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Opinions on Natural Horsemanship Gurus.
by Caly (goneriding24_7)
at March 12th, 2008 (09:39 pm)

Ok, I've always hated Parelli because he's a money squandering jerk, but I've recently given in and been looking everywhere for more tools to use in training my horses. I have read his book and am doing his level 1 program. I've learned a lot, but I don't suck up every little thing he does, and I'm certainly not following his program like I should (Because I HAVE to ride my horses).

I was just wondering what people's opinions were on Natural Horsemanship people. Do you think they're just hacks, or are you in my boat where you think they're just trying to get rich? I suppose you could also think they're the best thing ever. I'd like to get a discussion going on this with other barrel racers, the equestrian community is just to big for this, I'd rather keep it small for now, gather some thoughts, and maybe later I'll ask this same question there.

I'm all for being gentle and using positive reinforcement, and even considering the horse's prey nature in the training, but watching some of my Level 1 stuff I see things I really don't like. I've always been the take what I like from every trainer and combine it and create my own philosophy kind of person anyway, so this isn't surprising for me. Never the less, it pains me how expensive his crap is. Clinton Anderson is no better. I like Monty Roberts a bit better, as I have more respect for him, he doesn't seem to be making this a cash cow quite as much, neither does Stacy Westfall, and I think she's bloody amazing.

Comments, Discussion please! I'd love to know what you all think!


Posted by: cassidyscowgirl (cassidyscowgirl)
Posted at: March 13th, 2008 02:21 am (UTC)

Natural horsemanship...okay I'll weight in here. I think some of them get amazing things out of their horses. Stacy Westfall, who I've just heard of recently, seems like a cool girl and Clinton Anderson has some common sense stuff. The Parelli's seem like all they want to produce is a 1000 pound circus dog and if that's what you want to do that's great but personally I would rather have a horse that I can ride and respects me. I know next to nothing about Parelli, just what I've gleaned from the internet, his site, and his marketing campaign. I can make a rope halter, do I expect someone to pay me $50 bucks for it? No, because that's ridiculous.

What bothers me the most about these people is they act like, "I was the first to figure all this out all on my own." *puffs out chest* Um, no you didn't. Go look up Ray Hunt or Tom Dorrance. These guys were the originators of what people call Natural Horsemanship - they were around way before John Lyons. Their philosophy is full of low stress training and common sense. Let me reiterate _common sense_

I don't need to be able to bounce a ball on my horse or ride around with a tarp crackling behind me, most folks don't either. What we do want is a good relationship with our horses. We want horses that whoa when we ask them and go when we ask the and do it with a willing attitude. To me, that's just good old fashioned common sense horsemanship. That's what Tom Dorrance teaches as does Ray Hunt. Another guy that I have a lot of respect for is Bob Loomis. He's a reining horse trainer and has a great book called "The Art of Reining." The first few chapters really apply to training barrel horses as well as reining horses and is chock full of just good ways to ride and train a horse.

So, to sum up this insane long and rambling post I really don't buy into the natural horsemanship. I go more for a common sense approach to riding and training. I also am like you. Take the things that work and use them. If Parelli has some things that are helping you with Thunder then by all means, use them! I've used some dressage techniques in the past to help me sit at a trot and I've only ever ridden western.

Great question!

Posted by: Caly (goneriding24_7)
Posted at: March 13th, 2008 02:39 am (UTC)
Wrong brings joy to others

Thats one reason I like Monty Roberts more than the others, he grew up KNOWING Tom Dorrance and mentions him explicitly a lot. I like that about him. Parelli does mention other trainers even Xenophon (dating back to B.C. times but seemed to get the "Not beating the horse" idea) but he does it so subtly as if to hide it from most of the people that follow his ways.

I've wanted that Art of Reining book but I've noticed its outrageously expensive because it appears not to be in print anymore. However, I intend on getting a copy down the road, when I'm employed.

I like to play the games with balls and tarps and stuff, just because to me it strengthens the trust between the horse and I and I just plain out have fun doing it, but I started doing this when I was in the Mounted Division to desensitize the horses, long before I really paid any attention to Parelli.

I guess as a bigtime horse enthusiast and animal behavior lover looking into all these training options really interests me. The thing is, after I picked up parelli's level 1 program I sort of got sucked in, and then I realized that he had a REALLY good marketing scheme and it even runs through his DVD's. I started wanting to buy HIS stuff because it was "better" and thats when I finally realized that I was getting myself in trouble. I have one of Parelli's halters, but I got it so I could teach myself how to make my own with the knots in the same places (as I like the style of his) not buy one for each horse!

As I was watching the level 1 stuff the other day Linda was trying to get this horses attention and she was just YANKING on the halter like crazy, and I could see how it would get its attention, but it wasn't like it was fixing it, she could get him to stand and such but it just, arg, I don't know!

They also keep saying that a horse when it panics wants to go forward (which I agree with) but they think that backing the horse will help it become less panicky. I know that Titan is quite capable of backing up and panicking at the same time, so I'm not so sure I buy into this philosophy either.

Thank you for responding though, I really need a chance to talk this out and get myself set back up so I don't join Parelli's stupid Savvy Club or something of the like.

Posted by: cassidyscowgirl (cassidyscowgirl)
Posted at: March 13th, 2008 03:17 am (UTC)

Oh, god please don't join the club! You'll go to sleep in a pod and wake up spouting the gospel of Parelli! :)

And um, a horse can panic in any direction. That would be why when they are tied and get scared they pull "back" and try to run away instead of running forward.

The yanking really gets me. I've seen Parelli do it and I've seen Clinton Anderson do it. (Damn you RFDTV). Yea, you need to snatch the crap out of them sometimes to get their attention, but the jerkjerkjerkjerkjerkjerk thing, that's why you got the rope halter dummy one good short jerk will get their attention.

Lastly , if you can afford the Art of Reining I highly recommend it. Loomis has a great low resistance style and a philosophy that I totally agree with. I grew up around a really good reining horse trainer and the two of said pretty much the same thing. It's hardback...you know you want it. Get a Western Horseman magazine, they published it back in the day you might can get a copy there. Oh, and WH also published the Ed and Martha Wright barrel racing book. That's really good too, check it out.

Posted by: .The Lord made me hard to handle. (xxmorningstar)
Posted at: March 14th, 2008 03:42 am (UTC)

I personally think Parelli's just running a glorified dog and pony show. I'm sorry, I think it's absolutely insane to climb on your horse with not even a halter on him...that's like getting into car with no steering wheel or brakes. Sure, I trust my horse...but not that much.

If you get bored, look up Pat Wyse (www.horsewyse.com). I've been riding with him for about 10 years and he does a lot with reining horses and cutting horses, but he also does community clinics on basic horse-handling for all levels of riders. He's helped me loads with my barrel horses...one with turns and leads and the other with her charging/running away/general goofyness. His techniques aren't really rocket science, but the simplicity of them seems to be what makes them work so well. Also, there's a book by a guy called Monte Foreman (who mentored Pat) called "Horse Training Science" that has a lot of good insight. It goes from the ground up and covers all aspects from the effectiveness of certain types of bits to trailer loading and leads, turns, and stopping. I won't lie, it's kind of like my bible. But I know dressage riders, jumpers, and gaited horse people who ride with the Horse Wyse method as well as reiners and cutters. I even know a couple that started their gaited horses with Parelli and switched to Pat's method...no lie, lol.

And just a side note, a cousin of mine rode colts for Monty Roberts in his symposiums and says that they were the craziest, scariest horses he'd ever gotten on in his life (this coming from a bronc/bull rider), and that Monty doesn't do anything but jerk and whip and beat on them when he's not in the ring doing a "show."

But hey...whatever works for them and their horses, or for anybody and their horse. I take things from all kinds of trainers. Pat Wyse is my mentor, but guys like Martin Black or Ray Hunt have really good ideas as well. I say, if you can take one thing from a trainer that you can apply and that works for you, no matter how ridiculous everything else they say is, then that's alright.

Posted by: Caly (goneriding24_7)
Posted at: March 14th, 2008 04:10 am (UTC)

Thanks for your input, I'll look at the horse wyse stuff.

And I've never heard that about Monty Roberts, but again, thanks for letting me know.

I agree with you on your last sentence there, I've done Monty Roberts join-up ground stuff and that worked for me as far as getting some trust,but I haven't done any more of his training methods, Parelli has some stuff that is good logical training, but other things make me think he's crazy, like watching them jerk on halters like crazy. He's great at glorifying what he does and making people pay outrageous prices, thats what irritates me a LOT.

I guess it mostly bothers me how MUCH of a profit these people are making off of their methods and how so many of their protoges get hurt because they aren't ready to do stuff they see Parelli doing. A person down the road from me just put her horse on the 20' line and got DRAGGED down the gravel road because she didn't LET GO. This is a woman that had been to a 7 week Parelli class at their ranch and was trying to teach me how to ride. ...Ummm...HELLO?

I also find it interesting that almost everyone that avidly follows Parelli just trail rides. Does it take the competitive spirit out of you or make you think horses are too good for the competition? All I know is if I stopped showing Thunder he'd hate me!

Again, thanks for your input, sorry you got a bit of a ramble going there!

Posted by: M. Grantaire (mariegrantaire)
Posted at: December 8th, 2008 09:30 pm (UTC)

I think that the idea of Natural Horsemanship is definitely a good base.

Groundwork has done leaps and bounds for my Morgan, who has been a runaway since the day I got him. It was especially useful my first year of college - when he went from having 100 acres to run on to being cooped up in a stall, and I didn't have the time or space to take him on long, loping rides (the college didn't even have a real arena!), round penning helped us both. That's about the only experience I have with it though, besides idly watching a few trainers on TV.

The problem I have with alot of the Natural Horseman ship trainers (besides the fact that they're sellouts) is that if you watch their show, it's the same horse, EVERY TIME! I think it's Clinton Anderson that never has a new horse.

I've also grown up doing things the "cowboy way". I always had access to that wise old horseman or horsewoman's advice, and I took it to heart. I never took a lesson in my life until I got to college, and I learned through experience, not $1,000 clinics. Sometimes I think that's the best way.

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