Search This Blog

Follow by Email

Friday, April 22, 2011


Today's rant brought to you by all the Parelli Kool-Aid drinking people and the problem horses they create.

Pat Parelli is a snake oil salesman.

There I said it. It is my constitutional right to have this opinion, so get your knickers all twisted if you want, but it is.

I can't STAND Parellied horses. The ones belonging to the Kool-Aid drinkers are rude, pushy and spoiled to the point of being somewhat dangerous. I have worked with a few horses that have been Parrelied, one horse after 6 months was finally a somewhat normal horse that behaves, surprisingly, like a HORSE. Not like an over sized dog. When I started with her, she would literally knock you the hell off the mounting block every time you went to get on. She would frisk you for cookies and always had her face all up in your business. I am NOT a scratching post and made that very clear to her. She would also turn and nuzzle and chew on your foot while you were mounted, I couldn't figure out why until I saw one of the other folks doing it and praising their horse. It is not a sign of affection, and it turns into biting. She got caught, groomed, saddled and ridden, and if she was a VERY good girl, she MIGHT get a treat, one, when she is minding her own business. Now she is back in a Parelli only training program. Sigh.

There are a couple of other horses I know that are products of the Parelli snake-oil sales. The first we will call the Fuzzy Little Jerk. I have had this horse come at me with his little ears back and his evil little eyes narrowed more times than I care to count. Thankfully, I moved my mare to a different pasture. I was told to shake my finger at him and shoo him away. Yeah, right. He just looked at me and flattened his ears MORE. Someone overheard the owner telling a girl that was riding him not to try to make him so a particular exercise, he didn't look like he felt like doing it that day. Excuse me? Last time I checked, the horse doesn't really get an opinion on that unless he is sick or in pain. Another one shall be known as the Big Pushy Moose. This horse has NO ground manners. He won't pick up a foot for his owner without a struggle. We have watched her tug and beg and he just stands there. Myself and the other non-Kool-Aid-Drinking boarder could walk over, grab his chestnut, twist slightly, and volia, hoof lifted. Hmm. He will run you the hell over, he will swing his big ol' head around and knock you down, he will walk all over you and push you around. He is ALWAYS looking for cookies or candy in your pockets. No sense of personal space or respect for the handler.

NONE of the Parelli-sites' horses I have ever run across is a balanced, well behaved animal. They all seem to have issues with space and respect. Most of the "training" techniques make no sense nor do they seem to have practical application toward actually RIDING your horse. How standing for an hour and draping a bit of string attached to a $60 orange stick while holding onto the magical $80 rope halter does something for a horse I will never know. (I have witnessed this.) I am all for using their language to communicate with them when applicable, but for actual RIDING, the snake oil just doesn't seem to work.

I don't get it. I just don't...


  1. Last year at Equine Affaire I had brought my Saddlebred gelding as our breed's petting horse for the day. At about noon he started getting restless so I took him for a walk to a slightly remote covered arena, where I walked him around for a bit to let him stretch his legs in a quieter environment than the other arenas. While I was in there I watched some people who were lunging this very distinctively marked little QH gelding, who I took special note of because his markings were so pretty. At 1:30 when I went to grab a bite for lunch they were still lunging him.

    At 2:00 the Parelli insanity started, and since our booth was just down the row from the demo arena, I decided to go watch to see what it was all about. In walked that little QH gelding, who was then held up as a shining example of Parelli training.

    I wanted to vomit, especially because of how all those people were hanging on Parelli's every word. I wonder how many have gotten seriously injured/killed?

  2. If I was younger I would take advantage of the situation. When I was looking for a cheap horse for a project I found approx 1M+ horses that had been round penned to death and never ridden. The owners had never owned a horse, they bought a horse and a video and got a slap on the back from a salesman who told them they would LOVE it. A few years later the horse and the people HATE each other. Some of these horses do have decent ground manners, they lunge to voice command and despite their hatred, they are not afraid of people. Excellent projects for someone who wants to wake them up to the reality of having a job and being ridden. I don't bounce well anymore so I opted for an OTTB who had been starved and ridden with WAY too much equipment. At least I knew she knew about having a job.

  3. What do we think of NH (be in PNH or some other brand of ":training") "trained" horses? Well, back when we had a full time hoof care practice, when a prospective client would call NH "trainers" always- ALWAYS- with out fail- would gush about how amazing the "training" is and how wonderful their horses behaved. Guess what--- we did not take them on as clients. (I still don't for the few that I continue to trim.)

  4. I think that letting a horse walk all over you and spoil it is a form of abuse. It significantly lessens that horse's chance of finding a good home if you ever have to get rid of it.

    A lot of these Parelli'd horses end up on double deckers...

  5. I agree Jennifer with this most of all. When people tell me they are thinking about buying a horse I tell them they have a responsibility to make that horse worth more than it was the day they bought it. We are such a throw away society that this simple statement turns people off running out to buy a horse.

  6. The only time I've seen "NH" or Parelli stuff work well is when it's a small part of a training program. But then, these few times I've witnessed it, the people also didn't feel the need to buy the carrot stick and $$ rope, either, so they probably had a smidgen more common sense than the average NH fan.

  7. Unfortunately there are a lot of beginer owners out there that have no idea what they are doing as they follow the various NH programs....I personally use a lot of NH techniques very succesfully as a young/problem horse specialist. When you described twisting the chestnut to pick it up, you described exactly what the parelli's recommend. It's all based off of classical horsemanship techniques, going back to the traditional vaquero tradition and Xenophon himself. If you met my "parellied" horse you would find a well mannered horse that ties quietly, self loads on a trailer, stands politely to be mounted, and is schooling 2nd level dressage (and he's an OTTB).
    Unfortunately, the "home study programs" get interpretted very, very (very, very, very...) badly by backyard, first time horse owners who think they can do all their own training without a professional.
    My personal opinion on the parelli's is that they have great techniques, in general, and their information (especially the older stuff) is priceless, and can actually be applied to riding - i.e. teach your horse to move better off pressure from the ground, and he will move off your leg better in the saddle.....however, they found a jackpot in middle age scared women getting back into riding after years, and they have some marketing geniuses behind them, and are making a fortune selling kool-aid to them.

  8. I tried PNH once. I even bought the carrot stick/string and the rope. I have to say I "DO" love the rope. The carrot stick thingy they can keep. It gets wound around upon itself all the time. I think I will just take the string off.

    I have a friend who purchased a 4 year old thoroughbred/friesian for dressage as a re-rider. Untrained and a bad choice to begin with, but anyway, she got a trainer who was too harsh, but the trainer was riding the horse for about 6 months (w/t/c).

    She then took the horse to the PNH barn with a PNH trainer. That trainer had the horse in training for 1 year and 6 months and rode the horse a total of........ONE TIME! The horse was already rideable? WHAT? It ended with her selling the horse for $1 and buying another more suitable horse to ride.

    PNH is nothing more than preying on scared, timid, middle aged re-riders and sucking all the money out them. It ticks me off soooooo much!!!!!

  9. Inexperienced horse owners have been looking for magical quick fixes for CENTURIES. I think Americans are especially susceptible....

    Americans are also susceptible to extreme DIY tendencies, when they should leave some things to professionals. OR, they're completely unquestioning disciples. The NH clinicians are smart enough to get $$ both ways, between the DVDs and the live events.

  10. (I'm an American, and finally in my 4th decade fully accepted that usefulness usually lies somewhere in between. Who Knew?!?!)

  11. I agree a lot with what Kelly said. Parelli is great in the right hands. When I started Parelli, I was working on my own from the DVD's. I had a clue that what I was doing was not coming out with the same results as the people in the demonstrations. My mare continued to shoulder and shove me to get out of working.

    I was smart enough to realize that my body language was not doing what the Parelli program suggested (tensly holding a lunge whip UP when I thought it was down, etc.).

    Also, I thing way too many people get too caught up in the ground work. Watch for the signs and know when you are done. I use the round pen to get her brain settled down, focus on me and RESPECT for me, and then I GET ON.

    Whatever program you choose to use, do not do it alone. Get someone to watch you and talk about it. Rethink what you want to accomplish and quit when you get it. And remember, Parelli is a good teacher for people - and he learned from techniques used for centuries before him. : )

  12. Someone really hit the nail on the head when she mentioned the timid middle aged women discovering or rediscovering horses (re:suckers). There is no subsitute for time and experience, and round pens aren't a cure all.
    Funny, the NH horses I've been around have actually been quite fearful and lacked confidence, tho' they would run over you if started and surely did invade your space.
    It's an industry and a gimmicky one at that plus it takes advantage of less than knowlegible people, but it's made some trainers very rich!

  13. I am so glad somebody else dislikes Parelli as much as I do. Unforunately most of the big clinics like that with all the hypp use horses that are lounged to death first or a "colt" that happens to be older than dirt. Richard Shrake is another one. He actually regularly sends horses he can't handle to a trainer I know and then sends them back to the owners claiming he trained them, so there's how their magical techniques work. I just bought a OTTB that was retrained using the Parelli technique. He is 11 and I do not lounge broke horses before I get on them. I found out fast that she lounged him into the ground because he throws terrible fits (threw himself down) if he doesn't feel like doing something. He is spoiled and she was so busy worrying about how he felt that she never taught him to be a horse. Although somebody got mad and worked him over pretty good amazing how they are all touchy feely until they lose their tempers. I have had him three months now and he hasn't had a tantrum in two months but I won't call him a safe horse yet.

  14. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! I so aggree about PNH.

    Sorry Kelly & Karen but I have had the exact opposite experience with a local very highly regarded & highly trained PNH trainer, & have run into roughly a dozen others who had almost the exact same bad experience with her as I did. Actually I & my gelding had 2 bad experiences with her, once when he was 2.5yrs old & again 6months later. The first experience just left us very frustrated, the second experience was BAD!

    I had explained to this trainer both times that we did not practice PNH on a regular basis & were just checking it out to see if it was something we would enjoy. The 2nd time we had slowly & happily moved up through the games over roughly 2hrs & had moved on to side-passing along the rail when after a few successful passes a lawn chair blew past & fried my geldings poor young little brain, after making a few unsuccessful attempts at side-passing again we stopped & went back to some of the earlier easier work to end the day on a successful happy note. The trainer asked to see him side-pass & I explained that he had done it & what had happened & that I thought he was done, she insisted so I gave it a try but he was not having it. So she decided to use my gelding as an example to the rest of the group & when he did not do it managed over the next 15min to get him so upset that she had him rearing, striking, & lunging at her to try to get away from the whip that was leaving marks all up & down his sides, back, & butt. Finally I worked up the courage to say NO ENOUGH & took him away. In 15min she did a lot of damage to a horse I have had since the day he was born, he has never before or since exhibited any of these behaviors’ that she brought out in him while trying to use him as an example of her greatness.

  15. It took me almost 2 months to get him over the new fear of whips & lunging happily & freely again. He is 6 this year & he loves people & is the 1st to walk up to you in the pasture, however he has manners. He now lunges beautifully on voice commands both extending & collecting all of his gaits on verbal command. He is safe enough for raw beginners to ride in an arena & even slows down & steps under a newbie rider when he feels them losing their balance. For the experienced rider he is a much more fun and challenging ride. ;D We trail ride on a regular basis practicing dressage moves while moving along through the trees, he has a beautiful easy slow western jog, a 6” over stride under-saddle at the walk, is not afraid of a bullwhip, flag, or gunshot nearby let alone a regular lunge whip. He loves to walk a tettor-totter, & climb the box thingy, and clomps through a debris field without a 2nd thought. We continually work on lightness off his aids, & working collected, & improve bit by tiny bit all of the time. This year we are starting reining & hope to be able to ride in the pond and through the creek without any issues. The trainer I found after our last PNH experience is an amazing lady who uses bits and pieces of all kinds of different styles but is mostly classical dressage. She never pushes my gelding to the point of fighting because in a physical battle horses will always win & if you are fighting each other mentally you are not working together & can’t learn. The best part is she pushes us to take lessons & go to clinics given by other trainers as she wants us to see another point of view & become more rounded. The one thing we will not however do, is ever try PNH again, the only thing I learned from them is how to say NO & ENOUGH & take my horse away even if it is a big name trainer in front of a huge group of people when I feel what is happening is wrong. I will always feel ashamed that I let the PNH trainer do what she did to my gelding without stopping it sooner & I will NEVER allow it to happen again.

    So if PNH works for you fine, great, I am happy for you; but personally I don’t care for it & have not found one of their horses I wanted to ride or be around, & feel anyone who thinks there is only one way (theirs) to do something is just wrong.

  16. THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!! I've come to find that all "training methods" or "systems" are a load of crap. Whatever happened to just talking to your horse and listening back?! If these people were such 'experts' they would realize that not every horse learns the same, and oh wait, they are horses, not people or dogs.

  17. I recently bought a very sweet horse. But as soon as we started training her we noticed immediate issues. She was pushy, would stand in your space, try n bite your ankles when riding, would turn in circles when you tried to mount, and so much more. So we took her to a pro. He worked with her for 5 minutes turned to me and said "Someone trained her with the Parelli Method" We are now having to spend over $400 to have her un-parellied.

  18. I agree with however said Parelli is good in the right hands with some common sense mixed in.

    I do use some parelli techniques with my pony. (ducks under tables to hide from oncoming criticism)I am sure if you meet her you would see that she is a relaxed and quiet pony club pony, who has lovely ground manners (loads with ease, you can tack her up, do her feet or even worm her at liberty in a large paddock.) she backs, yields hind quarters and forequarters, lowers head on command, follows you everywhere and seems to genuinely enjoy company. She even *waits* for permission before she eats her meal at night time! (I give her bucket of feed, I say staaaand, I walk away, I come back, I say, Gooood girl! Okay! Then she eats.)Shes a lovely riding horse, great for me as I take her trail riding (shes good alone or in company) a lovely pony club horse (even leading drill rides) a fun jumper (always pops over, no matter how bad you muck the striding up, something I'm notorious at doing!) and a budding dressage pony (awesome movement, rounds up and accepts bit nicely. We are working on impulsion and carrying self.)

    She has never bite or kicked anyone in her life, and has only pinned her ears once (the day I first brought her. Her ears when back as I picked up a hoof, and she caught it bad. Shes never pulled a bad face at me since.)She never does invade your space and I cannot dream of ever allowing her to nibble my toes when we ride. Shes a genuine sweet well rounded horse.

    I have met bad parellied horses. But heres the kicker...

    The parelli program has a HUGE focus on moving the horse out of your space and keeping your bubble intact so unless someone totally mucked up the parelli training I cannot fathom how you would end up with a pushy horse. I'd be less surprised if you ended up with the opposite, a horse that REFUSED to enter your bubble. (thats why I exercise caution when I do the move over exercises with my mare. I don't want her too distant!)

    With regards to the pick up the hooves, thing, twisting a chestnut, first very gently then progressing getting more and more vigorous in your twisting IS the recommended parelli method of picked up a horses hooves, so if the horse was parelli trained, that would probably be why that method worked!

    With the turning and nipping thing, I have never seen any part of the parelli program which encouraged the horse to nibble your toes, but part of the parelli thing is teaching the *one rein stop* so perhaps the rider was asking the horse to do a one rein stop and the horse was resisting and disobeying so nipped her? I don't know.

    I guess in the end everyone uses what works for them. I use some parelli with my mare (mixed in with other training etc)but perhaps someone else works better for your horse? Then go for it! if it doesn't work Try some thing else! Mix and match, use some common sense, and it'll work out.