I had first discovered Parelli Natural Horsemanship through Emma’s Pony Club days with Quill.  Emma went to a couple of Parelli courses which were held an hour away from us.  They were weekend courses. I camped at the grounds with Emma and her friend.  There were some lovely people there.  The vibe was very uplifting and positive – unlike the regiment of Pony Club.

Some of the people there went on to form the Nambucca Natural Horsemanship Club  which is still very active today!    It would have to be one of the best clubs around with great people ready to help when needed and to welcome newcomers.  Over the years I have visited them on and off – and also attended events with them.  They are an awesome bunch and I love catching up with them!  The feature photo is of club member Glenda Pate with River and below are some of the members of the club.


I really liked the fact the horses seemed much more relaxed than at Pony Club.  I loved that they wore halters for riding rather that bridles.  I had never heard of a horse being ridden without a bit.  It fascinated me!


I had bought the first Parelli lesson pack – complete with video cassette and little books.  It was really very well presented and I think at the time it was a first in the horse world. I also subscribed to the Savvy Club.  There was a monthly magazine which I loved reading.  These were the days when internet was quite new and magazines were still the easiest way to gain information.   In fact we were still on ‘dial up”  – remember that noise when connecting to the internet?

I also bought the next set of books and CDs.  I think the success of Pat Parelli has been not only his charismatic appeal, but his ability to get people excited, positive and motivated.  I went to a Parelli weekend in Sydney in 2007.  The atmosphere was electric.  The opening performance was a tear jerker!  Everyone was buzzing.  As you moved around the stands everyone was talking to everyone else – and the thing that was noticeable was that people were so friendly and enthusiastic.  That weekend I met people from all over Australia – I heard some great horse stories – and I watched some very skilled people riding horses.  This is the secret of his success – well done Pat Parelli for bringing people together like that.

From my Parelli days – there were several things that stuck in my mind – two positives and one which was not so good….   let’s talk about the not so good one first – I don’t really like being critical but I think it’s important to mention.

In the CDs there was video of a very nervous horse who had arrived at their complex.  It only had one eye.  The methods used to get it to stay in one spot really upset me.  I felt for that horse.  The poor thing only had half its vision and was obviously terrified.  It also looked very dangerous to me for the humans dealing with it.  I know this incident has been talked about more recently – but this was 2005 – no doubt everyone has advanced in their methods and things would be done a lot better.

But I was feeling that then! – when the CDs came out!  I felt uncomfortable – is that what I would have to do in that situation? I was no tough cowgirl!  Here were the biggest names in the horse world doing this – again – my usual phrase in my head “Well, what would I know?  They are the experts after all”.  Sadly this was a common phrase told to me over and over growing up – and I believed it.

That’s the criticism over with – phew!  Now for the positives!  There was a story Pat told about a showjumping horse that was refusing to jump.  It had lost all motivation.  Pat was asked to help with the problem.  He decided to hide carrots over the other side of the jumps.  The change in the horse was instant.  I think Pat’s words were something like this…

.“The horse looked at me as if to say – ‘where did that come from???’.  I said ‘I don’t know!!!  Do you want to see if there’s any more?’  ‘Sure thing!’ said the horse….  And then he was a different horse – jumping everything in sight!”

I loved that story – it felt like there was such caring and understanding for the horse.  I wanted to hear more stories like that.

I remember distinctly the other thing that has stuck with me.  In fact I even remember reading it – when we were living in our shed while building the house.  In the Savvy News magazine was an article by Dr Stephanie Burns – an extract from her (then) new book – Great Lies We Live By.  Several sentences struck a chord with me – for example ‘School not only fails to provide appropriate knowledge and skills for life in a changing world, more importantly, it deadens us as learners.’

Now that may not be true for everyone, but for me it was.  Many school years were miserable and I really didn’t think I was good enough.  In fact teachers used to write on my report – that I didn’t try hard enough and needed to show more interest.  I was in fact trying as hard as I could – but I was forever negatively reinforced.

Here was someone who understood – and Pat and Linda Parelli were finding interesting people like Stephanie to help their students learn.





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