That’s Dangerous!

Many of you know about the horse that brought me to Pat back in 1989.  His name is Regalo (he’s 30 now and living at our Sydney Campus), a 16.1hh chestnut thoroughbred, and pretty extreme Right Brain Extrovert!  Boy do I wish I knew about horsenalities then.  Parelli was my last hope, and thank goodness I found it.

So some 12 months after beginning Parelli, my problems were firmly behind me and we were making incredible progress.  This spooky, bolting, fearful, panicky,distrustful, impulsive horse finally trusted me and we were becoming partners… I could ride him in a halter, pretty much anywhere and this was a far cry from my previous experiences which usually involved bits, nosebands, martingales and very short reins.  We didn’t trust each other and I didn’t know how to change that… I didn’t know it could be changed, let alone that much.

So on this particular day, I crossed the road from my barn and went into the national parks for a leisurely trail ride.  Not only was that something special that I could do with Regalo now (I couldn’t trail ride him before), but I was bareback and in a halter with one rein and a Carrot Stick.

As we rode along in the dappled sun I started thinking about how lucky I was to have found Parelli and what an enormous change it had made to my life with horses… just look at how much harmony Regalo and I now had.  Then all of a sudden, I saw a rider coming towards me the other way.  As she drew closer I could see the trouble she and her horse were having.  The grey horse was black with sweat, foaming under the straps of his martingale.  He had a gag bit on that was half way up his face because the rider was pulling so hard, a crossover noseband strapped tight, his eyes were white-ringed and his head was up as far as it could go, straining against the reins and the martingale.  The rider had on a crash hat, a padded protective vest and rubber-ribbed gloves for extra grip.

As they came prancing towards me I thought “Gosh, that used to be me!  How miserable that was and how terribly dangerous.  I bet she wishes she could have the relationship I have with my horse.”

And as she rode by me, she shot a contemptuous look at my halter and said “That’s dangerous!”

I was shocked and surprised at her reaction, but then I smiled to myself and said, “How interesting” as Regalo and I continued along our merry way.

Like me, you’ve probably had some of these experiences.  Why don’t you share what was happening at the time?

Yours naturally,


By the way, Regalo means ‘gift’.  And he was indeed.  Look at what he’s given me :)


Filed under Horsemanship

90 responses to “That’s Dangerous!

  1. mackinnon

    I am in Scotland & there are few Natural Horseman followers in my bit!There was hope when a field neighbour said how she loved to see myself & my duaghters with our ponies as we were always laughing & having fun unlike the frustration & yelling in her field.However,a year on & she snubs me !never asked for any idea on why we have so much fun & I believe is truly bitter because she cannot ride her dangerous RBE pony more than once a month if someone lets her plod behind them – even then he ususally returns home without her on board.So now she reports our ‘reckless & unruly’behaviour to the field owners at any opportunity – sour grapes – so sad.People find it so hard to challenge their ignorant opinions & be open to learn more.

  2. Sue g

    Great story!
    It’s my ambition to ride my horse LBI like this for my 40th birthday….I’ve got just over a year to go. Wish me luck.
    I can’t wait till I hear the comments for all the non-believers when I do it. We are Level 2 now but I swear we have so much more fun than them already. Parelli ROCKS !

  3. Cindy McIntyre

    My 4yo arab x was started under saddle a year ago and we were trail riding within 2 months, thanks to Parelli. We began Parelli before she turned 3yo. She is a LBE who goes RBE when she gets unconfident, which, thanks to Parelli, is very rare now days. We were recently riding on the lovely Biltmore Estate here in Western North Carolina. I had just mounted Kleio form the large mounting block and I dropped my lead line from my Parelli Natural Hackamore. As Kleio stood patiently while I situated myself, an older lady from across the parking lot yelled at me “your ropes dragging, she’s gonna step on it!” I politely said “thanks, it’s ok, she won’t freak!” I could’ve added “because Parelli has shown me how to help my horse become a partner who is calmer, smarter, and braver and solves puzzles like an astrophysicist.” We calmly tied our ropes neatly and walked off into the forrest for a leisurely trail ride.
    Thanks Parelli!
    Cindy McIntyre

  4. Karen Daniel

    What a fabulous story! I had almost the same experience riding my 2-year-old Quarter horse gelding bareback in just a halter and lead rope on one side and me with a brace on my leg from recent knee surgery on a trail at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. My horse was just learning how to carry a rider so we weren’t doing anything but walking while horses & riders streamed around us. It seemed like the world was full of horses & riders having troubles, but we were serene and calm, crossed several streams gushing with spring water…strolled through forest and meadows…seemed like a dream come true…wait…it was!!! Thanks to the Parelli’s!

  5. Esther


    Thank you so much for sharing your special story – Regalo certaintly sounds like a beautiful, beautiful creature. What a gift from God to give him to you!

    Thank you so much for all that you’ve done for us.
    It was a huge honor to meet you, Pat, and Vinnie, for the first time, at the Lexington, Virginia show! It was a wonderful performance by both of you and your amazing Mastery Students!!

    Naturally and fondly,


    Dear Linda ,



    • Tracy

      Hi there Linda, This is my OH BOY moment . . .I was calmly and happily riding down the road on Gandalf-my Boulonnais (big grey draft) when myself and the following car had to stop for a narrow bridge and wait for a house-moving vehicle to come through.

      The car driver opened his window and started telling me what a beautiful horse I had and how well mannered he was, asking about his breed etc . . . then as he noticed I was riding Gandalf in a bitless crossunder bridle it all changed.

      It was like I’d committed an eternal sin. . . .The driver called me an idiot and said that it was because of people like me that horses died on the roads and he then continued swearing at me-blasted his horn and wheel spun away covering us both in grit and dust?

      Gandalf continued to behave beautifully and I kept my thoughts to myself :)

  7. C UK

    It’s a great feeling Linda!

    Just this weekend I was bringing my two ponies in from the field together. The way into my side of the barn was blocked by another horse. Its owner tried to move it, pushing and shouting at it as it moved into her pressure. I just wiggled my finger at my two, they backed straight up together and I took them round the other way. All the other horse’s owner’s sister could say was “Wow!”.

    • Angela Lent

      Sometimes the smallest sample makes the biggest impact. Very well done. You brought a smile to me.

  8. I have a 3 year old extreme rbi / lbi who goes from so in on herself that she either cant move when trying to learn something to extreme dominance of either swaggering up in the pasture to rear and strike at you or charging up and turning round and trying to kick you.
    She was unhandled when we bought her and every victory weve had, has been either a major step forward in building trust and respecting her thresh holds or in earning respect for my personal space and my leadership.
    In the pasture over the wall is a 15 year old girl who also has 2 , 3 year olds.They have been started the traditional way heads,strapped down in side reins ,lunged etc. standing on tip toes to bridle and still not being able to reach!! pulling back when unbridled with the bit still stuck between their teeth ,a real accident waiting to happen. Thats without the smacking ,shouting etc. that passes as normal and supposedly acceptable.
    After frequent updates on how far these 2 are in their education ,im then asked what my 3yr old can do or are we still doing our tricks and if i need any help getting her “going properly” her aunt would do it for me.
    Thankfully for my filly ive been able to resist this “generous” offer. As im studying in level 3/4 with my other mare, can ride bareback with just a string round her neck and a carrot stick and doing the rest of my TRICKS i know from the progress ive made that parelli, is the only way forwards.
    I may be mocked , but its my horses oppinions that counts not anyone elses.
    As my grandad used to say “and their supposed to be the dumb creatures”, makes you wonder.

  9. Cindy Smythe

    Hi Linda and everyone,
    Thanks for that special story.
    When I showed western I’d ride in spurs and a kerb (because he was a senior horse). I’d get funny comments about the cruel spurs and bit. But my boy was so well trained that I’d ride him with mostly leg. Sometimes I’d think he could read my mind.
    Unlike them hanging onto their horses constantly, with all sorts of things strapped to them.
    I could stop, roll back, lope circles with my hands behind my back :) They could hardly stop their horses with FULL force.

  10. Teri

    A few months ago, a friend who lives out of state was in my area giving dressage lessons. Besides doing Parelli with my Haflinger gelding, Max, I also drive him. I have done ridden dressage in the past, so one of my goals is to eventually do driven dressage with my horse. My friend has a varied background including driving, so I decided to take advantage of the fact she was here giving lessons and took a driving lesson from her. She teaches classical dressage straight from the Spanish Riding School and always puts the needs of the horse first. I have always valued and respected her opinions…..although sometimes her opinions are pretty strong.

    While I was waiting for my lesson to start, all of a sudden, out of nowhere, she launched a full blown attack on “Parelli b__ s__.” I was dumbfounded. I knew she wasn’t crazy about me doing Parelli… but OMG, this was awful! You’d have thought that Pat was the devil himself…and I was a devil worshipper! Then, to make matters worse, the owner of the barn joined in! YIKES! I finally made a few feeble attempts to defend Pat and the Parelli program, but soon realized it was falling on deaf ears. It seemed anything I said only fueled their fire. I thought about loading my horse and going home, but for some reason, I didn’t.

    We had decided that I would just ground drive Max so that I wouldn’t have to bother with loading and unloading my carriage. When we were ready to start, I asked if it was OK to do the lesson with Max in his halter or if she wanted him in a bridle. She said the halter was OK “as long as you can control him.” I assured her that he would be fine. So, I clipped two 22′ lines onto his halter (she wasn’t quite sure what to think of that… especially dragging the ends behind me!) and we got started. Bless his heart, Max was a perfect angel! My LBI, dominant, pre-Parelli “you can’t make me” horse….was light, responsive, and very willing to try everything she threw at him. I never had to go beyond a phase 1 or 2 for anything! (What was that you said about control???) When we finished the lesson, I tossed the lines across his back (criss crossed) and he walked like a little lamb beside us to the gate, clear at the other end of the very large arena. He stood there patiently at liberty until I’d gathered all my ‘stuff’ and then I led him out the gate. We were in a strange place, and by now it was dark outside, but he followed me calmly to the trailer and hopped inside to go home. (Before Parelli, he was a very reluctant traveler.)

    I felt like screaming…did you see any of that??? But I knew it would only bring on another attack. I’m certain my friend had no idea of the significance of what had just happened…. or that it even occurred to her what a willing partner he’d just been …and if she did, that it wasn’t because of “traditional” methods. It was all pure “Parelli B.S.”

    • Julie

      I enjoyed your story very much but it enforces my opinion that people only see what they want to see. I have done a lot of the Parelli games with my horse and as a result he is a joy to handle but, people just think I am lucky! I think too with horses, a lot of people think they are “good” because they can stay on their badly behaved unresponsive horse and boast about how sharp the horse is and how that somehow makes them good!!! They don’t realise how much time you take to achieve a good relationship and probably have no idea whatsoever the joy of riding a responsive soft horse who cooperates with your finest aids. Maybe your “friend” did see this but don’t people hate to admit they are wrong. I find the Parelli system TOTALLY in accord with dressage training done in a polite considerate way.

      Best wishes, Julie

      • I’ve had much the same experience… my horse is extremely well-mannered and docile, and I always get remarks on how good she is and how lucky I am to have her (which I’d never disagree with!). But everyone we encounter acts as if it’s just the luck of the draw — that her innate personality is calm and steady and all I had to do with it was picking the right horse. And it just isn’t the case. I wish they could’ve seen her when I started working with my brand new horse: a 10-year-old mustang who’d never been handled by humans, who’d been rounded up and starved nearly to death then shipped to a new place only to become the bottom horse in the pecking order. We still struggle a lot and have a long way to go, but the horse I have today is not at all the horse I started with, and the credit for that goes to a lot of time, a lot of patience, and all the savvy I’ve been able to muster. She used to be an unconfident, afraid, flighty bolter who would take the first opportunity to flee, and I can point to several particular things that I learned from Parelli that transformed our relationship completely.

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