Some very good questions… Part 2
We may have taken a break for a couple days, but we’re back to responding to reader comments! Just because you guys are so smart and raised such interesting points. (Or maybe because we’re both stupidly busy and having a hard time coming up with anything original right now. One of the two!) At the end of Part 1 we posted a comment from Monica that had intiated a bit of discussion in the comments of this post.
“They’re using Pat Parelli’s videos as examples of good resources? Really?
Not I have nothing against natural horsemanship, I do have something against endorsing people who say fancy colored super speshul super expensive sticks are the answer to all our problems.
Ahhhh, Parellisites… so very much to talk about here!
Pat Parelli strikes us as an ok horseman with a completely ridiculous moustache and excellent marketing/sales skills.
We’ve done a (very) little bit of “Natural Horsemanship”, mostly to find out what everyone was
talking ranting about. (It still seems amazing how strong people’s opinions are about the subject! Borderline cult-like…) The reason we haven’t done a lot of NH is that we discovered it really isn’t anything new or revolutionary. It’s all about paying attention to the individual horse and it’s body language, and using your body language to establish yourself as the leader in the relationship. Those are pretty basic horse handling/training skills that good riders pick up with experience (or are taught by good instructors).
What makes Parelli and a few of the other NH “trainers” different is that they’ve dressed it up and turned it into their own patented system. Instead of calling a spade a spade and saying that you’re teaching a horse to accept human touch or lead correctly, to respect your space or move away from pressure; you play the “Friendly Game” or the “Porcupine Game” or some other ridiculously named exercise. It’s still basically the same techniques “classical” trainers use, just with trademarked names.
“Realize that much of what you already do is the Friendly Game.”
– From Parelli’s own website.
By breaking down basic horse handling techniques into fun “games”, Parelli makes it both more accessible and palatable to newbie horse owners and riders. Someone who still dreams that their horsie is going to be their bestest friend and doesn’t ever want to hurt it’s feelings is going to be a lot happier playing the “Driving Game” with it than teaching it to move out of her way and respect her space – for all that it’s the exact same thing.
“It seems a lot of the natural horsemanship people want us to buy their super expensive equipment.”
“Well, of course, that’s how they make money. Those big trainers are nothing more than marketing machines these days.”
Oh yeah, Parelli and many others have figured out a way to make lots and lots of moolah by teaching basic skills THEIR way. You don’t need all the special sticks, halters and clinics to do this stuff, but they sure need to sell them to keep their bank accounts growing! We’re not sure what’s more disturbing, how much they’re making or how many people view the NH stuff as an endpoint – almost a discipline unto itself.
Did you know that they actually sell a device called a “Carrot Stick”? Yup, that’s right. For the low, low price of $47.93 (or $35.95 for members!) you can own
Oops, sorry, that’s not it. For almost $50, you can be the proud owner of the following training tool
It’s just basic, BASIC training dumbed down so beginners can do it. And that’s why we have no problem with CSRDT listing it as one of many resources that they recommend to people before actually purchasing a horse. ‘Cause we’d rather people learn those skills from Parelli than not learn them at all!
“I DO have something against Parelli…I’ve seen videos of Linda Parelli trying to ‘ride’.”
Can’t really argue with that comment – skip ahead to the 6 minute mark to see why! My horse would kill me if my lower leg swung that much or if my hands were that stiff.
“Ohhh SR…between Craig Stevens and Parelli, you may have open a big can of worms. Those are two very controversial people!”
Looks like there’s going to have to be a Part 3!