What is the difference between playing and training? Well, to me, if I go back to the first weekend of March 1982, I was putting on my first seminar. My opening statement was: “Horsemanship can be obtained naturally through communication, understanding, and psychology versus mechanics, fear, and intimidation."
The Parelli Program has become the world's largest train-your-horse-at-home, web-based program with over 200,000 students. Parelli students apply the principles of communication, understanding, and psychology versus mechanics, fear, and intimidation. If I look at the “traditional” training tactics, and see where they get overdone, I can easily see how it’s perceived by the horse as torture. On the other hand, the word “play” indicates a joyful experience that creates behavior that is positive and highly functional.
From a young age, I felt there was something lacking in my journey with horses. I was taking lessons, working off my horse board, showing, and not having fun. In fact, I was anxious about going in the show ring to the point I couldn’t eat for a day before hand. The horses I was riding were expressing their dislike for the approach by being hard to catch and developing displaced behaviors in their stalls. I didn’t know if there was another way to “be” with horses, but I knew if this is what “being” with horses was like, it was not for me. I shifted my entire focus and decided to stop my journey with horses and redirect to a different path.
In 1990, I wrote a book for Western Horseman entitled Natural Horse-Man-Ship, which outlined the Six Keys of Success. The Six Keys were simple: Attitude, Knowledge, Tools, Techniques, Time, and Imagination. These Six Keys still exist (and at the end of the article, I will tell you about the seventh that I discovered after I wrote the book).
What is the difference betweennaturalandnormalhorsemanship?
Firstly, I’d like to start with synonyms of the word “normal”: conventional, common, average, or accepted. All of these words can certainly lead us to the heights of mediocrity, but not far beyond.
Now, let us look at the synonyms of “natural”: there are no known synonyms. But, according to Merriam-Webster, Inc., “natural applies to what conforms to a things essential nature, function, or mode of being.” The reason Pat Parelli coined the term Natural Horsemanship was because it is natural to horses and their way of learning and being. Using these methods, we can influence horses’ behavior in the way that we want them to behave by using the laws of nature.
There are only two kinds of people in the whole wide world: Horse-Lovers and… the other kind.
However, there are seven different types of horse-lovers, and they are start with ‘N’.There are Naturals, Normals, Nuts, Nuisances, Nerds, Nervous—and finally—the Negative Knockers.
We all have our own personalities based on four things: innate characteristics, environmental influences, learned behavior, and spirit. Winston Churchill rightfully said, “There’s something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man.”
Every little cowboy wants to wear a pair of spurs. . .
In my opinion, spurs are one of the most misunderstood and misused pieces of real horsemanship equipment. Why do I say that? Because spurs are not really designed to make horses go faster: their real use is to go sideways and up and down.
If used artfully, spurs can help you obtain a higher level of communication with your horse. To do so, we need to develop the philosophy, concept, and skills needed.
So, what is the difference between and English and Western riding foundations with horses? Well, I have been saying for the last four decades that the only real difference between English and Western riding done naturally is the same difference between a fiddle and a violin. In other words, horsemanship is a foundation based on psychology. It’s based on more scope than depth—more lateral thinking and less linear thinking. Regardless of whether we have a horse that is bred to be English or Western, we give them the same foundation. The Seven Games in the Four Savvys to Level Four is a great start for a horse.
“It's all my parent’s fault…” We've all heard that phrase about a thousand times. People complain about their childhood and how they were raised. Well, I’m the opposite: I give my parents all the credit for giving me a great foundation before the specialization. They taught me to become confident, curious, responsible, and respectful. For them, I will be forever grateful.
Spooking is a common occurrence among horses because they are prey animals wired to flee from danger. But the mere thought of being on or around your horse when it happens can be scary for us, too. Find out how you can help your horse manage a spook using equine psychology and leadership, as well as how to handle your own emotions through the things that often trigger your horse.
As a horse enthusiast, you probably care a lot about how your horse feels about you. If you’ve been wondering whether you can tell if your horse is connected, you can! And if you don’t think that your horse is connected to you yet, don’t fret. Horses are relationally dynamic animals, and we will share what you can do to start building your connection today.
Bareback horse riding is simply riding without any saddle on your horse’s back. Riding bareback can yield many benefits for you and your horse; but learning to do it well is not quite as simple as just removing the saddle and hopping on. Read on to learn how to prepare for riding bareback and our top tips to make the most of this exercise.
Horses communicate through a combination of body language, vocal sounds, and facial expressions. Much like humans, what theydon’tsay can be just as important as what they do say. While we speak vastly different languages, we can learn how to communicate with horses when the starting point islove, when we take the time to learn theirlanguage, and when we choose to be theirleaderbefore pursuing any other accomplishment.