Way more than horsemanship

Dear Friends,

So here we are in Pagosa – we arrived 3 days ago.  The weather has been lovely and sunny, and today it is a little cooler.  The snow on the mountains is so picturesque and brings to life something I say every time we come back to Pagosa… it makes my heart POUND!

It’s fun to watch my horses as they settle back in to their summer digs.  Remmer is such a chicken-spook (innately speaking) so when he gets back here he thinks that the area behind my barn is very dangerous!  Allure doesn’t but he will follow Remmer’s lead and do as any good follower would – jump and run when the leader runs!  In about a week Remmer will be just fine but I am savvy enough not to force the issue.  I make it his choice because I know that when I’m there he is fine… it’s when he’s by himself (or the leader of his two-horse herd with Allure) that he has to do whatever it is that makes him feel safe.  So he can hang out in other parts of his multi-acre field, the places in which he feels more safe.

From the Levels Program DVDs, filmed in the summer of 2009, many of you have seen the beautiful purple-colored Russian Sage plants on the bank above the little arena behind my house.  Right now it all looks brown and barren and there are still a few big snowy patches at the bottom of the bank! Today, Caton pointed out the tire marks he made in one with the 4-wheeler!

I look at this and marvel at nature… because in just  a few weeks it is going to look very different.  Winter is a time of potential, when the dark is initiating processes we won’t see until the emergence of Spring.  And as Spring goes into Summer we realize the full beauty of nature as we harvest its riches, feed our senses and gain nurturance.  Then there is the Fall, the autumn that seeds the new cycle that begins with winter again… but here is where we celebrate the culmination of four seasons.

It is in moments like this that I covet the lessons I learned from my mentor whom I met in the mid 1980s, Glynn Braddy.  He taught me then (and still does) about the seasons of life… to understand that the best and the hardest times are nothing more than ‘phases’ we are going through, and that this too will pass.  How easy it is to experience moments and periods of difficulty, of frustration, and not be able to see beyond them.  I believe that what we make of life is our own, to understand that we have choices and we can choose to be enriched by the experience.  I think about how often I have looked back and thought… “If not for that, this would not have happened”.  But at that time I remember being terribly frustrated or perplexed by it.  I could have saved myself the stress.

Glynn paved the way for me because when I met Pat a few years later, I had already been groomed in understanding things from a different perspective, to not be angered or frustrated by events as they unfolded.  So as I learned these same lessons about horses I found myself in familiar territory and realized an element of peace and excitement that I didn’t know was available in my horsemanship.  I met Pat in 1989, and it literally changed my life with horses… and then my life’s course.  And to this very day, it helps me differentiate training approaches because I see when it honors the horse, honors the student, honors the self… and when it doesn’t.

To this day I try to live my life as if I was looking back 10 years out from now.  It doesn’t necessarily make me smarter, but it gives me a sense of perspective and peace in my every day existence.  Above all, it makes me want to be the most and the best that I can be.

Are there any experiences you have had on your horsemanship journey with your horse (let’s not get into the life ones!) that now, knowing what you know, would have made you a whole lot more peaceful at that time?!  I think it’s valuable for you to share these.  Many will learn from it and even me.  I know that every time I invest an hour or much more with students at our courses, this subject becomes one of the most empowering elements of all. Thank you for sharing, and for contributing to the values and preciousness of life through horses :)


PS  Glynn Braddy is hard to find… most likely on purpose.  Apart from shaping my emotional and philosophical intelligence, he was my inspiration for Horsenalities (as a SC member you can access that story in the vault!)… and he also formulated Parelli Essentials, the biochemical stroke of brilliance that none of our horses would ever be without.  It is way, WAY more than a supplement.  It grooms the digestive system in a way that helps them get 10 times more out of their feed and supplements than you can imagine.  If I was stuck on a desert island with my horses, and I could bring only one thing for them… this would be it.


Filed under Horsemanship, Lifestyle, Remmer, Teaching

48 responses to “Way more than horsemanship

  1. Jacque Thaxton

    Hi Linda – –

    Thank you for all you and Pat are doing for all of us – – horses and humans! This is one of those subjects where one truly can’t see the forest for the trees – – or you don’t know what you don’t know until you know!

    I’ve been studying Parelli for the past ??? years, and I came to your first open house at Pagosa Springs and the first Savvy Conferences when we were out in the west pasture on hay bales and under big awnings. I had lunch one day with Pat and Caton and several other enthusiasts – – we were so lucky! And the next year you were there, too! What a blessing you have all been.

    My RBI brought me into the program, and I thank God every day for her. I did end up getting frustrated and selling her and was horseless for 3 yrs. (I am also a RBI and I think we just scared each other to death.) Then I purchased a LBI – – this was way before we actually had the horsenality info. to help us. Initially this horse was just so easy going and the perfect partner and I thought – – how boring! LOL!!!! Now I say, “how interesting” a lot and have developed a much better sense of humor. We are studying level II and making great progress.

    I have an eight-yr.-old grandaughter who exhibits symptoms of oppositional defiance disorder and I have been using the strategies I use with my LBI horse on her – – it’s working VERY well! If I can do the opposite of what she expects me to do, find creative ways to take the arguing and fight down quickly, and reward the SLIGHTEST TRY – – there is no fight left and peaceful days and nights reign supreme!

    Our egos are so large and in charge of our every day lives, it is difficult for us to realize just how confrontational we are for our horses, even when we think we are not or at least are trying not to be difficult to get along with. Horses are a gift and are the master teachers of true forgiveness. They teach us like no other being about restoring confidence and trust in our lives. Yes, we are predators and they are prey animals and in our twisted ego-centered lives, we think somehow we are “in control” – – that we have the upper hand. The truth is, however, only your horse knows the rest of the story; and has from your very first encounter! The more you study Parelli and move forward on the horse/human partnership pathway, the more authentic you will become and the more insight you will have as to your real purpose in this life time.

    At one of the first Savvy Conferences, Pat asked one afternoon, “What do you think Parelli is all about?” I said under my breath, “World peace.”

    Parelli – – it’s way more than riding!

  2. Gaylen bettiol

    Wow.thats some story.we’ve all had some kind of breakthrough experience with difficult or damaged horses ,but ive come to understand(and its sad)that many people dont or wont ever feel the need to connect with the horse they are riding or working with.here in south africa,many horses suffer pain and misery at the hands of ‘educated’ riders and ignorant.there is so much bad history of ‘how my grandfather did it’ to be overcome.we try in our small way to make a difference,but its so frustrating.hope u get here sometime,although the big cities are far frm us.love u both

  3. Janice Dinkel

    I am so inspired by your writing. Having been around you when I worked at Parelli in Pagosa Springs, I could feel that sense of peace illuminating from you. I believe you are doing exactly what God has called you to do.
    I, too have gone through hard times, and looking back, it is about our reactions and our choices. Not easy to see at the time, but hindsight is always 20/20, isn’t it?
    Now I’m choosing to follow my call to work with a friend in N.M. on a ranch, using what I know about horses, relationships and God with those in need. I know many have chosen a call such as this because horses are such a blessing and so therapeutic. We’ll be working with lots of lost and hurting people, so as you said in your blog, we can’t always see why we go through what we do, but God has a plan. In my case, He wants to use what I’ve been through to help others. What can be more gratifying?
    You do this so well, and I feel so blessed to actually have met and had a fun time eating and singing around the campfire with you. You are so special!

  4. The Horsenalities have opened up the world of horses for me, if I had know ten years ago about horsenalities I wouldn’t have had to buy so many horses for my trail ride business and then sell them because they were not suited for this type of life. We just thought the LBE’s were just mouthy biters, and the RBE were nuts! We didnt realize how they saw and experienced the world differently. We thought one size fits all and that if horses didn’t fit into the job we needed for them to do that there was something wrong with them. I will be forever grateful for the gift of Horsenalities.
    By the way, you mentioning your beautiful home in Pagosa reminds me that in one of the new levels DVD’s I saw an animal of some type running past the back of your Dressage arena through the brush while the filming was going on. Did anyone else catch that?

  5. Sally Hamilton

    Thanks for sharing with us, when something goes wrong with me and my horse, you are the first person I run to (through the computer) to sort it out. This is why it’s so important to us to know about your challenges as well as successes. Pat is amazing but I learn more from you !
    Hope to come to Colorado one day!

  6. Centli

    Love your blog. Thankyou linda for taking the time to write :)

  7. Carole

    Wow, what a touching story!
    Linda, thank you so much for painting the picture of your home in Pagosa. It has always been my dream to go to Colorado, even from a little girl and I never knew why, now I do :) I’ve been to the Ocala campus and am now working hard towards making it to Fast Track in Pagosa, summer ’11.

    Horses are my passion and in true predator fashion I have, at times in the past, pushed as hard I could at becoming better at understanding and communicating with them. Understandably, I experienced some frustrating times! But, when you push, you grow. So in time, I learned that to push forward, you need to pull back, slow down and sometimes just sit, oy. Really? Just sit?

    So, it really isn’t about me of course. If I wanted to understand these marvelous creatures, I had to mirror them, and how much do horses really move in their comfort zone throughout the day. They do, but slowly for the most part. I learned in Ocala that I needed to be on my emotional balance point as much for my horse as I needed to be on a physical balance point while on her. Knowing that slowing down actually made progress go faster was enlightening. But the most enlightening part was that I no longer felt the need to go faster.

    Feeling like you are at the end of your knowledge sometimes creates a little “mental panic” unless you are balanced. Now I know that I just need to search out new knowledge and that very understanding keeps me more confident around my mare which in turn catapults our relationship. It’s all tied together and just becomes a flow of a journey instead of fits and spurts of growth.

    If I had known then what I know now…. well, now I do :) So on we go!

  8. Tammy

    My horse, Scooter, taught me so much. Of course, I didn’t realize it until I sold him, convinced he was nuts and dangerous. (sound familiar?)
    I’d heard of Parelli but had only dabbled in the 7 games enough for them to become the 7 tortures. I’m ashamed to admit it, but without the knowledge or idea of the reasoning behind the games, I thought they were more gimicky than useful.
    I was studying another clinician’s program, which stressed that it was critical for a horse to reverse direction in to you, rather than away. This was our sticking point. He didn’t understand what I wanted, and I didn’t understand that I was a predator. We argued over this for 2 weeks before Scooter had enough and charged me. Needless to say, I have never climbed over a fence faster in my life!
    We took time off, so he could “forget” what happened. First time back in the roundpen I kept pushing relentlessly for the proper turn, and got charged again. We never worked in the roundpen again. I sent him to a highly recommended trainer, which yielded poor results. I still couldn’t ride him.
    In the end, I sold him to a friend. They “clicked” and got along well. I was amazed at how he could ride Scooter bareback, and I couldn’t even pet him without him tensing up. I believed it was all the horses fault.
    I still had this mindset when I got my current horse, Bandit. I learned a few things with him the hard way too. Got an ambulance ride ride out of the arena after getting bucked off. After that, since I didn’t feel safe to ride him anymore, I decided to re-investigate Parelli. Wow… it amazes me how much you can learn once you decide you need to learn more!
    Bandit and I dove in head first and the changes were incredible. But you know that. :) I FINALLY understood what I had done to Scooter. He was my dream horse, and I had destroyed our relationship, because I didn’t know what I didn’t know.
    Thankfully, Bandit will never have to suffer like Scooter did. I can’t see anything now without first viewing it through the eyes of how my horse will feel about it.
    Recently, I saw a trainer in a roundpen preaching how important that inside turn was. I just wanted to scream “its not about the turn!!” Another was trying to get a rider to retrain herself to use her reins differently. I thought she wouldn’t have that problem if she learned to ride with one rein first. That thought was, in itself, an ah-ha moment. I’ve often wondered why Pat does some things the way he does. It never dawned on me that to change old habits, you have to totally break the mold of how you always did things before. AH-HA!
    Yes, things are often disappointing and discouraging. I sold my dream horse because I didn’t know better. I should tell you, that the last I heard of Scooter, he had become a cherished and trusted trail horse. Thanks to him, I have a much deeper understanding of why Pat is truly remarkable. It really is about the relationship first, above all else. In time, the rest will follow. This is a wonderful place to be and I will never, CAN’T EVER, go back. I doubt I would have had this deep of an understanding of the true message of Parelli if I had not have done so much damage to Scooter. It was only in my miserable failure with him that I was able to look back and see, to finally really understand, why.
    Thanks for giving the invitation to share our horse-life lessons Linda. You and Pat are truly blessed.
    Tammy and Bandit

  9. Jeane

    Linda-I can almost feel the wind, the sun on my skin, and the sheer joy of being in view of those beautiful mountains as I read your note- Thank you for that.

    There are so many stories I can remember during the last 10 years of my Parelli journey that have affected me very deeply, and I continue to learn and be shaped by these lessons daily.

    I think one of the most powerful lessons involved a pony I rescued from a very bad situation. He was on his way to auction because he had been badly abused and would fight for his life if you tried to touch him behind his withers. I brought him home in the middle of one of the coldest winters in memory, and at first turned him out into a round pen. Once he was loose, I was unable to get anywhere near him for three bitter cold, snowy, blustery days and nights. He was out in the elements with no shelter or blanket-too terrified to accept help in any form. I visited with him every day, trying to gain his trust by bringing him warm buckets of molasses water and never trying to touch him before he was ready. Every night while I was warm in my bed I cried, knowing that he was out there, cold and miserable. On the fourth day I went to the barn to carry out the routine again: I brought water to him, set the bucket down in front of me, turned away and squatted down-making no eye contact. He came over, sucked down half a bucket, and this time, he didn’t run off as usual, but instead reached out his little sweet muzzle and touched my cheek! I had to fight every instinct to grab him and instead, just did nothing. He finished the water and again, didn’t leave- sniffing my face, (which was now covered in tears)and it was clear that there had been a major shift in his energy. I stood up, reached for the halter on the rail behind me and held it out for him to sniff. He stayed. Moments later, he lowered his head into the halter and I was soon able to lead him into a warm, cozy stall for the night.

    Up until that moment, I had spent the last few days doubting everything “Parelli” I had ever thought I’d learned. “I knew nothing! I couldn’t even cause this pony to trust me!” But what I learned that night was what I’ve heard Pat say a thousand times: Take the time it takes. This journey isn’t all about what WE want, it’s about learning to appreciate the mental, emotional and physical aspects of these incredible creatures- how to give them what they need and want so that THEY want to have us as their trusted partners. It’s sometimes a very challenging bond to form, but if we learn to slow down and do less, we can get so much more out of these amazing relationships. I am reminded of this every single day, and I thank you and Pat again for bringing all of us along on this incredible journey.

    • OK, next time warn me that I’ll need the tissues! You told me this story a couple of years ago I think, it’s such a wonderful demonstration of ‘getting it’.
      I often tell the students here when I visit with them that you do Level 1 and think, OK, I got it. Then Level 2 and you say: Ohhh, now I get it. Then Level 3 and you say – I’m going to get this! And then somewhere in Level 4 you have the kind of breakthrough that you describe above. It’s the one where you absolutely can put aside your own natural instincts and put the horse first.
      Thanks for sharing this message.

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