This is an old picture, but it is my youngest learning to ride on a just-broke to ride Arabian mare:
Notice the fire-breathing green-broke mare trying to hurt her very green rider? Neither do I. Lilly was a total sweetheart. Tell her "Please" and "Thank you", and she would give you everything she had!
There are horses that will try to do things wrong, but I think they may be more common as very experienced and arena sour lesson horses than as green broke horses. They can spook, but any horse on any given day CAN spook. I hope to get a ride in this morning before the winds pick up (predicted 40 mph this afternoon). My horse could spook.
Mia spooked on me when I first started riding. I got her stopped, tried to dismount before her mind was back, and she exploded in mid-dismount. It was my one fall, and did this:
That soft tissue damage still aches several times a week, after 7 years. So yes, you can get hurt. My horse could slip on the pavement today, and I'll be hurt.
Risk free means never riding. It also means no groundwork with horses. I've hit the ground far more times while standing near a horse than from their backs. For complete safety, don't go near a horse.
Parelli has an obsession with ground work. I've seen no more than 50% of groundwork carry over to behavior under saddle. At best. If someone tried to do a Parelli ground work test with Bandit, they would say he was unrideable. Totally unready to ride. Even though he has years of riding on him. And I think too much ground work annoys a horse. Horses like purpose. They like DOING things together. And none of mine see any purpose in doing circles, or being poked or having a lead rope shook in their face.
"...There is another thing to be considered with regard to the horse's character - it loves to exercise its powers, and it possesses a great spirit of emulation; it likes variety of scene and amusement; and under a rider that understands how to indulge it in all this without overtaxing its powers, will work willingly to the last gasp,which is what entitles it to the name of a noble and generous animal...
...Horses don't like to be ennuye, and will rather stick at home than go out to be bored ; they like amusement, variety, and society : give them their share of these, but never in a pedantic way, and avoid getting into a groove of any kind, either as to time or place, especially with young animals."
- On Seats and Saddles, by Francis Dwyer, Major of Hussars in the Imperial Austrian Service (1868)
Written 148 years ago by a military officer
. It has more to do with building a bond with your horse than anything I've found in Parelli's book. Now, in fairness to Parelli, a lot of people have been helped by his methods. But no one becomes a horseman by using a cookie-cutter approach to horses. When you trust your instinct, you will sometimes be wrong and may get hurt - but there is no other path to learning how to work with horses. IMHO. But no one would ever
pay me for advice...