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September 13, 2017 3 Comments
First of all. For those who don't know what Parelli is. It's a natural horsemanship company that, among other things, trains instructors to follow a step by step horse training program, focused on foundation. Parelli has been around for over three decades and it's founders are extraordinary trainers, entertainers, and teachers. They aren't every body's "cup of tea"... but who is?
I'd been with the company on one level or another for nearly fifteen years. Prior to Parelli I spend over five years with other famous trainers including Ray Hunt, John Lions, Monty Roberts, and a few great local guys nobody's ever heard of. When I found out about Parelli, I liked what I saw. There was opportunity for a young guy like me to become a highly skilled professional. I started with Parelli, first as a student. Then employee, then franchised instructor. I wasn't mistreated. I wasn't misunderstood. I wasn't put in a comprising situation. Quite the opposite. Parelli, as a company, and I got along famously during the time I spend with them. I always felt my personal relationships with the company's founders we're well looked after too. So why did I leave?
Because something was missing and I needed the freedom to fill that gap, without the restraint of corporate red-tape and restrictions. Parelli felt like a church organization that claimed to "know all." But, in truth, the founders never felt that way. That's just part of a corporate phenomenon that attempts to keep everybody close. It's also a big problem with horse trainers in general. Read "Be Wary of Possessive Instructors"
The feeling was inescapable though. The thought that one place, had all the answers, felt a little too much like my religious upbringing. Not a horrible upbringing... just a little self-absorbed.
I always, if only intuitively knew, that many people outside my vision and circle of friends, must also have vast amounts of personal and valuable experiences. I knew there must be techniques available, but out of sight from the Parelli way of life. I have always explored beyond my own world. It's part of my nature. It's one of the reasons for these blog posts and the guest appearances on the new podcast.(coming soon)
My loyalty to Parelli, never truly disappeared. I still recommend the experience to people asking. But... It's not the end all, be all place for learning about horses. There is much more to learn about horses. I wanted to fill the gaps that Parelli missed and open doors to people outside the "natural horsemanship bubble," to express their views on training, horse management, equipment, techniques, and much more.
Parelli promotes "natural horsemanship". They do a great job of it. As many of you well know however, "natural" isn't a technique or style. "Natural" means philosophically, that you are interested in how the horse benefits from training, and not solely focused on what the human gets out of the deal. "Natural" means, kinder methods and softer training approaches. "Natural" means you care. It does not mean you are Parelli.
As many students of the horse know. You can do "Parelli" and still be abusive. And you can be traditional or performance oriented and still be "Natural". Read What Performance Riders Hate About Natural Horsemanship. to get a better understanding of what I'm talking about.
As a franchised instructor I always felt restricted in my ability to share of the knowledge of many great horse trainers around the world. I never felt free to write my book, "Leadership and Horses." And in truth. I burned out. I'd been injured many times while using Parelli methods and I didn't want that to happen again. I revised my teaching to avoid injuries. Both to humans and horses.
(Let me be clear! I could have been injured on a motorcycle. Parelli didn't injure me. I just missed the signals. I didn't see the potential for injury. And now, I put a great deal of thought into my teaching, to help people see the signals of potential hazards.)
Also, I'd taught the Parelli method for over a decade and was not getting the results I'd hoped out of my students. I found myself constantly looking for better resources to help them understand the value of certain exercises. Many of which you'll find in my book, Leadership and Horses and many you'll find in the online courses.
I have a heart for sharing. I have a passion for learning. I have an aversion to the "one and only" way of thinking that's so virally propagated in many parts of the horse industry.
I want people who study with me, to be free to learn without restrictions. To explore. To see beyond the four legs and strong back to the inner workings of the horses mind. Then back again, to the muscle, posture, physiology, athleticism and health of the horses body. I want people to see the whole picture. And to do that I have to rely on many fantastic people who share the horse industry with me. Including what's good about Parelli, Clinton Anderson, Edward Gal, Philippe Karl, Stacey Westfall, Julie Krone, and hundreds of others worth mentioning.
In summary. I left because it was time. I was ready. I had learned all of what they had to offer at the time. Perhaps they will have more for me at another time. I am open to that. Does that mean I know everything! NO! Of course not. I'm a student of the horse and ready to learn more. Just as I hope you are. I respect the people I worked closely with during my time with Parelli.
I harbor no ill feelings toward my experience or the people I associated with. In fact... I try to never harbor ill feelings toward anything for long, because I believe it's toxic.
I have many fond memories of my past. And I believe in progress, happiness, health, and empowering communication. I promote those things. My courses promote those things. My book promotes those things. I hope you do too. I hope my willingness to be authentic will inspire you to be authentic.
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October 17, 2017
Great post. Well written.
September 20, 2017
I love your candor! And your balanced view. May you prosper in your new work.
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March 29, 2021
Hi, I went to school with you at the CO ISC in 2003. I had a long background in PNH before I went and I enjoyed my time there. Passed level three and continued to train with these methods for years. I just let my results speak for themselves and didn’t continue with the program. I have continued to study with several professionals and am as passionate now as I was then about doing things for and with horses. I just randomly stumbled on this article and I appreciate you sharing your story .Nice to see faces from my time at the ISC so very long ago!