Waypoint Ranch in Carrollton, Georgia was founded as a nonprofit organization to provide a place where veteran families can find effective, evidence-based treatments combined with holistic alternative therapies on a working ranch. Having experienced first-hand the toll military service takes on a family, Founders Ray and Stephanie Cirasa are dedicated to supporting veteran families through the challenges associated with recovery from service-related injuries. Over the past 16 years this program has rehabbed more than 50 horses and supported over 500 individuals.
After extensive research, there is arguably no better modality for addressing PTSD than Equine Therapy for those with continued PTSD,” said Retired Colonel Dr. Sean Hollonbeck, MD, MPH, a retired Army aerospace & family medicine physician who is also a Member of the Board of the Directors of the Parelli Foundation. “Globally, short, focused equine-based models with natural horsemanship educational principals are changing lives. Horses are nature’s ultimate prey survivors. They are non-judgmental, want to serve, and can teach immediate tools to veterans and other PTSD survivors.”
California based Wild at Heart Horse Rescue received a 2019 Horse Welfare grant from the Parelli Foundation. The mission of Wild at Heart Horse Rescue is, where possible, to rehabilitate, train, and prepare rescue horses to become the well-loved family members they are meant to be.
Wildhorse Ranch Rescue is creating a magnificent ripple effect for rescued horses, volunteers, adopters, and staff!
In 2019 Wildhorse Ranch Rescue, located in Gilbert, Arizona (www.wildhorse.org ) received a $5,000.00 Horse Welfare grant and other resources from the Parelli Foundation. Founder Kim Meagher wrote the grant for what she calls the Live Your Dream with a Rescue Horse and Adoption Program.
“Being subject to this Parelli clinic I was able to take in the whole clinic from the outside and learned what a little consistency and pressure can teach. Not only for the horses but for the human participants as well. I am truly grateful for this unique experience. It has opened my eyes from the perception I have, always working from the ground. This has opened my mind on communication both interpersonal and body language. I cannot Thank Elli enough for her fun and enthusiasm during her visit with us. We hope to have her back real soon!” – Rachel Barkley-ACTT Naturally Volunteer
One veteran who participated is a former Marine who was discharged from active duty in 2013. Attending a program at Heart of Horse Sense was his first attempt at self-care/healing since his coming home. In his words, “I was able to leave with a new understanding of communication. I keep everything inside as I feel a lot of veterans do. However, with the horse interaction, it showed me that everyone has been through something on some level (including the horses). I discovered the only way through it is, well — through it. The horses as well as the staff gave me the WANT to take that first step in healing and recovery.”
A Licensed 2* Parelli Professional known as “Nancy Natural” hosted a retreat for Special Operations veterans who are on a working journey. “They are self-starters, self-guided, and self-driven at Waypoint Ranch in Carrollton, Ga., where their motto is “Live, Learn, Work, Ride. Your self-carriage is your choice,” said Nancy Slater. “Stephanie Cirasa runs the Peace at Home Project there using her horses. She wanted to see what I was doing in Lake Wales, Fla., using Parelli Natural Horsemanship as a healing tool.”
After funding for equine-assisted counseling ran dry for veterans at S.T.E.P.S. with Horses in Texas, a $2,500 grant from the Parelli Foundation drew them back in July 2019. Licensed professional counselors (or supervised graduate-level interns) and Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH Intl.)-certified equine specialists in mental health and learning have since held 18 sessions for four clients.
Horses were the furthest thing from my mind when my friend asked me to attend a local “roundup” for kids at a small barn 6 years ago. It was a bright spring day. A gentle breeze cooled us off from the beating Georgia sun. I stood there in my tennis shoes, awkwardly waiting for my turn to get on the horse. Still, to this day, I remember that first ride. How the saddle squeaked under my weight. How looking down on everyone else gave me an excited chill. How, when I looked up and really felt that horse move under me, I felt like I was someone else. Something else. No longer was I entirely me. Something changed—clicked —within me.
Horses at risk, especially those in their golden years and those blind, are well off at the Maryland Horse Rescue Rehabilitation and Adoption in Mount Airy, Md. A Parelli Foundation grant in 2018 furthered their ability to partner with humans after training by 2* Licensed Parelli Professional Dru Lucia Roia.
“Consistency in handling is vital when you have many volunteer hands working with a herd of therapy horses,” Mary said. “The training the volunteers received has made them more effective leaders, teaching them to think like a horse! We have also been fortunate to have Debbie share her talents to teach us all a new and effective way to communicate with our horses.”
As the therapy horses became more interested in their humans, the humans got hooked on horse psychology. “There was one woman with a dressage background who was fairly new to the program,” said Christi. “She was skeptical about Parelli and didn’t see any value in it. Then she got excited—she was the biggest proponent!”
Such enthusiasm is important for team members. They’re tasked with promoting success, independence, and dignity among students.
In June, Animal Guardians Horse Rescue, Inc. (AGHR) in central California used a Parelli Foundation Horse Welfare grant to buy Parelli Natural Horsemanship (PNH) tools and hire 4* Licensed Parelli Professional (LPP) Susan Nelson Thibault. In the high desert town of Tehachapi in the southern Sierra Nevada mountain range, the group gathered for a Parelli Charity Fundraiser Clinic at 3L Ranch, which Susan operates with her husband, Maurice, also a 4* LPP.
As an infant I held Garrett Eigenhuis and bounced him for quite some time to get him to sleep. When he was a three year old, I remember him dashing across the front yard and wrapping his arms around my legs when I arrived at his home. Now at seventeen and 6’1” tall and a Parelli Foundation scholarship recipient, his love and deep passion for horses and the Parelli method of natural horsemanship has ignited in me a like passion…a passion I never knew I had.
3* Licensed Parelli Professional Jody Grimm-Ellis’s story is unique and beautiful, yet it is not unusual to find such fabulously similar individual stories in the Parelli family. It is a story of love—and the sweat and commitment behind it—of those who wish to truly make a difference in the lives of horses and the people who love them.
We have incorporated the Parelli methodology into our volunteer training and horse handling programs with great results. Because we are a therapeutic riding center our horses are handled by many different individuals. We feel the Parelli methods are a wonderful way to insure consistency in handling our horses as well as significantly improve the environment that our horses are required to live in. We have resolved many behavioral issues by improving our volunteers’ and staff’s horsemanship skills.
The boys’ eyes were wide with anticipation as the bags were opened and the Parelli equipment was presented. Two-star Licensed Parelli Professional Debbie Adcock had somehow managed to haul horse blankets, carrot sticks, telescoping poles, and various tack onto several planes, through four airports. After traveling for 2 days, everything had arrived safely. Their smiles were overwhelming.
Inexperienced hands and riders can be very taxing on a horse’s body and mind. The degradation began to manifest inside of Jake. He began to nip the person leading him and refused to move when asked. Now, when Jake sees Lisa, he prances along the fence lines begging for her to come and play, all because he and his human friends have learned the concepts of natural horsemanship.
Copy editing and writing for the Parelli Foundation is a respite from my bread-and-butter work on medical textbooks and journals. Although it’s rewarding to help doctors publish their findings, it’s not as fun as reading about horses and the people who love them.Joan’s daughter JackieAlso fun is studying Parelli Natural Horsemanship in midlife after a childhood of hacking around the family cattle farm on my Shetland pony and Appaloosa.
Achaius, which means “horseman” in several languages, is the name of a ranch serving upwards of 200 youth in Ladoga, Indiana. Co-founders Elisha and Rodney McCulloh received a $2,500 grant in 2018 and welcomed 3* licensed Parelli Professional Tiffany Rowe.
When asked about teaching the staff, Tiffany said: “Achaius is a special place! You can feel the positive energy when you arrive. I love going there. I am always excited about working with the youth and horses at Achaius.
Like many Thoroughbreds, Indigo tried his best at the track but was dismissed as “too slow.” An osteopathic veterinarian determined that the gelding had suffered at least three fractures—on the forehead, sternum, and tail. “I still don’t know what happened to him before he came home with me,” Regnier said. Because of back pain after a jumping accident, her focus was on groundwork and studying something she’d heard about, the Parelli Natural Horsemanship (PNH) Seven Games. Together they found a road back to wholeness. In gratitude, she began volunteering for the Parelli Foundation in 2017
A Parelli Foundation donation of halters, Level 1 kits, and $500 delighted the Heritage Community, a residential treatment center for adolescents in Provo, Utah. Former Licensed Parelli Professional and Utah resident Lillan Roquet brought six staff members up to Level 2 in all-day clinics with their therapy horses. The scholarship even allowed instructors to submit audition videos to Parelli Natural Horsemanship to mark their progress.
Kim Meagher, founder and chairman, said: “While we’ve used the methods and held clinics here and there, we never had the funds to provide enough proper equipment and frequency of clinics for our volunteers and staff. With the Parelli Foundation grant, after 23 years, we are finally a 100% Parelli Natural Horsemanship Rescue! We removed all of the non-Parelli gear and outfitted our ranch with only Parelli equipment.”
This year, the Parelli Foundation was proud to provide LEAD with Horses a grant to assist them in local community outreach. “I can tell you that the response to this outreach effort was fantastic. Thanks to the Parelli Grant funds, our brochures reached new families and schools, and we have almost doubled the number of children served this year. We expanded classes and have also added new courses to meet the demand,” said Jeane Spada-Allgood.
Instead of running circles around her grazing mother at Atwood Ranch, Danica now runs circles around Anna Furber’s heart. This kindhearted, right-brained introvert from the Road to the Summit in 2015 found her forever partner, and oh the mountains they have climbed together—literally!
Horses have a demanding job at McKenna Farms Therapy Services. They help youth with special needs, ages 5 to 21, to achieve their full potential through participation in the hippotherapy, therapeutic riding, and equestrian team programs. McKenna Farms Therapy Services is a non-profit organization in Dallas, Georgia that serves 500 children per week with the help of 23 therapists, dozens of volunteers, and 16 horses.
Kari Bowser is a 2-Star Licensed Parelli Professional from Quebec, Canada, who recently received a $2,000 scholarship that she will apply toward the costs of attending Pat Parelli’s Mastery Program. ‘“Receiving this scholarship means more than just the money”, says Kari. “It was such an amazing feeling when I got the news to know that the Foundation and others had a belief in me that warranted this scholarship.”
In 2017, The Parelli Foundation provided a grant for school supplies to Victory Ridge Academy in Lake Wales, Florida, a special needs charter school that focuses on education and therapy. Nancy Slater is proudly entering her 5th year teaching Parelli Natural Horsemanship in public schools. Horses are an important part of the therapy program at Victory Ridge Academy where Nancy has been the PATH International Instructor (Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship). A therapist once commented on how her work with therapy horses is similar to other types of behavioral modification used with students.
Erin Fowle is a Parelli Foundation scholarship recipient and a 3* Parelli Professional. All scholarship recipients are required to give a few hours of their time to help in one or more of our program areas; Youth Horsemanship, Therapeutic Horsemanship, Horse Welfare, and Scholarships for the Talented and the Career Minded. This requirement is called “Pay-It-Forward”. Here are some thoughts from Erin about her horsemanship journey with the Foundation and her Pay-It-Forward experience.
The Parelli Foundation has made a grant to Windhaven Therapeutic Riding (WHTR), a non-profit organization that offers a variety of courses for veterans, active-duty, and reserve members of the military in La Center, Washington. Created by veterans for veterans, the program runs for a minimum of two years and provides an effective treatment alternative to those for whom standard treatment has not been effective or when treatment side effects are not tolerated well.
Nine Master Horseman All in the Same Arena, Supporting the Parelli Foundation’s Programs!! On May 5-7, 2017, the Parelli Foundation hosted Festival Magnifico in Hamilton, Texas. During the weekend, we showcased our Rehoming 4 Life, Road to the Summit, Future of Horsemanship, and scholarship programs. The centerpiece of Festival Magnifico was a gathering of nine Master Horsemen to collaboratively demonstrate the potential of natural horsemanship. Horses helping people and people helping horses was the predominant theme throughout the event, as were key learning opportunities, uplifting stories, demonstrations of incredible horse-human partnerships, along with fun, exciting horsemanship challenges that attracted amateurs and professionals alike.
Within the Parelli Natural Horsemanship family, there are a few shining stars who selflessly dedicate their lives to making the world a better place for horses and humans. One of those people was Susan Carr Hanson. With her own blend of enthusiasm and determination, combined with a riotous sense of humor and boundless energy, Susan encouraged everyone around her to strive to be the best they could be, in life and for their horses. Earlier this year, the world suffered a loss with the sudden and unexpected passing of Susan.
There were no Parelli instructors in Nova Scotia, but Ada’s parents had always tried to provide an environment that encouraged her to fully engage her interests. When she was ten, they helped her connect with other PNH students. For the first three years, she played with half-a-dozen horses owned by members of the small Parelli community. These experiences made her realize that one day, she too would like to empower humans to be the best they could be for their horses, just as her mentors empowered her.
On May 13, 2016, ACTT Naturally was recognized by the Parelli Foundation for the wonderful work it is doing: helping horses and humans live a better life both through Parelli Natural Horsemanship and the equine-facilitated learning programs.
By Kimberly McCloy Hey y’all! Here’s one …SAAAA -VVY! Just saying it out loud should make you SMILE (it does for me)! That word has so many different meanings for me now. My name is Kimberly McCloy, and I am the Equine Director at HOPE Landing, Inc. in El Dorado, Arkansas. I am blessed…
Immediately following the 2015 Summit, a Foundation fundraising event took place at the private home of Linda and Pat Parelli. As the Summit rolled to a close, two women held tickets to spend three days “In the Kitchen with Linda.” Cheryl Almasy, a Parelli student since 2000 travelled from Pennsylvania to attend, and she was joined by Lorraine Kaliher, a long time Parelli student and Parelli Foundation supporter, arriving from Georgia. The reality of taking part in this amazing opportunity caught up with Lorraine on the drive to Linda and Pat’s house as it would with most Parelli students:
The Parelli Foundation “Rehoming 4 Life” workshop in Petaluma, California, laid the groundwork for life saving cooperation between horse rescue operations, a veterinarian, and ranches to save horses threatened by the Valley Fires in California. Through amazing teamwork, the animal hospital, rescues, and volunteers together helped rescue, treat, and care for over 300 animals.
This is an opportunity to orchestrate your own learning; experience being taught by various Licensed Parelli Professionals; reconnect with old friends and make new ones; and raise money to change the world for horses and humans. Come with or without your horse and experience a “Parelli Rally”!
Erin’s interest in the therapeutic riding side of the Foundation led her to become PATH (Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship)-certified and teach at the local therapeutic riding center. By doing this, she also touches two other areas supported by the Foundation: horse welfare and youth.
Ernie is one of those horses that people are drawn to; standing 17 hh, he is described as calm, sweet and loveable – a true “gentle giant.” Having spent the early part of his life becoming well-trained in the hunter jumper ring, Ernie immediately draws people in, which is exactly what is needed for his role as a therapy horse, but Ernie needed help.
When Cheryl Flanagan started rescuing racehorses who were not winning on the Florida tracks, little did she know how many puzzle pieces would eventually make up the picture years later in Georgia. On any given day, Save the Horses in Cumming, Georgia, is home to over 100 rescued equines. Cheryl has a strong belief in matching horses and humans so that as many horses as possible find happy forever homes.
In early 2015, the Parelli Foundation launched a pilot project for its “Future of Horsemanship.” The program’s three phases focus on recognizing and supporting talented and motivated young people, to help them achieve their dreams with horses and, in the process, create cornerstones for the vision of making the world a better place for horses and humans.
The Special K Ranch is a residential ranch in Montana for adults with disabilities and, among its many activities, is an equine program. Special K was fortunate to have a PNH developed horse, Jake, donated to the program. The staff was so impressed with Jake that the finance manager of the ranch, Sharon Flemetis, contacted the Parelli Foundation to find out how they could “get all of their horses to behave like Jake.”
5 Star Master Instructor Dave Ellis has been with Pat Parelli since 1985. He has been involved with horses since grammar school and the late fifties. He was raised on an oil lease in the western side of the great San Joaquin Valley of California. Being far removed from any town, horses became his primary toys. As a boy, he found himself helping the neighbors with problem horses, and was soon teaching kids from town how to ride.
The beginning of Lisa’s story is common to so many women. A horse-loving girl who owned and rode her own horse regularly in her youth, she disconnected from horses for a time, as career and family became her focus. Years later, Lisa’s loving husband encouraged her to reignite her passion for horses by giving her “a few lessons” as a gift. But here is exactly where Lisa’s similarity to other horse owners abruptly ends.