli - Page 2 - The Horse Forum
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post #11 of 402 Old 01-12-2013, 04:16 PM
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I am a fan of studying methods from any and every trainer you can gain access to. Store everything you see because what doesn't work on your current horse might work on the next one or the one you own 10 years from now...and something that does work on the horse you have now might be a pracitice in futility with your next one.

If you want to stick mainly with Parelli, then go for it, but I would also suggest you watch some stuff from Buck Brannaman and Larry Trocha (both of whom are much better horsemen than PP, IMHO), Stacy Westfall, Craig Cameron (his voice is annoying as heck, but he is a good horseman), etc. Don't limit yourself to only one trainer because that one trainer will only give you a few tools for your toolbox. The more trainers you study, the more tools you end up with, and the more situations you'll be able to handle.
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post #12 of 402 Old 01-12-2013, 04:27 PM
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I agree with the above post, and also have to say Parelli is a good place to start as it goes from very basics up. another good programme to follow to start from basics to higher levels is Quantum Savvy, they are based in Australia but have an excellent internet site.


i am fed up with the speed and the greed of the world around me but i have not found nor can i offer a cure
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post #13 of 402 Old 01-12-2013, 04:38 PM
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I personally mainly use Parelli, but study other clinicians as well. I would say that most of what Pat himself says is pretty good stuff. After all he is successful now but came up through a pretty tough career in the horse world. Many years at rodeo for example and then starting literally thousands of horses for a big outfit in the USA. Thus most of what he says has been "tested" with many many horses.
I think that the main reason Parelli gets bad press is
1) folks hate to think people are making good money out of their hobby, or if they do they should have the decency to hide the fact
2) so many people say they use his program but don't actually really put lots of effort into studying and following it. They then get into trouble, as you would in any program, and other people see this and say "there you are, Parelli doesn't work". In the UK there are so many people following it that by the laws of average there will be a fair few in this category. But then I see lots of traditional riders not achieving much with their horses either.
3) I would say the majority of my friends who study Parelli came to it in the first place because they had problem horses which traditional training could not fix. Therefore you tend to have a greater proportion of what were originally problem horses in the program than in the general horse population. Combine that with 2) and you will see some bad "Parelli" training and horses. On the other hand all of my friends who have studied diligently have had really good outcomes with their problems.

I also feel that Pat tends to go into much greater depth than some other clinicians, which really suits my personality but puts others off for understandable reasons. From what I have seen of CA he uses similar techniques, teaches the techniques well but gives less background as to how and why they work. I find I personally have to really understand a technique to be able to use it well, for others this is different.

As to the earlier comments about feed time and circling game they don't sound like anything I have been taught. Sometimes I do have to drive Filly out onto the circle as she tends to want to circle as close as possible and would actually prefer to be standing next to me. A gentle reminder with just a lift of the stick is all it takes for her to remember to stay on the 22 foot circle properly, online or at liberty. And frankly I like a horse that would rather be with me than high tailing it into the distance at the first opportunity.
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post #14 of 402 Old 01-12-2013, 04:56 PM
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Parelli has moved mountains in reeducating people about horses, that there are better ways of training that don't involve cruelty. A horse's perception of the carrot stick is not of a whip unless he's previously been hit with one. Parelli and others teach that it's an extension of the arm that keeps the handler in a safe zone. I'm all for that.
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post #15 of 402 Old 01-12-2013, 05:40 PM
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Not a fan of Parelli at all......nobodys should explore a lot of different trainers, Larry Trocha for one has a good method and he doesn't speak a whole pile of horsey psychobabble.....there is lots and lots of methods, you need to find the few that you feel you can implement most effectively at your level:)

Go with your gut....if something seems's probably because it is, and if something seems magical it's probably just smoke and mirrors:)
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post #16 of 402 Old 01-13-2013, 01:41 AM
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I like the concept Parelli has.

I don't like the way he complicates stuff by using a lot of words to say very little (perhaps because I do this and your own faults are what irk you most about other people!) and has a lot of fancy and catchy terminology you really have to learn or memorize to keep track of what's happening.

I do like the exercises because they are pretty much common sense. I like the step-by-step from-ground-up system he has built. I like how he has opened a lot of people to other ideas and ways of working, just like Monty Roberts has.

I don't like how saying his name in a training situation needs a minute of explaining why you are bringing him up and whether it is "for real" or mock. I don't like the way his program has developed over the years (I've come across Parelli back in the nineties). I don't always like the results his methods get.

What this means? All in all, I'm not for or against Parelli, I don't really like Parelli or dislike it either. There are a lot of good stuff in the program. I use things I've learned from Parelli every day and has found them useful. But a fan? No. Just like I'm not a fan of any trainers out there. "Pick'n'mix 'em" is the only training system I can fully support!
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post #17 of 402 Old 01-13-2013, 02:01 AM
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Pat: "Know what happens before what happens happens" he got that from either Ray Hunt or Tom Dorrance. What it basically means is that in any situation/event you have to know what what your horse is going to do before he even knows he's going to do it.
Also, much of Pat's teaching ability can be accredited to the fact that his son Caton is disabled. I mean, when Pat taught Caton, he had to break everything into smaller and smaller steps for Caton to learn, thus Pat taught himself how to break things down and learn the very very basic fundamentals of everything, which he now applies in teaching others.
Also, I've seen pat enter colt starting competitions, but I don't think he's ever won one. But that is because he is more concerned about teaching the horse than winning the competition

"It is the difficult horses that have the most to teach you" - Double Dan Horsemanship
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post #18 of 402 Old 01-13-2013, 04:01 AM
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I had never thought about the effect Caton must have had on Pats training style. It's a very good point though.
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post #19 of 402 Old 01-13-2013, 04:09 AM
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Originally Posted by kayhmk View Post
"Pick'n'mix 'em" is the only training system I can fully support!
I think that for experienced folks that is probably the best idea, but for newcomers it could lead to extreme confusion. I would prefer to see people take time to pick a clinician they really like, then pretty much stick to that program for a while.

After all Parelli is only supposed to help you put a foundation on yourself and your horse. Most folks take many years to get to level 4 (and that will probably include me ) but the original idea is that you should get through the levels in a few years at most. Level 1 in around 3 to 4 weeks is a realistic target according to Pat.

Once you have this knowledge even Pat strongly advices seeking out instruction from other trainers to put the finish on yourself and your horse. Also please remember that Parelli is primarily a people training program, not a horse training program.
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post #20 of 402 Old 01-13-2013, 08:40 AM
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This will be a long post

Cliff Notes Version: I like most everything about the Parelli program so far. It has literally changed my life and the lives of horses around me. Read on for the explanation.....

I grew up with horses. I am middle aged now. Training, clinics, breaking youngsters, getting on problem horses, showing, rescuing the starved and old....I grew up in a horsey family. My parents raised warmloods, thoroughbreds, and some quarter horses. I was literally riding before I could walk. I was in a professional lesson program with a top name hunter/jumper competitor by the time I was in fourth grade. Got into dressage and took countless lessons. Did some western showing, some trail riding, and so forth. I was the one that would jump on an untrained 4 yr old and be cantering them around the pasture in the wide open after 2 or 3 rides. This isn't meant as a brag, it's just the history of where I came from with horses. Horses is ALL I have ever known. It's ALL I've ever done.

Now I am a barefoot trimmer, and my full time job is working with and around and underneath horses. I see ALL kinds, from the highly trained show horse to the rank rescue horse and everything in between. Foals, to 35 years old. Big, small, trainable, nasty, you name it. I also encounter all types of owners, from highly professional trainers and competitors, to backyard sally who never sees her horse except when I'm there to trim its feet....

I was led to the Parelli program because of a horse I own that I was having consistent problems with, no matter how much I rode her, trained her, changed her feed, treated for ulcers, changed her tack, etc.... We were just missing something. We were butting heads too much, she was having too many tantrums out of frustration, and I was getting too upset to enjoy owning her.

Friends began lending me DVDs to watch and talking to me about Parelli. Previously I had a "bad taste" in my mouth due to all the neativity I read on forums. I had both positive and negative experiences with Parelli horses so I was kind of undecided and skeptical.

At this time I have watched ALL of the DVDs from Levels 1 - 4, the Success Series, the Patterns course, and about 15 various Savvy Club monthly training videos. I am a Parelli Connect member, and a monthly Savvy Club member. I have been to two Horse and Soul Tour Stops, one where I drove my own horse 16 hours one way to be a demo horse. Pat worked with her about 2 hours. Here is my summary:

1. Cost of Videos and Equipment: Yes it is expensive. HOWEVER: what horse equipment is NOT expensive?! Seriously! I used to spend $45 for a dressage training DVD, or $450 for a nice leather training bridle, or $175 for a pair of how is a $250 Parelli bridle, or a $19.99 DVD excessively expensive and a rip-off? It's not. If you want to attend a George Morris clinic, you will pay for it. If you want to own Jane Savoie's training DVDs, get out of your checkbook! Parelli is NOT charging excessive fees for anything he sells. In fact, I find his stuff much more affordable than most traditional dressage type equipment! $150 for a martingale, no problem, $280 for a high quality sheepskin saddle pad? That's normal. So why is Parelli attacked for charging normal prices for good, high quality equipment?

2. You have to use Parelli brand Equipment: No you don't. I don't remember hearing one single time, Pat or Linda Parelli say that if you don't use THEIR equipment, you cannot be successful. They will say that you need a specific length or weight of rope, or that your saddle needs to fit well and not hinder your horse, but they actually do not push their products in their videos at all.

Many people don't like the idea of the "carrot stick" because it's just a whip with Parelli's name on it. Well, not really. It is stiffer than a typical dressage whip. It doesn't "woosh" in the air, or crack like a whip can. That makes it friendlier and less threatening to the horse. Yes you can use any type of stick that acomplishes the same thing.

3. You only play games and never ride: False. You start riding right away in the beginning levels. Pat has addressed the problems of people perpetually stuck in Level 1 doing ground work. I heard him at a tour stop say - people tell him they've been doing Level 1 for 3 years now, and it makes him cringe. He said you should be able to master Level 1 in a WEEK! Then move on people! I would say 75% of everything I have watched in all the DVDs has been focused on saddle work. Yes the Parelli focuses on the RELATIONSHIP above all else. So if you are going to damage your relationship with the horse by focusing on a certain detail of performance, then you need to step back and reassess. But nowhere in the training materials does Pat or Linda say not to ride, or stay on the ground for 7 years doing the 7 games like so many people get stuck doing.

4. Catchy terminolgy and cutesy sayings...childish and annoying: Many people have been taught to dominate a horse. Give him an order and he obeys. I have even heard Julie Goodnight say this on a training tape, "There is only one conversation that should ever occur between a horse and a human - the human says horse this is your captain speaking, and the horse says yes ma'am!" So Parelli I feel is trying to change the way people think. Get you to think as a TEAM with your horse. Give and take, relationship, and mutual rapport and respect. Love, language, and leadership. Too many people think of horses as dumb slaves that ned to be commanded and whipped or spurred when they don't respond. Yes the terminolgy is different, but I find it a bit refreshing after so many years of traditional dictatorship type training.

5. Parelli horses are spoiled, rude, and pushy: I do think a lot of "Parelli horses" have major behavioral issues because so many people are stuck at Level 1 for years and never progress. Or they don't understand the psychology behind the games, or the horse's body language. I have seen Pat discipline horses, and get downright rough with them when the horse purposely and intentionally defied his requests and disrespected his space. I have seen it in real life, and on some of the DVDs. He asks nicely, and with as little force as necessary, but is ready to back it up with more "bite" if needed. Trust the horse will respond, but be ready to correct if he doesn't. That is one of the principles he teaches over and over. I think people are ruined on Parelli by being around Parelli horses owned by beginners who misinterpret the program, or don't follow through. Middle aged women with empty nest syndrome and extra cash who go out and buy a big old spoiled greenie and then "do Parelli" probably isn't the best respresentation of what the program can do. Sorry for the offense, but many people "do" a program or method in their speech, but in their, not really.

I work with horses daily as my job, and I have seen "Parelli" horses, that didn't know the most basic of basics, but their owner thinks they are highly trained in the Parelli program. That's not a good representation of the program.

6. Parelli hasn't invented anything, only copied the older masters: Yes, and in fact, he states this on darned near every DVD he has ever produced! You can't hardly watch for an hour without hearing a reference to Tom Dorrance, Ray Hunt, or several others from back in the 70s. He has done tributes just to honor those people. At both tour stops I attended, I heard several references to those masters and what they taught him. Just yesterday on a DVD Pat said he wanted to share something he figured out years ago. Then he stopped and clarified - well, he didn't figure it out for humanity, others already had, but he had figured it out for himself so he wants to share with us how he came to learn this.....

All the claims of Parelli being a rip off an a sheister for packaging what others taught him, really aren't justified. I cannot count the number of times Pat says that what he's about to teach or talk about was taught him him back in 19____ by ________ (whomever.) There is no grand delusion that he invented any of this stuff.

If anyone actually takes the inititive to WATCH him in person and on DVDs, instead of believing internet gossip, they would know that Pat and Linda Parelli reference these masters on just about every training topic they discuss! I was not expecting this at all and was quite shocked to hear these names brought up over and over again.

Pat actually tells MANY stories of mistakes he made, or misconceptions he had that were straightened out by some of those old masters, for him.

IN SUMMARY: Can the Parelli program by misused, abused, or totally misinterpreted by beginners and advanced horsemen alike? Sure! Any program or method, or traditional training system can! How many people in history have abused horses with draw reins? How many have gotten horses injured trying to load them in trailers, or rope a cow when they didn't know what they were doing? How many dressage riders have ridden horses high headed, hollow, and behind the bit and thought they were "riding dressage?" Countless! Humans are flawed by nature, and prone to error in anything we do.

Are their spoiled, nasty, unrideable "Parelli" horses out there that we come in contact with? Sure! But there are many non-Parelli horses fitting that description too. The method is only as good as the one applying it. And ANYTHING we apply to a horse has the potential to be screwed up.

If I have learned anything so far while studying the Parelli program, it would be this:

Smile, have fun, enjoy your horse, focus on solutions and not problems, don't blame the horse, don't be a direct-line thinker, recognize that most "problem horses" are because of problem humans, make things interesting and provocative for the horse, don't drill and kill, give the horse more responsibility and trust he can handle it, don't be so critical and negative! Learn to see the good in every horse and every situation, view challenges and problems as opportunities.....

But most of all, I have learned a LOT about myself. I have learned that no matter how many years of horse training and handling experience I had, there was so much I didn't know or was doing wrong. Just changing something so simple as the look on my face and the intention in my heart, can change the ENTIRE outcome of a session with a horse.

You cannot get frustrated, angry, or upset with the horse. You have to remain positive, look for the good in the situation, accept small steps of improvement.

So am I a carrot stick totin', Kool-Aid drinkin' extremist? Heck no! Whatever works, works. If it doesn't work, try something else, as I did with the one mare that I was just getting flat NOWHERE with....but if you're happy, horse is happy, you're having great success and no issues, then what you're doing is obviously just fine. But the Parelli program is just one more arrow to tuck in your quiver if you encounter a LOT of horses on a daily basis like I do, or come up against some problems that you just can't seem to fix the traditional way.
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