I'm a person who has caught a glimpse of heaven in the horse world, and am in the process of dying to get there. Whether that entails becoming a Parelli Professional, or something completely different, I don't know. This much is clear: I want to achieve excellence with horses, and make the world a better place in the process.
There is a dream of having a fantastic relationship with a horse, just like in movies such as Black Beauty, the Black Stallion, and Sea Biscuit. In these movies we see traumatized horses, calmed and restored by the voice of their handler. We see the horse and boy cantering off into the sunset, bareback and bridleless. Wouldn't it be great to do that ourselves? Wouldn't it be brilliant to have those naive and childhood dreams become a reality?
The funny thing, is that as long as things are working out, even if its only just getting by, we tend not to question things. We'll settle for second best, purely because we've never experienced anything better. Its like the person who was born with a limp, who never questions his health, purely because he's never known any different. Its only when that person's health degrades to the point where he needs assistance (such as physiotherapy, extra support, wheelchairs) that he'll seek it.
This is where I found myself with Blaine. It wasn't that I suddenly realized that I wanted a great relationship with my horse, it wasn't that he 'pulled faces' when I rode him. It was that I needed a better relationship with him. We were in an impossible situation. We couldn't continue as we were. He was a terrified living nightmare. I couldn't ride him at all, and my attempts to make progress we heading us in the direction of some very expensive hospital bills.... And there my lovely little girl's dream went snap, bang BOOM! out the window. At the time it was very difficult, and many tears were cried, but, with hindsight this was also the place where my dreams came in touch with reality.
What I didn't realize, was that by having a horse that rocked my boat, my whole paradigm with horses was challenged. I was brought down out of a young girl's fantasy into the 'real world' and funnily enough, this is when my dreams started becoming reality. I was forced to think outside the box, and because my dreams were (and still continue to be) outside the box, they became just that little bit closer than before. I realised that things, even very difficult things, were possible if I was willing to invest the time, learning, patience and commitment needed.
It goes without saying, that if it weren't for the people in my life, I wouldn't have had the strength to continue with Blaine. I had to put in the effort to make my dreams reality, but they gave me the means to pursue my dreams in the first place. I owe everything to my parents and family; they have been my most constant support. Many hours discussing, crying, laughing, and planning have been spent with my parents. They also brought Catherine into my life, initially as a paid instructor. Catherine is one of my greatest friends and mentors in the horse-world. Those people who encouraged me to pursue my dreams also include Monty Roberts, Michael Peace, Mark Rashid, and Pat Parelli; all of whom are trailblazers in natural horsemanship. While I remain open-minded, my loyalties lie with the Parelli program.
Pat and Linda Parelli, and their program
The Parelli program suits me as it is so much more than a technique, it is an attitude to life. I also appreciate that there is a steady course of study to follow: the levels system. Pat Parelli talks about seven keys to success and all of these are covered in his (very successful) program:
- Attitude: the Parelli program hits the crux of the matter. If you're not willing to change your attitude, then your horse won't be either.
- Time: each level has a time-span, this of course is dependant on the learner
- Tools: Parelli equipment is wonderful quality, and does not compensate for bad handlers (no quick-fixes)
- Knowledge: A wide amount of knowledge is provided in the form of books, dvds, clinics and audiotapes
- Technique: Plenty of that in the levels packs and patterns!
- Imagination: Thinking outside of the box
- Support: In the form of other Parelli students or instructors. Through clinics, socials, playdays, and Parelli events.
When going through my horsemanship blog, and reading about my horses and my experiences, you'll come across the terms right brained and left brained. Those of you who are aware of right brain and left brain dichotomies in humans will find it interesting to hear that it also relates to horses.
Basically, in humans, the left side of the brain is the logical side. This part of the brain controls logic-based skills such as mathematics, reading, and writing. The right side is where the emotions are stored. Artists, and those with very good inter-personal skills are often predominantly right brained. Of course nothing is set in black and white, and all people use both sides of their brain. For instance, although I am naturally left brained, maths doesn't come naturally to me. On the other hand, I am very creative. Being aware of these dichotomies is useful in helping people understand themselves and their innate ways of thinking. The same applies to horses, although it is expressed in a different way ( I am yet to see a right brained horse prancing around with a paint brush, or a left brained horse seated at the computer!)
- A left brained horse's main focuses are dominance and play. Although, being prey animals, it is in their nature to be aware of safety, this is not their number one priority. Left brained horse are good for children, as they are far more predictable than right brained horses.
- Right brained horses are prey animals to the max! Their priority is safety, and if they don't feel safe, they'll do whatever they can to get safe. Every horse is looking for leadership, but this is especially true for right brained horses.
The other great thing about the Parelli program is that you can practice it to the degree that you want. If you're aiming to become a great horseman, and to help others in their horsemanship, its possible to become an instructor. At the same time, if your goal is to just develop personally, on a part-time level, that's also a viable goal.
The one thing that I'd say is that you have to choose the horsemanship program you're going to commit to, and then fully commit, 100%. I've met people who have a foot in each system, and while they may feel it gives them a broader amount of knowledge, I don't think it covers much of the depth within each system.
I am proud to have been home educated. My parents' educational philosophy has enabled me to find my interests, but its also given me the time and freedom to pursue these interests. To find out more about the way I've been educated, see my mom's website.
Christianity sits very well with my thinking. My horses, my life, and my dreams are based upon freedom and respect. The place where I first found that freedom is through Christianity. The more I discover about horses and their psychology, the more I discover of God. When I discover love, intuitiveness, and communication, I find God too.
I try to honour God with my work; He created me in the first place, so the only way I can thank Him for that is by living my life for Him, and in turn, seeking His will for my life. A lot of prayer goes into my horses, decisions and ventures.