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Training the Parelli horse that rears? (LONG)

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  • Training the Parelli horse that rears? (LONG)

    Yeah.

    Let me start by saying that it is NOT my intention to cause a trainwreck here. Rather, I'm hoping to get some input from other, more experienced h/j gurus who could perhaps advise a young pro in their first year out from under trainers' wings and torn between wanting to be taken seriously in the business (as in, not running away from a challenge), but who also doesn't want to get killed, or end up in the middle of a blame-game either.

    This spring, a potential client approached me about training her feisty 8 y/o ottb with a tying/rearing issue. While my immediate reaction was no thank you, I felt bad after listening to her story. She'd been through several "quick fix" trainers as she put it, with no results and horse more explosive than ever. She asked me my thoughts, training theories, etc., all of which I told her, and she seemed quite receptive. A very up front and honest person, though perhaps not what I'd call "horsey". What she wanted was a calm, reliable horse, essentially self-maintaining, that she could pull out every once in a while to go for a trail ride. It was not a good horse/rider match by any stretch, but after several weeks of back & forth over train, sell, or find something more suitable, she decided this big green guy was her "heart horse" and wanted to keep him.

    Initially I was still skeptical, but after several observations & interactions with the horse, it became clear that the core of the issue was that he knew he could intimidate mom very easily. The few times she'd try to get tough with him, he'd just go bigger and that would bring things to a quick end, and back out he'd go with his buddies. I did a few basic exercises with him on the lunge to get an idea of his attitude and actually came away feeling that he would be quite manageable in a consistent program with me. So at that point I decided (still partially against my better judgement) to take him on. We discussed a plan, and I drew up a timeline, basically just taking him back to square one to start. Instilling a good solid forward, before re-introducing contact (side-reins on the lunge), getting him to yield properly, listen and be attentive to what's being asked of him -- all BEFORE getting on his back. Client again fully understood and seemed receptive.

    Client then decides at the last minute to wait on sending him to me due to financial reasons. Ok, that's fine. She says we'll start in Oct/Nov. Now here we are and stalls are starting to fill up for season. I inquire with her to see if/when she plans to send him so that I may keep a spot for him, to which she tells me that she put him into a Parelli program over the summer, and is absolutely thrilled because of the "immediate disappearance" of his issues. The trainer comes 1x every other week and she works with him herself 3x/wk, and after just a handful of sessions she was able to get on him & take him out at dusk on the trails. All that being said however, she would still like me to come train him 2x/wk.

    Frankly all I see now is a recipe for disaster. "Too many chefs.." and all that, but I also just feel there's too much conflict of interest at this point. I was raised in my trainers' old-school, classical European ways, where things are done slowly & consistently in accordance with the horse's abilities, progressions, and skill sets. Not gizmos, gadgets, and the quickest way to get on its back. Finding creative ways to avoid the problem doesn't mean it's fixed. I want the horse to respect me as the HUMAN half of our animal/person partnership. Not as a fellow horse where it's all about body cues and being on a 1:1 level. My greatest concern overall is that this horse is one day going to get a "body cue" he doesn't like and decide to put his fellow equal back in her place like old times. But that being said, the last place I want to be is involved in the mix when that happens, where I get the finger pointed at me as if I came in and ruined "what was working so well!"

    Am I right in thinking that at this point I should (politely) decline? Are there any last thoughts of guidance or words of caution you would give to the client, or just say nothing? I don't want it to come across as sour grapes. I'm just deeply concerned about both horse and owner, but also want to be smart about limiting my involvement in what my gut tells me is now an even more volatile situation.

    Thoughts? Sorry for the length.

  • #2
    You have expressed enough solid reasons to stay away. Listen to your gut.

    Comment


    • #3
      What gizmos are they using...I thought Parelli was the carrot stick guy...(I really don't know, legit question--I promise).

      Anyway, yes, you can of course decline, I'm just throwing out a different point of view (not disagreeing).

      What kind of riding does she want to do? I obviously don't think of Parelli as hunter jumper (i.e. was she reaching out to you because she ultimately wants to show over fences, or just because you are a good horse trainer and her horse has issues)? If she wants to ride in your discipline, and if you wanted to leave the door open to a future potential client, she could perhaps still haul in and take riding lessons from you a couple times a week. However, if she wants to just have a good trail companion, then it probably isn't worth it if you are building up clientelle. I don't know what your goal is for your clientelle, I guess.

      I think it would be hard to "train" a horse riding only 2 x a week with a beginner riding inbetween anyway. People tell others that you "trained their horse" and I've seen that not go so well for some trainers (just my observation). Plus if there are issues, like you suspect there may be down the road, they WILL be blamed on you, because Mr. OTTB is doing perfect with the Parelli trainer...You may be better off declining completely regardless...maybe I've talked myself back to "no."
      DIY Journey of Remodeling the Farmette: http://weownblackacre.blogspot.com/

      Comment


      • #4
        Reading your post I would not have called her back to begin with. Decline and move on. Not worth getting hurt.
        Live in the sunshine.
        Swim in the sea.
        Drink the wild air.

        Comment


        • #5
          Here's a little tip for you:

          When you say to yourself, "I just know this is a bad idea" or "This is probably not going to end well..." Don't do it!

          Whether it's about a horse, a client, a business deal, listen to your instincts.

          It's bad enough when something goes wrong in a surprising way. It's at least ten times worse when it blows up in your face and you think, "I knew that was going to happen!"

          Trust me on this.

          Comment


          • #6
            I def. would stay away. I have found that a majority of people I know who "practice" Parelli, create rearers. Having been to his clinic, I disagree with most of the stuff in being beneficial, and seeing it creating issues. If she wants a trail horse, then just move on and find other clients.

            Comment

            • Original Poster

              #7
              Yes, Parelli is the carrot stick guy. In addition to that, she's been using some special type of rope halter for ground training, and then a "modified" standing martingale to ride in. She also mentioned a few other things that I'd never heard of before.

              She is not interested in anything more than going for leisurely trail rides a few times a week, but was seeking someone from a "real discipline" as she put it, due to the rearing and her fear level of the horse. She'd somehow found my training resume & show background online, called several of my h/j references (one of which had a reformed rearer), and then came by the farm to speak with me in person. Her expression to me was that she'd been through the quick fix trainers, and then had been turned down immediately by several others when they were told about the rearing.

              Most of my clients that she talked to are/were owners whose horses were sent to me for various issues & re-training, or those for which I am currently bringing along youngsters from the ground, up. That's really my passion -- working with the animals themselves, but I do have 1-2 kids and adults who come for lessons as well (all h/j).

              Anywho, you bring up the 2x/wk thing, which is something I also planned to mention, in addition to the confusion it might cause the horse since I would not be coming in there with consideration of my posture cues & whatnot. He'd need to respect me no matter which way I'm facing. Also, jumbling up what he's used to, I worry, would bring about a relapse that would be viewed as "because of me". I've been in that unfortunate spot once before and vowed never again.

              I think my real problem is I'm battling the sense of responsibility for what I foresee coming in the not-so-distant future. But, you can lead a horse to water.. right?

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Losgelassenheit View Post
                I think my real problem is I'm battling the sense of responsibility for what I foresee coming in the not-so-distant future. But, you can lead a horse to water.. right?
                it is not your duty to raise her IQ.
                she has a horse she can trail ride. mission accomplished. wish them well and decline. if you need a reason, just simply state that your training could be in conflict with his parelli training and you don't want to confuse him.
                www.destinationconsensusequus.com
                chaque pas est fait ensemble

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Losgelassenheit View Post
                  Anywho, you bring up the 2x/wk thing, which is something I also planned to mention, in addition to the confusion it might cause the horse since I would not be coming in there with consideration of my posture cues & whatnot. He'd need to respect me no matter which way I'm facing. Also, jumbling up what he's used to, I worry, would bring about a relapse that would be viewed as "because of me". I've been in that unfortunate spot once before and vowed never again.
                  I think you just gave her the explanation right there. Politely decline telling her this (minus the "never again" part, obviously). In all reality, it really does come down to owner responsibility if the horse goes back to old ways. YOU can't help that....SHE has to find what she's comfortable with in terms of training.

                  This is just one situation you don't need to be in the middle of. Listen to your gut.
                  "IT'S NOT THE MOUNTAIN WE CONQUER, BUT OURSELVES." SIR EDMUND HILLARYMember of the "Someone Special To Me Serves In The Military" Clique

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    To me, it's very clear you should stay away from this situation.

                    Though we may not agree with the training method (you couldn't pay me to train my horse the "Parelli way", for example) it has clearly worked for her, or at any rate, she thinks it has, and that's all that matters to her, isn't it?

                    Plus, conflict of interest. One H/J trainer + One Parelli Kook + One Overfaced Lady = Ticking Time Bomb.

                    If she approaches you in the future, if, say, the Parelli gambit doesn't work out, then re-evaluate and see how you feel... but for now I'd stay away. Far away.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by MHM View Post
                      Here's a little tip for you:

                      When you say to yourself, "I just know this is a bad idea" or "This is probably not going to end well..." Don't do it!

                      Whether it's about a horse, a client, a business deal, listen to your instincts.

                      It's bad enough when something goes wrong in a surprising way. It's at least ten times worse when it blows up in your face and you think, "I knew that was going to happen!"

                      Trust me on this.
                      This! For sure.

                      ESPECIALLY if your stalls are filling up!
                      Inner Bay Equestrian
                      Facebook
                      KERx

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Losgelassenheit View Post
                        Yes, Parelli is the carrot stick guy. In addition to that, she's been using some special type of rope halter for ground training, and then a "modified" standing martingale to ride in. She also mentioned a few other things that I'd never heard of before.

                        She is not interested in anything more than going for leisurely trail rides a few times a week, but was seeking someone from a "real discipline" as she put it, due to the rearing and her fear level of the horse. She'd somehow found my training resume & show background online, called several of my h/j references (one of which had a reformed rearer), and then came by the farm to speak with me in person. Her expression to me was that she'd been through the quick fix trainers, and then had been turned down immediately by several others when they were told about the rearing.

                        Most of my clients that she talked to are/were owners whose horses were sent to me for various issues & re-training, or those for which I am currently bringing along youngsters from the ground, up. That's really my passion -- working with the animals themselves, but I do have 1-2 kids and adults who come for lessons as well (all h/j).

                        Anywho, you bring up the 2x/wk thing, which is something I also planned to mention, in addition to the confusion it might cause the horse since I would not be coming in there with consideration of my posture cues & whatnot. He'd need to respect me no matter which way I'm facing. Also, jumbling up what he's used to, I worry, would bring about a relapse that would be viewed as "because of me". I've been in that unfortunate spot once before and vowed never again.

                        I think my real problem is I'm battling the sense of responsibility for what I foresee coming in the not-so-distant future. But, you can lead a horse to water.. right?
                        Part of your confusion over this issue seems to be a lack of knowledge about what the various schools of natural horsemanship, including Parelli, actually entail. You would do well to explore the theories behind them, if only in order to dispel your trepidation that your own more "classical" methods might be in conflict.

                        This, to me, is the great fallacy of "natural horsemanship." Most "branded" "natural" systems developed as a rejection of the roundup/cowboy 'git 'em broke today' rodeo style of 'horse taming' that comes to mind when we think of a 'beat-it-out-of-the-bucking bronco' till he submits, gives up, or dies scenario.

                        But from what I've seen, good natural horsemanship is and always has been EMBEDDED in the type of riding systems that most of us have already learned. We just haven't separated it out, branded it, offered products like that fancy halter you mention (well, you haven't, unless you are Nelson and Rodrigo Pessoa). That, and responsible trainers don't pair up inexperienced horsemen with "magnificent diamonds in the rough" that have never been taught manners to start with, and allow the beginner with stars in their eyes to decide that one of these critters might be their uniquely special "heart" horse that if they aren't rescued and sent through the $pendy School of Whoever's Natural Horsemanship Curriculum, might wind up on a van to Canada (and you know where that's going....).

                        So you get a lot of ladies that have been taught to turn their horse in a circle on the ground, and think they've achieved something...but they can't get on and go ride.

                        OTOH, some of those "natural" guys really know what they are doing, and we can learn quite a lot from them. It's a PLUS to be able to take away THAT part of the package. I've watched BB in action, and was quite impressed, and took several little pointers away from it that have been very useful, more in babies than grownup horses, but very useful just the same.

                        IOW, if you knew more about the whole topic, you would be able to speak with more authority it , and you wouldn't feel at a disadvantage when expressing your opinion and explaining your reasoning to someone like this lady. Or, second guessing yourself about deciding you don't want her in your barn as a client.
                        Inner Bay Equestrian
                        Facebook
                        KERx

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          If you really want her in your program... I'd go meet with the Parelli trainer. If that trainer is actually onboard with her working with you, maybe you could do something good and gain a valuable contact.

                          Obviously, there is a negative perception of Parelli as a cult, but if you have a trainer who is sincerely saying... OK, now go work with your HJ person, maybe that Parelli trainer is one of the good ones.

                          Because none of the kooky ones are going to say "OK, go work with your HJ trainer".

                          If you meet with the trainer and she's a whack job or just not on the same wavelength, just pass on it.But if you meet, and there is some agreement and ability to work together, maybe you just gained a really great asset to your business.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I agree entirely with this, M. O'Connor. Plenty of quacks out there, of every variety. Plenty to learn from others who have done some thinking on the subject of training horses, and know how to express their ideas and practices to others, no matter how they label and promote themselves.

                            OP, sounds like you do need to walk away from this one though. There are plenty more fish in the sea.

                            Originally posted by M. O'Connor View Post
                            Part of your confusion over this issue seems to be a lack of knowledge about what the various schools of natural horsemanship, including Parelli, actually entail. You would do well to explore the theories behind them, if only in order to dispel your trepidation that your own more "classical" methods might be in conflict.

                            This, to me, is the great fallacy of "natural horsemanship." Most "branded" "natural" systems developed as a rejection of the roundup/cowboy 'git 'em broke today' rodeo style of 'horse taming' that comes to mind when we think of a 'beat-it-out-of-the-bucking bronco' till he submits, gives up, or dies scenario.

                            But from what I've seen, good natural horsemanship is and always has been EMBEDDED in the type of riding systems that most of us have already learned. We just haven't separated it out, branded it, offered products like that fancy halter you mention (well, you haven't, unless you are Nelson and Rodrigo Pessoa). That, and responsible trainers don't pair up inexperienced horsemen with "magnificent diamonds in the rough" that have never been taught manners to start with, and allow the beginner with stars in their eyes to decide that one of these critters might be their uniquely special "heart" horse that if they aren't rescued and sent through the $pendy School of Whoever's Natural Horsemanship Curriculum, might wind up on a van to Canada (and you know where that's going....).

                            So you get a lot of ladies that have been taught to turn their horse in a circle on the ground, and think they've achieved something...but they can't get on and go ride.

                            OTOH, some of those "natural" guys really know what they are doing, and we can learn quite a lot from them. It's a PLUS to be able to take away THAT part of the package. I've watched BB in action, and was quite impressed, and took several little pointers away from it that have been very useful, more in babies than grownup horses, but very useful just the same.

                            IOW, if you knew more about the whole topic, you would be able to speak with more authority it , and you wouldn't feel at a disadvantage when expressing your opinion and explaining your reasoning to someone like this lady. Or, second guessing yourself about deciding you don't want her in your barn as a client.
                            www.cordovafarm.weebly.com

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I'm sorry OP, you say you don't want to start a trainwreck but I honestly do not understand what the problem is. Owner has someone working with both her and her horse and is very happy with the results. On what basis are you concerned? Have you personally SEEN the recent results in horse and horse/rider?
                              ETA: and honestly if you ARE concerned but do not feel comfortable helping, that's okay - you just have to let go of that which you have no control over (which is sometimes very hard)

                              In case you're wondering, my background is traditional and I train for a variety of disciplines and purposes and am coached by traditional coaches. I am a little-p-pro, have two jumpers and a number of other horses, and use classical dressage as my foundation for any horse (western or english). The Parelli foundation I put on a horse blends really well with the classical dressage; in fact, I find the Parelli to naturally lead into the classical work. You can easily combine different methods. A good rider, a good trainer, can get on a horse and improve it no matter the method used prior. A horse's response is entirely dependent upon that person.

                              You're judging a method you obviously have little knowledge of; your assessment of it being a 'quick fix' etc etc etc, is completely incorrect. As with ANY method, the results depend on how THAT person applies the tool. Hey, if your gut tells you 'no', then by all means, don't do it. But don't blame it on Parelli
                              Last edited by naturalequus; Nov. 12, 2011, 10:09 AM.
                              ....horses should be trained in such a way that they not only love their riders, but look forward to the time they are with them.
                              ~ Xenophon, 350 B.C.

                              Comment

                              • Original Poster

                                #16
                                Thanks so much for all the input, guys.

                                I agree that essentially there's good and bad in just about everything, and hope I didn't come across as too anti-NH in my posts. I was at the BB film showing last year at WEF and took several positive things away from that, but this PP or CA.. eh..

                                I also think it's very interesting what you said, M. O'Connor, about many of the principles of the NH being embedded in our riding systems, just not singled out & renamed. I never would have thought to look at it from that perspective, but in doing so, it really is an eye opener. This is why I love COTH. Always something to learn.

                                Anyways, will be declining.. Now I just have to learn to stop worrying about what's out of my control.

                                ETA: naturalequus, sorry, we must have been writing at the same time. The basis of my concern was that this PP trainer came in with whatever her methods are and within a week or two put an inexperienced person on a very big, very green horse that knows he can bully his rider (or even handler on the ground) by rearing. He has already gone over twice, something I forgot to mention in the OP. Perhaps you are correct that the system in itself when practiced "properly" is not quick-fix, but IMO the way it was executed by this trainer for this already mis-matched pair, was.

                                My experience has also been (at least in my area) that there is an excess of backyard "trainers" who practice & pitch PP/CA precisely for the reason that it appears to get dramatic results quick. There's a "wow" factor to it that seems to appeal to less experienced horse people who become taken and enamored with the idea that it's the cure-all to their problems when in fact the situation is no more safe than it was before. That is also an issue for me because I'm just that type who would feel responsible should something occur in the future with this horse and the owner gets hurt.

                                That said, you are absolutely right that it's about how a person applies a method, and I will certainly concede that there are even h/j trainers out there who are more about the quickest way to the $$ sale than taking the time required to instill a good, solid foundation on a horse. That's half the battle for me already in trying to break into this business -- people assuming that I must be one of those largely due to being young, "new blood".

                                Anyways, I hope this thread will not derail. I respect your position, naturalequus, and have admired several of your posts & opinions in the past. I hope I've been able to clear up my words. It was not my intention to single anyone out.
                                Last edited by Losgelassenheit; Nov. 12, 2011, 10:24 AM.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by M. O'Connor View Post
                                  Part of your confusion over this issue seems to be a lack of knowledge about what the various schools of natural horsemanship, including Parelli, actually entail. You would do well to explore the theories behind them, if only in order to dispel your trepidation that your own more "classical" methods might be in conflict.

                                  This, to me, is the great fallacy of "natural horsemanship." Most "branded" "natural" systems developed as a rejection of the roundup/cowboy 'git 'em broke today' rodeo style of 'horse taming' that comes to mind when we think of a 'beat-it-out-of-the-bucking bronco' till he submits, gives up, or dies scenario.

                                  But from what I've seen, good natural horsemanship is and always has been EMBEDDED in the type of riding systems that most of us have already learned. We just haven't separated it out, branded it, offered products like that fancy halter you mention (well, you haven't, unless you are Nelson and Rodrigo Pessoa).
                                  ....horses should be trained in such a way that they not only love their riders, but look forward to the time they are with them.
                                  ~ Xenophon, 350 B.C.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by Losgelassenheit View Post
                                    Now I just have to learn to stop worrying about what's out of my control.
                                    Another valuable lesson, best learned early in the horse business.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by Losgelassenheit View Post
                                      I think my real problem is I'm battling the sense of responsibility for what I foresee coming in the not-so-distant future. But, you can lead a horse to water.. right?

                                      I understand how you feel about some of the NH, I have tried to understand some of it and don't. But then again I was watching owners that don't ride their horses. And Im not much of a round pen fan...so there you have it.

                                      On your above quote; at least she is in a program with someone and not on her own... hopefully it will work out well for her......
                                      Live in the sunshine.
                                      Swim in the sea.
                                      Drink the wild air.

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                                      • #20
                                        Hi - just to put your mind at ease. You were/are correct to decline to take her now that she is doing Parelli. She will most likely not do what you ask. WHY?
                                        because IMHO, parelli is a cult and the ones who do it do not change.

                                        My newbe girlfriend is a Parelli nut and went looking for a horse. there are not many parelli-trained horses out there but she Insisted on doing parelli stuff w/them anyway! We found several that were afraid of the longe whip/carrot stick. But it isn't a longe whip she says and does not believe me when I say to put it down.

                                        But don't fear, this lady WILL NOT get on her horse if she feels the least be nervous or unsure about it after doing her groundwork. This I have seen personally. So if he acts out, and she can't get him to settle, she won;t get on. it is that simple.

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