Dave Ellis Running BarrelsBy Erin Fowle

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.

It wasn’t until 1985, while starting colts, and “fixing” problem horses, that he met Pat Parelli at Bishop Mule Days. When asked how Pat taught his horses how to execute lead changes every two strides, Pat replied, “This is not training, and that this his horse (already knew) how to change leads.” When Dave asked about a magnificent slide stop Pat and his horse executed, Pat stated, “I just quit riding.” Certain that Pat was “holding out” on trade secrets, Dave was dared by Pat to come to a clinic to see for himself the worth of Natural Horsemanship. Pat even said that if Dave still didn’t believe him by noon at the clinic, he’d refund Dave’s money and fill his truck with gas for the trip home!

Needless to say, by noon, Dave knew there was something to this technique. As the “runaway” demo, Dave found his horse was walking on a loose rein after only two laps; he was hooked! Pat and he hit it off, and at the next clinic in Clements, California, Pat heard Dave play the guitar. There, the two shook hands on a 20 year deal in which Dave would teach Pat guitar, and Pat would teach Dave horsemanship. A dollar never changed hands and Dave even brought the added benefit of a database management and tracking system, an on-line mailing system, and the very first Parelli.com web page. They both like to have great fun telling others that, “The other got the BEST DEAL!”

In 1995, before Instructor Star Ratings, Dave earned his approved instructor status, and by 1997, he was Course Instructor. Since that time, Pat’s program has kept Dave working nearly every weekend throughout the United States. Dave has also taught Parelli Natural Horsemanship clinics in Sweden, France, Australia, and Canada. At the Parelli Campus in Pagosa Springs, Colorado, Pat asked Dave to teach one week and two week courses covering Level One, Level Two, and Level Three.  Dave also taught the final 10 week Horsemanship School at Pagosa Springs.  This class was the last one offered prior to the University style format for the Campus.

Pat Parelli advanced Dave to 5 Star Master Instructor in January 2010.  As a 5 Star Master Instructor, Dave periodically spends quality time at the campuses, either in Pagosa Springs, Colorado, or Ocala, Florida, helping students, improving his skills, and just enjoying his friendship with Pat.  As a Five Star Instructor Dave provides to Pat both special corporate skills and horsemanship experiences, including specialty areas in Young Horses, Difficult Horses, Colt Starting, and Cow Clinics.

Dave admits that it’s been great fun and that he wouldn’t have changed a thing. More importantly, David is proud to call Pat Parelli his friend and mentor for nearly 30 years.

Thank you Dave for your continued inspiration and experience!

Has the Parelli Foundation touched your life in a meaningful and inspiring way?  We would like to hear about it. If you have a story to tell, and the Foundation has helped in some way, write it down in 1000 words or less and send it to seth@parellifoundation.org, along with three photos to illustrate your story.  We may use your story at our web site or in other ways.  

  • Karen Daniel

    This was a fun look at the “back story” of Dave Ellis. Thanks so much for sharing this, Erin!