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Pat Parelli demo a hit

November 30, 2008


Pat Parelli is a name synonymous with "horse whisperer", but the first thing he did at his demonstration clinic in Christchurch (November 25-26) was make it clear that the movie "The Horse Whisperer" was the worst example of such a person. You don't tie a horse down, you don't sit for hours and stare it down ... you make it your friend!

You make it want to come to you. You make it savvy and all things become possible.

About 700 people turned out to see "the master" at work on Saturday morning in the rain and wind and left knowing it was worth it. I don't think anyone could say they didn't get more out of that all-day session than they expected. I think we all wondered what we were in for and many were there as curious onlookers. Some were there hoping he would fail!

I think he made believers out of all of us and it does help to see the man himself at work. Many of us have watched his videos and that is good -- but to actually see the real thing is heaps better.

He taught us how to "hook on" to the horse. How to become on with the horse and think like a horse.

And, of course, he rode western, something pretty much unacceptable in New Zealand. However, he could make those horses do every dressage trick in the book with his western saddle. Hmmmmm. He was in New Zealand to teach horse people a better way ... a gentler way ... horse savvy, as he calls it, and I think he made believers out of those who were there considering the merchandise sales taking place later. All you need is a Parelli halter, rope, and carrot stick, and a desire to become one with the horse and you're on your way to becoming a better horse person. Of course, you need to gain the Parelli perspective on how horses think and put it to use.

During the two-day session he worked with a Clyde/thoroughbred cross in colt starting, and by the end of the second day, the filly had riders on her back without a buck. He worked with an out-of-control thoroughbred who was to be sent to the knackers because of its disposition. By day two Parelli was riding him around the arena under saddle and in control. Parelli stressed again and again how important ground work is before you get on the horse. He feels many horses in this country have little or no ground work and therefore no respect for their riders.

He worked with a girl who owned a beautiful dressage horse. Hen the horse initially entered the arena with her, it basically walked al over her and she was barely in control. After a couple of hours the horse was watching her every move and was respectful and happily doing what was asked of it. All of these things were accomplished without injuring the horse or breaking its spirit -- and without a bit or bridle.

Pat Parelli stressed throughout the session how a bit should never be used until you have a willing horse and want to fine-tune the relationship. A horse's mouth should never be reefed upon. It should be a gentle touch -- little or no pressure which gives the horse the instructions for the next thing you want of him.

And, of course, Pat had the audience in stitches at times with his Western humour. He said he was amazed how uptight people could be on a horse.

It is supposed to be a wonderful, exhilarating experience, as well as relaxing. He said he once saw a person so uptight that you could not have pulled a turkey leather out of his bum with a John Deere tractor.

I believe the seminar was a total success for those who attended. We were able to see Parelli horse people of various levels -- including young children -- riding their horses. One boy, Michael, truly impressed everyone with his abilities. It was as if he had velcro attached to his butt when riding his little white arab cross at full gallop. He and the horse were one and it was a beautiful sight to see how they related to one another. And as for horses -- there was every kind imaginable. It was clear to everyone that all types of horse responds to the Parelli method of training.

Best things learned: how to "hook on" to your horse where he wants to come to you and that your horse has his front hooves apart and rear hooves together, he is wanting to learn. If front hooves are close together and his back hooves apart -- Yeehaw! he's outta there!



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