Sunday, December 21, 2014

Key to Success No. 7 SUPPORT

Right at the beginning of his Natural Horsemanship book, Pat Parelli introduces his Level 1 theory by outlining the six keys to success.  They are:  Attitude, Knowledge, Tools, Techniques, Time and Imagination. Since the original publication of the book years ago, a seventh key has been added:  Support
In my earlier posts, we focused on the first six keys:  AttitudeKnowledgeToolsTechniquesTime and Imagination.  In this post, I will introduce the last key to success, SUPPORT.  This one is truly one of the most important one of all!

Key 7: SUPPORT


As in any long term project that requires motivation, commitment, thoughtful planning and perspiration, the support of like-minded people who are on a similar journey becomes critical in allowing horsemanship students to continue advancing, keep on track, and as needed, to find encouragement and inspiration.

When I started on my natural horsemanship journey in 1999, it was definitely the path less traveled. In fact, only a very small handful of people in my part of the world had heard of this new approach to horses and for the most part, we were ridiculed, shunned and basically considered too different to be part of the ‘in’ crowd. It was a lonely journey and I found myself connecting to other like-minded students mostly through various Internet groups and communities around the world. With no instructors nearby and no access to the technology resources we have today, it was a journey of trial and error and it was often very frustrating. It took grit to stay on track and keep going despite the criticism, the failures and the obstacles. This was a time when showing up at an English barn with a rope halter was a big No-No, and no one really understood why we ever wanted to play with a horse on the ground.

Thankfully, things have evolved in the last ten years and there is a growing interest for natural horsemanship methods and the importance of building a sound partnership with the horse. Natural horsemanship students are still a minority, but we are a growing minority, and with an increasing number of prominent members who are succeeding in competitive circles, the likelihood of being dismissed as ‘only good for people who don’t ride’ is subsiding.

Athletes such as Canadian Lauren Barwick, 4-Star Parelli Senior Instructor and Paralympian, who has been to 3 Paralympic Games, 4 World Championships and a great number of other international competitions; Lauren most recently claimed Silver and Bronze at WEG in Normandy and gives inspiring demonstrations with her dressage horses all over the world.

Click here for a short video of Lauren demonstrating horsemanship savvy with her Paralympic mare Off to Paris.

Luis Lucio is head of the Spanish dressage team and has recently been appointed to the FEI. He has been a long time friend of Linda and Pat Parelli and integrates natural horsemanship methods into his training program; in fact, Luis lists Parelli Natural Horsemanship right at the top of his home page. Click below to watch a video of Luis Lucio riding Grand Prix movements with nothing on his horse’s head.


Luca Maria Moneta is an international show jumper from Italy and a long time student of the Parelli approach who is making his mark worldwide as a successful competitor. Luca has been dubbed the ‘carrot man’ after he explained in an interview how he won a puissance class at the European Championships by rewarding his horse’s try with a carrot after each successful jump.


In the Western world, one of Pat Parelli’s top students, Elli Pospsichil, just finished in the Top 15 at NCHA Cutting World Finals in Fort Worth, Texas.



So what does this have to do with support? Well, these very inspirational people all have something in common: they did not achieve their results alone. They have sought and enlisted a lot of support and when they need help to resolve an issue or find a better way, they don’t hesitate to go to someone who is more masterful than they are to get help. Linda Parelli regularly teaches Luis and Luca, Elli studies full-time with Pat Parelli and Lauren has spent many days and hours with the Parelli’s to hone her skills and figure out her complex horses. They think up, not sideways, in everything they do, including when the time comes to find a mentor.

Nowadays, there is no reason to feel alone in your backyard or at your barn trying to learn. There are Licensed Parelli Professionals available worldwide who have dedicated their lives to helping students reach their goals; most of them offer many different teaching formats, in person or through distance coaching. They can help point you in the right direction, find the resources you need, get unstuck and support you through your journey.

In addition, the Parelli Program is underpinned by a robust subscription based training support system. If you want to achieve measurable and sustained improvement in your horsemanship skills, consider a Parelli Membership Plan a pre-requisite to that progress. The Parelli members club is gathering a vast community of horse lovers and giving them access to a huge Learning Library available on line to support students on their pathway.

Finally, there are play groups and natural horsemanship communities popping up everywhere, even in far away places like Africa and Indonesia. If you reach out, you may find there several more like-minded horsemanship students near you just waiting to find a buddy and have play dates! Or start you own support group, organize a few simple activities and you might be surprised who shows up! We even have communities of students who are spread out in different countries and meet through Skype and video to challenge and support each other. A great example of key no. 6, Imagination, at work.

What are you going to do in 2015 to find or build your support network and reach for your horsemanship goals?

Wishing everyone a very Happy Holiday Season and lots of great horse days in 2015! As always, keep it natural!

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For more info on Parelli training, visit www.vifargent.com

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