This "Stuff" Works
by Ryan Pfouts on Aug 03, 2021
This "Stuff" Works
Pat Parelli developed a skeleton of communication that goes beyond the traditional yields and coupled them with love, language, and leadership principles. The Parelli Natural Horsemanship program works for any horse, any breed, any discipline. It works because it is NOT about the sport; it is about understanding and relating to the horse's point of view. Humans think very differently from horses, which seems obvious. Still, we try to rationalize the mistakes, bad behavior, and opposition with intellect when most of these issues are rooted in the simple emotion of fight or flight. This combination of human intelligence and rationalizing with the horse's instinctual and emotional nature can be like oil and water if you're not equipped with the right tools.
Horses are prey animals, which means they flee from predators. This instinct has been bred into them over thousands of years to survive in the harsh desert environment they evolved in. Unlike us, horses cannot stand up and fight, so their survival lies mainly on flight. They are also herd animals, by nature which is good for us because they have a desire to bond. When we approach our horses in a way that they understand, the bonding comes naturally.
... but it's not that simple.
Horses are incredibly perceptive (a survival mechanism), and they can sense your mood. If you come to greet them with a blank face (even if you're faking it), they'll know something is wrong and will respond accordingly with anxiety or aggression. You must be willing to take full responsibility for every thought you think, as a thought is energy after all.
The key is to not engage in the emotion but to stay objective. Often when things go array, we get stronger in an effort to be more clear. You can probably relate to a time you've been stressed, and you didn't need to person next to you to talk louder; you just needed them to present the idea in a way that made sense at that moment.
That is what Parelli does; we teach you how to structure your idea in a way that can be understood by your horse in any situation. In order to do this, we have to do some work, we have to teach you a basis for communication, we have to teach you how to read basic horse behavior, and we have to give you goals.
Parelli Natural Horsemanship is a training system based on horses and their nature, not ours. As a result, you can teach your horse to do things you may have never thought possible with any breed or discipline.
This "stuff" works ...! It is innovative, it is simple, and even if you are an old hand with horses, Parelli can still give you clues to personal understanding. Horsemanship is not about the sport or being better than someone else. Horsemanship is always about preserving the relationship with a horse in every situation.