Robin asked me if I would consider fostering three new horses that had come to the sanctuary hundreds of pounds underweight. Gem was a beautiful strawberry roan gaited/quarter horse mix. The only thing she wanted from humans was food. I had no idea what to do with her. I felt she was way beyond my level of natural horsemanship skill.
6* Licensed Parelli Master Instructor Dave Ellis is monitoring the development of our two Road to the Summit Horses, Raven with 3* Parelli Professional Ashley Dudas and Zoe with 3* Parelli Professional Jerilyn Caldwell. Follow along as they complete 20 tasks designed by Dave Ellis and approved by Pat Parelli.
As George’s sessions progressed with Midnight, he learned to use the horse’s behavioral cues to check in within himself both emotionally and physically. He began to make connections between feelings of anxiety and increases in his heartrate. As George became more self-aware, he began to connect specific thoughts and feelings.
That little unwanted filly, named Fancy, I brought home years ago turned out to be a Level 4 riding and competitive driving horse. I used her for many years to demonstrate how Parelli Natural Horsemanship works. She went from a difficult horse to my dream horse within months!
He was not a bad man. He had bought Jewels with no intention of harming her. The problem lay with not knowing how to work with a horse like her. He was confused by her behavior. Why was she so difficult? What was wrong with her? She acted so crazy!
Linda said Jewels is an extremely challenging case and that we needed Pat to have a look at her. Most horses would have relaxed with the exercises we had been working on and made big changes. She was not like most horses… I was excited that the Master would look at my rescue horse!
I have been a horse lover from the first moment I knew what horses were! I grew up in suburbia, not understanding why my parents couldn’t fit a horse in our backyard. When I got my first job at age 16, before even buying a car, I bought a horse. I was so certain that I would know what to do with my horse (an unbroken range mare) because I had spent my childhood reading horse stories. All I needed to do was show it love, right?
Words get in the way. At a demo at a horse rescue, I struggled to find words to express myself to the crowd to be truly understood. I didn’t want any misunderstandings of what I was doing and why. Horses help me focus, so I relaxed into the rhythm of the horse in front of me, and spoke freely to the spectators. The terrified horse ran frantically back and forth in the round pen, crashing into the panels, trying to escape the predator who was in there with him, me. I spoke of how I listened to what the horse was saying: about me, about his past, about the horse he was born to be. I read him, breathed with him, looked into his soul. He calmed down and finally stood with his head down, licking his lips beside me. There were no words between us. I worked with him for an hour while he freely told me his story. And I listened.
If someone were to ask my horses the question, “What does it mean to listen?”, I’m pretty sure they would say: “Everything. It means everything.” Although horses have the ability to vocalize, their primary modes of communication are behavior, body language, touch and energy. We humans, on the other hand, tend to rely almost exclusively on spoken and written language to communicate. Because horses cannot speak or interpret our complex spoken languages, those of us who want to train and/or ride horses must learn to use body language, touch and energy to communicate with them.
Lori Northrup, president of the Parelli Foundation Board of Directors, has been named New York State Horse Council’s “2016 Horseperson of the Year.”