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Parelli Party Poopers

Published: 11/13/2009
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Pat and Linda Parelli have made immense contributions to the world of horsemanship.

If we were making a Pros versus Cons chart, all you’d need would be Robin Kroc’s testimony (see articles) to be convinced Parelli is ALL GOOD.

But there are those who disagree.
So in the Parelli tradition of catch phrases and acronyms, let's call them PPP, Parelli Party Poopers.
Here are some snippets from around the NickerNews ibarn:
  •  If I hear or read the word “Savvy” one more time, I’m going to toss my computer out the window!
  • If you can’t say “Prior and Proper Preparation” five times fast, do you get booted down the Level One? If you don’t cheer “Savvy” at the end of every class do you get kicked out of the program?
  • I’m going out to feed my horses now, is there a certain Parelli way I should handle it?
  •   Parelli People are awful religious sorts. They follow their leader with vigor and conviction. And no other God will do. So if you pray the right way, are you a better horseman?
  • I know NickerNews probably feels it benefits readers to hear all about Pat and Linda Parelli’s program and how fantastic it is. But let me tell you, for Yours Truly, it’s over the top. I feel like I’m being dragged along on a pilgrimage!
  • Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for learning good horsemanship. And we all know Parelli has brought natural horsemanship mainstream and made it accessible to the masses. But all this cheeriness has got me ready to smack someone.
  • Parelli is the king of catch phrases and logos.  Heck, it seems like the horse world is built on them...Clinton Anderson has the No Worries Club... John Lyons has the Replacement Concept (among others)... Chris Cox has “Building Confidence Through Knowledge.” ...Even Maine’s own Chris Lombard has them: "Helping Horses and People to Build Trust at All Levels" ...But how about ‘ Get er done ’? Or, ‘ Be nice, but not too nice.’

View Reader Comments:

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11/18/2009 kim
not one of those criticisms was constructive. are they anti-parelli? or just sick of reading/hearing about it and looking for more to learn about?
11/18/2009 Julie
I personally do not care for all the catch-phrases and acronyms that are so popular with the Parelli' well as I also cringe every time I hear the word "savvy," but the Parelli's do reach thousand of folks who need help with the relationship with their horse...and that's what matters most. It is a matter of realizing you need help and then finding a trainer that fits your personality. I do not care to listen to some of the trainers out there...they have turned me off at one point or another...either their wording or their actions or they just plain "bug" me. That's my choice to not listen. In the end, I praise everyone who tries to better themselves so that they can better their matter who they choose to learn from and follow.
11/18/2009 Joanne
I can see where people would get tired of the "catchy phrases". It can be annoying, but then again, you have the choice to listen or not. My feeling is, no matter who the instructor is, they all have the same basics in mind....improving your relationship with your horse, and it all starts with ground work. I've listened and watched Parelli, Lyons, Anderson, Pony Boy, Lombard, and that's only to name a few, and they all have the same basic concepts, just taught in their own terms. Kudos to them all for helping us horse owners better understand these magnificent animals!
11/19/2009 Molly
On the contrary - I think there was one very constructive critique - "And we all know Parelli has brought natural horsemanship mainstream and made it accessible to the masses. " - However I reserve judgment on Parelli- Don't you think it would be wise to consider,research and try what works and NOT devote you and your horse to one particular way? What happened to just enjoying your horse? I read my boys ALL the time- we have conversations on a daily basis - I always tell my friends "well he told me...." try it - ask them some morning how their night was - I'm sure they get their point across one way or another and you deal with it....
11/20/2009 Name not provided
I have personally seen Pat Parelli and I'm not interested in him. In fact, I saw plenty of Pat at the Tom Dorrance Benefit in Fort Worth, TX. Ray Hunt had to reprimand him twice and Carolyn Hunt also reprimanded him. Do the words, "that's enough Pat, put that colt up" coming from the great Ray Hunt's mouth cause any of you Parelli-ites to wonder about whether Parelli is in it for the money or in it for the horse. I've seen enough for myself. I don't think that Parelli is in it for the horse. I just hope that those of you that are so enamoured with Parelli and his games see enough of those great horseman that are in it for the horse to see the truth.
12/2/2009 rick weinberg
The Parelli system is based on increasing phases of force. To the horse this boils down to "do it, or else". This is a system of domination, forcing the horse to submit. Some horses submit easliy, others rebel. There are ways to get willing cooperation from your horse without force. Just read anything by Leslie Desmond to discover what a real partnership looks like.
4/29/2010 Susan
Pros - Thanks to Parelli people understand the importance of relationship building and communication Con - Parelli videos role model dangerous rider behaviors. I just watched one where the rider rode bareback and bridleless into a 2 horse trailer. No helmet. Just plain dangerous and unnecessary. Novice riders might think this is a 'fun way to play with their horse'.
9/15/2010 Disgusted
My husband and I had the dishonor of working for the Parelli's for more than a year. Both Pat and Linda have god complexes. They don't care about the average person who spends money they really don't have on dvd's and equipment and follows them like a cult. If that person doesn't stick with the program, there is always the next sucker in line. All about the money. We also attended the Tom Dorrance benefit with the real horsemen of the world and it was embarrassing to watch Parelli get reprimanded by Ray Hunt.
3/14/2011 valerie mcintyre
I joined the parelli savvy club to get a halter at half price. It's a great halter...but I am not necessarily a Parelli fan. I saw a video of Pat 'training' and a 4 yr horse. I watched as the 22 foot rope he used got tangled around his legs. I watched as the horse was not listening to the Parelli savvy training. At times Pat said, the horse is acting up and other times said the horse is playing...he switched gears depending on what I guess he thought of at the moment. I then watched as he rode a small sized horse in full western gear over jumps....people applauded and oohhed and awwwed him. It was one of the worst 'training' videos I had ever seen. All ego. I am sure the Parellis are making BIG $$$$ from all of their must haves in order to make your horse the perfect mount...must have a carrot stick, must have a 22 foot rope...must have..oh who can remember all the must haves....
5/16/2011 Kim
I am totally for pat and Linda - they are indeed managing to change the world and the disgusting way that so called 'Horse Lovers' treat their horses! For goodness sake - stop trying to find stupid and nasty comments to say about them - go get a job, or if you are not interested, keep your bloody nose of of something you know nothing about! Lets look at the positive here - Pat and Linda have saved many horses lives through their programme - give them credit not abuse, people like you guys who criticise the programme have not been involved or seen it for what it is. I have just lost my mare which I have had for 11 years, she was going to be shot because she was so dangerous - Pat's programme saved her so keep you comments to yourself - it makes me bloody angry!
7/10/2012 JamieRose
if one more client assumes that i am going to use Parelli techniques just because i am a natural horsewoman, I AM GOING TO GO RIGHT BRAINED! HAhahahahaaaa!!!
1/17/2013 Andrea
I am currently working through the parelli programme with an instructor. i bought my horse a few months ago but was finding him really undeconfident when ridden, I felt I should just press on but i really felt that he was unsafe. After a really bad fall I wasn't sure which way to go, i was told to 'break his spirit' and show him who's boss but I knew he was frightened not bad. In a very short time after starting the Parelli programme he started to relax and respect me, everyone has commented on how he has changed. Pat Parelli is annoying to watch as he goes on a bit but I am convinced that this system will benefit all partnerships. That's not to say that everyone needs to use Parelli but if you have any problems I would suggest using this system to get both you and your horse working in harmony.
1/20/2013 Rays Friend
I have just bought a level 1-2package from Parelli. Along came a magazine SavvyTimes in the mail. The 30 years Pat has been training is outlined in a time line fashion. He makes no reference to Ray Hunt anywhere! This is disturbing to me. I had the opportunity to have Ray and Carolyn stayat my place for a week several years ago. Great people and an amazing horseman. Ray taught a lot of people including Pat Parelli. Too bad he does not recognize the fact in his magazines and self proclaiming attributes. I am sorry but Pat is a good horseman, he just caught himself in a trap of marketing, and the desire to create his own cult. Just my thoughts. I was searching for some credit to Ray in Parelli's stuff and have not found anything. Yet. Just dissapoointed. Give credit where credit is due. Seen Parelli on the Ray Hunt Appreciation video. Looked like a hot dog! He is a skilled horseman,just needs to remember where he came from!
8/5/2013 Jack Parelli Student
There are a lot of pieces to slice out of Parelli, before getting to the bone ? Branding/Marketing, the humans involved/ego, and the actual horsemanship. Horsemanship, for me is what matters. Compared to the industry standard and show barn world (clueless people with too much $, and no sense, trying to manage large animals) Parelli offers a good alternative. I also think it can teach and help people with glaring issues. Level 1 and 2 are very crude and basic but offer a good first glimpse into a better type of horsemanship. To REALLY advance in the ?program? you had better be ready to shell out big bucks and you better only do ?Parelli? and use their equipment. I also found while going through the program that I was given so many ?tasks? that it just started feeling like extra noise. Tasks are fine but they lacked a clear direction of how to carry that into riding. I recently talked to an amazing horseman who was somewhat critical of Parelli. And I asked him why. His response was, ?Well from day 1 I am looking for balance, correct movement, and a smooth transition from the ground to riding. Parelli often focuses on a list of tasks, that very often, don?t translate well to the goals I listed. Often a lot is over looked and has to be cleaned up later.? This made sense to me. Parelli was fine for me very early in my journey to be better but lost me now. But the problem is there are very few places left to turn for GOOD information and feedback.
8/12/2013 Tiredofparelli
It's so stupid! Why do something at liberty? Why do something on the ground get on your horse you old haggs.
I have read so many comments about Parelli, mostly about it being expensive, taking too long, dangerous, good for beginners etc etc. Well, the truth is far deeper than anything I have read. I have spent the past 8 years dedicated to this more than anything else in my life. I have spent way more than 20 hours a week, for over 8 years, studying, watching dvds, playing with my horses, taking numerous clinics, and even spending thousands more dollars to travel great distances to attend clinics in Pagosa, at the hub of Parelli. What a waste of 8 years and thousands of dollars. If I can keep at least one person from making the same mistake I made, the time and money I spent will have been worth it. People claim that Pat and Linda have been caught up in the corporate end of things, as though they were victims, and had no say in the choices they made. WRONG! They knew who Mark Weiler was and they know who Sara Johnson is (the new Cheif Operating Officer) and they signed them up, with open eyes. Mark came to Pat and Linda with his plan, which was to go after the rich only! That was why their prices went so high. OOPS, the plan did not work and business began going badly. They had to make some drastic marketing changes, not for the good of the horse or their students, but only to convince you to buy more products and line their pockets. Mark Weiler has actually had the guts to apologize to the Parelli team and take responsibility for their initial downfall. Then, along came Sara. Sara was Clinton Anderson's marketing Guru, the one who managed all of his products. I wish I could tell you how they managed to get her, given that Pat and Clinton are enemies but I guess you should keep your enemies close, right. ... Parelli rules with fear. Instructors especially, are not allowed to tell the truth. I encourage you to find some ex-instructors for more information and to validate what I am telling you. Oh, buy the way, I am an ex-instructor and that is why I am free to share. What I mean about them ruling by fear is that if an instructor speaks up, their membership is terminated. No questions asked, no money returned, no thank-you's for the blood sweat and tears. Fear is a powerful motivator and rather than putting the relationship first, Parelli puts the fear of "god" into its instructors to behave. Speaking of God, all students (future instructors), when taking the Fast Track, are expected to follow the acronym: WWPD (what would Pat do?). Pat Parelli ithinks of himself on par with Jesus. The phrase "What would Jesus do?" (often abbreviated to WWJD) became popular in the United States in the 1990s and as a personal motto for adherents of Evangelical Christianity who used the phrase as a reminder of their belief in a moral imperative to act in a manner that would demonstrate the love of Jesus through the actions of the adherents. If that is not enough evidence of how egotistical this man is, I don't know what else to tell you. Instructors are also trapped into spending more and more money, year after year. Licensing fees are now up to $1400 annually (last year it was $1100, the year before $900). When will it stop. All that gets you is the legal right to use their logo and to put your name on their website. Woo Hoo! After the licensing fees, then come the insurance fees, the continuing education fees....oh yes, instructors are obligated to put in time teaching at the campus, all at their cost, unless you are a higher level instructor, then you get some pay for it. Although you are not available for teaching your own students. Don't forget attending tour stops, Savvy Conferences, Instructor Conferences. They tell you it is voluntary, and then they have you submit all of your Parelli related activities in a monthly log....oh yes, big brother is watching. If you do not submit oodles and oodles of activities, they treat you lesser than. Good luck obtaining a scholarship, something they advertise continually. Or, unless you know someone at Corporate. I know an instructor who received a 100% scholarship because he knew Ann Kiser, not because of any qualifications. I guess the adage of "who you know" applies at Parelli as well. The unfortunate part of this is that this man could afford to pay the fees, while others, who were not given scholarships, could not. Now lets talk about the Fast Track. It is 4 weeks of little instruction, that is supposed to accelerate your learning to Level 4. What a joke. The first day, is a 1/2 day, because of orientation, the next 3 days are testing, and the last day of the first week, you meet with mentors and put up a plan for the following week. The last week there are only 4 days, because one day is graduation and leaving the premises and within this four days are a couple more days of testing. The other two Fridays are also meet with mentor days and so, you get approximately 9 - 10 days of actual instruction. Hmmmm, how interesting. You should look up the cost of those 9 days. Then there is the "Refining Level 3/4" course. That was the final straw for me as I could not take their deceptions any more. The course listed numerous tasks and concepts that we would be covering that really are a part of Level 3 and 4. I needed some official scoring to continue teaching as an instructor (more on that later) and with what they advertised, I was quite certain that the few things I needed to tweek and add would be covered. Let me see, I was after flying lead changes, positive expressions, light responses etc. What I got was, tying knots, tying the halter, throwing out the 45' line (on the ground) and winding it up again. All Level 1 and 2 tasks. We also go numerous video clips (mostly unrelated and comical), not to mention breaks that were 1 1/2 hours to 2 hours. This course was run by Tina Giadano and it was run badly. There was no acceleration of Level 3 and 4. I asked for my money back, numerous times, and was flatly refused. And Parelli has a policy that all instructors are obligated to give a 100% refund if a student is dissatisfied. I was dissatisfied. Finally Sara (the COO) told me that her decision was final and that I would not get any money back and that my emails would no longer be responded to, by anybody. So I decided to post on Parelli Connect that I was dissatisfied by their decision and that Parelli did not follow their own policies. Sara cancelled my membership, right then and there. I think she was looking for an excuse to do so and she found one because the truth is not allowed to be posted. ... I read one post from someone who was surprised that Pat never mentioned Ray Hunt. Actually, he has, but not very often. The thing is, Ray Hunt hated Pat Parelli. There are many people who knew this and I am surprised the writer, who Ray visited, did not. I believe that Tom Dorrance also came to the end of his rope with Pat, but Tom was a gentle, quiet man, who would not publicly denounce Pat. Most respected clinicians out there today have no time for Pat Parelli and his rudeness, his constant need for attention and his greediness. These clinicians are about the horse and how you can get on the best with them. If you want some names, let me know and I can make some recommendations on where you can accelerate your horsemanship. (I will not use the term natural horsemanship anymore because it too has become overused. What is the most natural thing for a horse to do in the face of run! So what is natural about asking them to keep their feet still? What we are wanting to learn is safe and confident horsemanship, not natural horsemanship. And following the Parelli method will cost you greatly in blood, sweat and tear, and lots of money. Way too much money, for very little return. These are comments from people that I personally know but I will not use their names for obvious reasons: I learned more from Janiece in 3 days than in 10 years of Parelli. I learned more from Jonathan in 5 hours than in the "4-week" Fast Track (in Pagosa) I learned from Buck Brannaman that Parelli had taught my horse to be dull. Me too! And me! I learned more at McGinnis Meadows, in 5 days, than I learned with Parelli in 5 years. My own experience, I learned more in 8 months of studying under wonderful horsepeople than I learned in 8 years of Parelli, at only a fraction of the cost. I have heard from other people that there is more back-stabbing and criticizing in the Parelli program than anywhere else. I have experienced this first hand. 5 Star Canadian instructor Don Halladay came up to a new instructor and warned her to stay away from "his" students. How is it that he can claim ownership over people. Oh wait, isn't that what Parelli stands for, ownership of people? .... The changes were not about what was good for the horse. The basic principals of how to deal with horses has never changed so why has the program changed so much. Not because of what they want you to know, but because of what can be sold to you. Do you not see how you are only pawns and wallets. If you want to learn about your horse, develop a relationship with your horse, and accelerate your horsemanship, please study elsewhere. You will be grateful that you did. I regret that time and money I gave to these people for they did not care about my journey. ... There are many who are in Parelli who speak positively about it and I used to be one of those. I wore blinders and used to judge others for not "getting it" like I did, and a few Parelli friends around me. Funny thing is, these same friends are also studying under the same people that I now study under and are also finding their horsemanship accelerating. Those of you who are for Parelli, you just don't know what you don't know....Yet! I used to be Parelli, and then my brains came in!
12/19/2013 backyoursmackup
I really don't know much about Parelli. From a business stand point, it appears to be very much a pyramid scheme. from a horse's point of view I have experienced quite a few of the instructors and the students. they know it all.and they don't have a problem letting you know what it is you should be doing it. recently I have had the pleasure of living next to one of his students. I now know that my horse does not have a personality but a horseanality and that my way of interacting with my horse is what is called "the normals way." my bit is too harsh, I need to play with my horse, and Mr. Parelli knows what is best for me and my horse. this Parelli follower owns a herd of horses but does not ride them but plays with them on the ground.....I ride my horses daily, and I interact with them daily. where I come from we ride our horses. Parelli people play with them on the ground. talking smack about us normals means you back it up...but if you can't ride your horses after 8 years of playing with them on the ground maybe you ought to keep your mouths shut. I like normal. not Parelli.
1/13/2015 Peg
Parelli was good initially in getting me over my fear of this huge, stubborn, can be nasty mare I have. I had never experienced a horse with as many problems as she had. But the one thing I got from Parelli was the concept of pressure and release. What I don't like is the amount of talk and catch phrases that really don't help me remember anything. There are too many of them. Now Buck Brannaman is great. But again the same problem. They start throwing words at you and talking about leg pressures as you watch the videos but since the horses they are typically on are well trained you can't see what he is actually doing and he...all of to explain in words clearly. Often it takes me watching, Parell, Buck, Clint (who I hate) and anyone else I can find covering the same subject when I finally understand what they are actually doing and then I can implement. I am a little turned off by the commercialization of Parelli. He is truly a great business man. His wife does nothing for me. AGain the entire "Horsenality" was just another way to make money. I want to know the basics. Ultimately how do we want the horse to respond when I do A, B, C, D. How do I get them to respond to A, B, C, D. What is the horse feeling and thinking. With Problems I want to know multiple ways to teach trailer loading. For example: Lets start with the first most straight forward method and if he seems to hate the stepping up into the trailer then do "This" or "That". If he doesn't like the confinement...then prep with "this or That". If the horse doesn't stall then can we assume we might have issues with trailering....then do "this or that". I want more on how to get the horse to want to come to me. I would prefer not to bribe a horse to come in from the pasture. You get the rest of the horses also and end up with three horses trying to get that bucket of feed you are holding. I want to understand who is boss in the pasture and how boss is directing the other horses so that I know that regardless of how many times I almost catch Dixie that the other horse in the pasture is telling her....NO! don't Go!. After getting through all the Savvy Layers I am still left with too many questions.
4/28/2015 Heather
Reading through the comments posted re: Parelli - just a few thoughts. I have never attended a Parelli clinic - I've seen a few episodes of his show (on RFD-TV.) So my actual knowledge of his techniques is pretty limited. However, I have been asked if I "practice" Parelli techniques a number of times by obserevers .....I don't, because I don't know what that is except for the part about opening up your wallet and spending lots of money. I actually use more of Clinton Anderson's techniques because most of the horses I handle are quite rank so I find his heavy handed approach works best to get their undivided attention, at least at first. After that, I cherry-pick the best or most usable parts of techniques from other trainers....It's all essentially Ray Hunt/Tom Dorrance, anyway....
10/4/2015 Unhappy student
Can someone tell me where I can find more information about this satisfaction guarantee policy? Parelli has a policy that all instructors are obligated to give a 100% refund if a student is dissatisfied.
Regarding the negative posts - I have to say that you are welcome to your opinion but I am wondering why you felt the need to express it in an assuming way. How can you consciously and fairly comment on something you have never tried? I bet most of you have never spent a single minute with Pat or Linda, or watched any of their educational material! Wether you like the Parelli's or not, you can't deny that they have helped thousands of horses and their owners to develop a better partnership, and at the end of the day isn't that what we all want?, to be in harmony with our horses? I despise traditional methods but I don't seek out forums so that I can personally bash those trainers and clinicians, especially without at least experiencing it first. and I am sure plenty of people have watched traditional methods and wondered why anyone would do THAT to a horse! For the ex instructor who wrote the long post - I have never heard such a crock....... The only thing I got from your rant was that you are obviously someone who does not take responsibility for your own actions. There's always two sides to every story! With that in mind, Pat and Linda have done a lot of good for a lot of horses and owners. It's true they can't make everyone happy all of the time, but I would invite you all to seek a way to contribute to others instead of manifesting feels better to everyone that way.
12/15/2016 Jimmy
RESPONSE TO RICK WEINBERG COMMENT: I am interested in this Leslie Desmond lady. I just read an article on her and while I want to be "nice" to the horse, I, as well as Leslie is looking at "nice" from a human perspective. Horses are NOT human and natural horsemanship is about speaking the language of the horse. Horses play by being dominant. Horses bite and kick at each other for fun or to show dominance but not out of anger and hate because they don't think like that. 1st one to move their feet loses. And that's what parelli does and that's the language of the horse. Leslie says that respect like that is wrong and it is... for humans... not for horses

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