All three trainers obviously get results, I won't argue with that
. I don't have a lot of experience with John Lyons' methods, but what I have seen appears to rely a lot on roundpen work, which makes life difficult if you do not have access to that kind of equipment. I saw one episode of his TV series a long time ago and there was a lot of religion and a little horse training. No problem with the religion, but not what I was expecting based on the TV guide discription of the show.
You're right his OLD stuff had a lot of round pen to it. His NEW stuff doesn't require a round pen at all. He's actually steered away from that. He now has a very basic and very useful simple tool: Bridlework.
It's basically the rein cues you're going to need in the saddle, you start to teach them on the ground first. So, just you, your horse and a bridle (or halter and lead rope). There's a Yield to Pressure exercise...and his Ground Manual stuff and Riding Manual stuff. No round pen needed unless you want to do the leading with contact, and even then...you really don't need a round pen....
He still talks a lot about religion, he's a minister, so I guess that might have something to do with it...
He's on Horsetv now, but I don't get that channel, so I haven't seen anything of his lately.
Parelli is a giant gimmick, and his TV show is essentially an infomercial. His horses do listen, and he gets results, but if I rode in a show class in the manner dictated by his system, I would never place.
Marketing is his strength for sure. But you also have to take into consideration that his stuff and Lyons, Clinton Anderson, Chris Cox,...all the NH stuff is BASIC foundation. It's not a finished product. It's a starting point. So, I don't see why you wouldn't be able to place in any discipline if you have a good solid foundation (I think if you can train the horse to listen willingly, be desensitized enough, and sensitized to pressure, that is a good foundation).....then you just add the discipline you want.
And actually, Chris Cox was working on a dressage horse who was being prepped for Grand Prix level...... who was a bucker and a bolter regardless of his years of top notch training. His trainers figured he might be a lost cause, but then as a last resort asked Chris Cox to work with him. He put him through some basics to retrain him to stop those behaviors. I was surprised to see that even a high level trained horse, a $$$ horse had issues because of a faulty basic foundation. So, there's where NH stuff can come in....which is just basic common sense stuff...nothing major, you know? Like bending exercises, get control of the hip, etc...
Clinton Anderson is by far my favorite of the three. His methods are easy to understand and simple to employ. My newest horse is a green broke mixed breed gelding, quiet and with a good mind, but lacking ridden experience. I am currently following CA's Gaining Respect and Control on the Ground and Under Saddle exercises with much success. I have heard CA state that you must gain the horse's respect before he will become a partner. Parelli follows the polar opposite philosophy - partnership leading to respect. Do some CA basics, then, if you feel like it, try the Seven Games to keep your horse interested and fresh. If you have a problem, go back Downunder
Clinton Anderson is awesome. But I have to disagree about Parelli following the opposite. Through his 7 games he shows you how to gain respect by way of moving the horse's feet. Same as CA. Same as JL, same as.... it's all just about moving the feet. If you move the horse's feet, and direct those feet in certain directions with pressure and the horse complies, you get "respect" as the leader.
I really like CA's Lunging for respect part 1 & 2. I use these all the time for pretty much everything on the ground. I really like the rollbacks part of it.
Wish he would come out to Calif more often!