Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The post I wish I could have written. A bit of background: I've been nosing around online for a used Natural Performer saddle (size Large 17", medium fenders, chestnut or medium oil is my dream) for an affordable price. In the process, I came across several postings on other forums about Parelli.

One of them almost made me lose my Emotional Fitness.

I just really get frustrated sometimes with the ignorance that abounds, and it irks me when people speak authoritatively about Parelli when they actually (as evidenced by their misinformation) know nothing about Parelli or the program! These are the people responsible for the spreading of misinformation and the bad press that sometimes follows us Parelli folks around (not to mention the Parelli-trained horses that some people think need to be "fixed" and "un-Parellied" because they don't understand that it's not the horse, it's the PERSON who isn't responding correctly).

If it upsets me this much, I can't imagine what it must be like to actually BE Parelli and know what is being said.

Which is why I'm not a Parelli, I'm just a student of theirs. :-) Then again, their EF must be well-developed by now.

Anyway. The forum thread I was reading had to do with a girl who had just bought a horse from someone who had Parelli'd it, and it had behaved perfectly for the owner, but now she had it home with her and was having problems. So she came to a random horse forum seeking help from a Parelli person because she can't afford the DVDs.

Of course, she unwittingly started the typical "natural vs normal" war that seems to occur on these forums, and generated several pro-Parelli endorsements along with the usual venomous anti-NP trashing and Parelli-bashing. I was happy to read the Parelli respondees and their patient polite responses, but I blew a gasket when I saw a post that lumped Parelli in with the other NP trainers, calling it a generic training method that only works with some horses but would never work for an Arab, and saying Parelli and Clinton Anderson are pretty much the same if you can just ignore the philosophy stuff.

(Why, I ask, would you want to ignore the philosophy?)

This is what I wish I could have posted, had I wanted to bother to join a forum so obviously out of alignment with my own principles (and I might have a bit of my own data about Horsenalities wrong--it was written in passion; were I to post it, I'd research to make sure I had it right!):

Responding to the comment that CA and PP are generic:

Please exclude Parelli from this list, as Parelli is not generic. A huge part of the Parelli method involves isolating the individual horsenalities to help the student understand how to teach the horse. This is in reference to the comment that "Parelli won't work for some horses"—meaning the spookier ones or the ones with more energy like Arabs. This is not true. The other natural methods may be less effective than Parelli only because they tend to use one technique for every horse, whereas Parelli insists on determining the horsenality first—RBI, RBE, LBI, LBE—then adjusting the techniques accordingly in order to be as effective as possible.

For example, an LBI is motivated by food and "what's in it for me". Treats used as incentives—NOT BRIBES and there is a difference—will work with an LBI and encourage him to respond. The use of subtlety in cues, raising the horse's curiosity, and keeping him on his toes with a lot of variety will engage the horse's brain and keep him focused on and interested in you. They need quickness in the questions we ask of them, and they get bored easily. When they get bored, they act up. They can be a challenge because the human must be thinking one step ahead and have a plan in place, otherwise the horse will take over and recreate a new plan.

An RBE, however, is an entirely different animal. This is a high-energy horse very geared towards a flight response. This horse seeks safety and strong leadership. The human must match the horse's energy and go four ounces further. RBI's, on the other hand, need gentleness, softness, slower requests and a LOT of time to dwell in between. Patience is paramount with these horses, because they have serious trust issues and a lot of fear. I've worked with an RBE Arab who would be completely focused on me for quite awhile, then suddenly just lose focus. The moment she lost focus, she was a mess again.

All of this is found in the very in-depth Liberty & Horse Behavior study materials.

The philosophy and psychology Parelli's methods teach are what makes the program so effective! Until you understand WHY pressure motivates and release teaches, or WHY a RBI will react differently to a scary situation than an LBI (for example), you cannot fully understand the horse. Until one understands the horse, one will not be effective with him. No matter how well the person can keep their balance in the saddle, or how many Olympic/Rolex jumps and obstacles the person can get the horse over.

There was a post I saw on a blog today that claimed 90% of Parelli followers only do groundwork and never get in the saddle, and wondered why. I did respond to that one.