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The Savvy Station

You are searching for a new horse for trail riding and are suddenly overwhelmed with the number of terms you hear—green broke, green horse, finished horse, broke horse. What do these terms mean, and how do you know which is the right horse?
  • 4 min read

Parelli Horsemanship Equipment: Developed by a horseman, for horsemen. 

One of the most essential aspects of horse development is the timing of the release. Horses learn when we release, not when we keep adding more and more pressure. Forty years ago, Pat Parelli began changing how we approach horse training, which meant that he needed to develop tools to support the mission. 

  • 3 min read

I am re-reading a book I read when I was 19 years old by Alois Podhajsky, the head of the Spanish School of Riding in Vienna. The name of the book is My Horses, My Teachers.

I remember being an enthusiastic young horseman. I wanted to become really good with horses, so good that even horses thought I was brilliant. Meanwhile, I'm reading from one of the grand masters about dressage. This piqued my interest. Even though I wasn't an English rider, I wanted to know everything about horses: how they feel, think, act, and play.

  • 4 min read

When determining how to engage with your yearling horse, the first thing to remember is that horses are prey animals and precocial species. This means that they are full-faculty learners at birth. As soon as a foal is about a month old, they start playing with the other foals. Guess what they do: they play prey animal pecking-order games!

Most of these games are fun and friendly to see who is the fastest, who can turn the quickest—fun little things like that. But it doesn't take very long before they become good buddies and start wanting to find out “who's who in the zoo”. Once your horse is weaned, you can start to play Seven Games with your horse on the ground, both On Line and at Liberty.

  • 4 min read
What in the world is a pasture potato? Well, I see them all over the world. Driving down the road, I’ll look over to my side, and—behold—I spot one or two horses just standing in the pasture. From human standards, the pasture looks big. But from horse standards, that same pasture is minuscule compared to what's in their heart—what’s in their DNA—which is to be out in the wild, running and roaming free.
  • 4 min read

“Foundation Before Specialization” is a very interesting catch phrase that reminds us that our horses may have a very difficult time trying to do something specific if they have not yet learned the value of following simple requests. 

Imagine being asked to dance a ballroom dance before you’ve even learned which foot is your left foot and which is your right foot.  Or perhaps being asked to construct a box before you know what tools will be needed. 

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.

  • 4 min read
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.
  • 2 min read
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).
  • 4 min read

What is the difference between natural and normal horsemanship?

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.

  • 3 min read

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.”

  • 5 min read

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.

  • 3 min read