Category Archives: Events

Various events

Relaxation Strikes Again!

How perfect that since writing my last blog I have another opportunity to coach a student on dealing with right brain (RB) issues. In this case, Emma’s horse is RBI (right brain introvert), but goes RBE (extrovert) in front of a crowd. She had the misfortune of experiencing this last year when she applied to do a Spotlight at our Reno event… and her horse took her in another direction!

I don’t select the lesson participants at our 2010 events, so it was fun to see that Emma had been selected and of course the subject was “helping my horse deal with crowds”. She was already better since Emma had been focusing on some things she learned since then, but of course once you get back in that situation, there are still things to deal with.

I had a lot of thoughts the night before about what to do because there are a number of savvy arrows in my quiver for dealing with that kind of problem, but once with Emma and Lil I took advantage of the situation as it presented itself and tried my first idea first. It’s the concept of “and then some”… “You want to run around, you should do that… and then some”.

Emma brought her horse into the arena and it didn’t take long before Lil was running around in circles, very RB. So I asked Emma to encourage that* – not so vigorously that it could be perceived as punishment through discomfort, but to encourage it in a positive way. That feels kind of weird because every instinct we have as predators in that situation is to shut it down which actually can make it worse because it makes the hors feel wrong and claustrophobic. With this horse being Level 3 competent yet upset in a strange and very challenging circumstance, this approach can really work very well. It’s as though your horse thinks “you see, I knew we should be scared!” and that asserts your leadership in a prey animal sort of way. By sending the horse forwards and then some, it takes the adrenaline out of the system and it keeps you in the leadership role.

*(It’s important to know that if your horse is below Parelli Level 1, and if you are below Level 2, you might find this hard to do. Some approaches are more suitable for certain situations but you also have to weigh up how competent the human is and how educated the horse is – from a basic trust/partnership perspective. If you are not as advanced as this, constant and frequent disengagement is the most appropriate approaches).

So Emma encouraged Lil to go a little faster with some stimulation in Zone 5 with her Carrot Stick and Flag (plastic bag attached – which Lil had long ago learned not to fear). And go she did. I asked Emma to speed her up for a lap, then relax and see how long it took for Lil to slow down. It took an average of 3 laps. Pretty soon, it took less than that and finally Lil started asking if she could slow down and trot. It was almost difficult to get her to speed up! So we encouraged the trot, and then the walk, and soon she wanted to come in. So we invited that but if she couldn’t stand still, we gently encouraged her to move again. Not much longer and she wanted to stand still.

But that’s when her introverted side showed up! As Emma sat on the barrel (as directed by me to lower her own extroverted energy!), Lil sidled up to her, zone 3 / 4 first. That’s a major behavioral tendency of RBI horses – feeling better but not enough confidence to come over with zone 1 first. What occurred after that is what you had to be there for – the Touch It and Figure 8 Patterns were very revealing! At this moment, we are working on getting the complete video-taped lesson up on to the Savvy Club Vault. It won’t happen right away, please be patient, it will be there and we’ll let you know. Same with the wonderful lesson Pat gave, which was the exact opposite of mine! Erin needed to learn how to get more assertive with her husband’s LBE/I!

Here’s the great news… first of all, go to Emma’s blog about what happened on Sunday and even better, the breakthrough she discovered after the fact. And secondly, here is a wonderful email I got from a Level 3-4 student who is also a nurse:


First of all, it was a great weekend; it just went by too quickly….

So, today I went to work. I don’t know if you remember that I am a nurse and I currently work in the post anesthesia care unit (PACU). I was caring for an elderly gentleman today. He had some Parkinsons disease and had surgery for a bowel obstruction. No small feat for a man of 81.

Anyway, he was quite confused after the sedatives began to wear off and became very combative. It always amazes me that these little elderly people suddenly have superman strength when they are confused! There were literally 4 of us holding him down and trying to keep him from pulling out his IV etc…

I was thinking to myself, this poor guy is in fight or flight mode right now and his brain synapses are firing a million times per minute. He is so on adrenaline…I asked everyone to stop fighting him.

He had my hand in a death grip and was thrashing his arm back and forth, so I just started moving with him instead of against him.Then I started moving his arm a little faster than he wanted to go. Within about 15 seconds, he stopped fighting and became calm. He did this a few more times until he finally was able to cooperate a bit more and at that point we were able to reorient him a bit. His baseline was slightly confused but not out of control.

I thought Oh my gosh! All animals are wired similarly when that fight or flight kicks in. Then I thought, maybe I need to get to that extern program sooner. I am treating my patients like the horses! Hehe

So, now I have one more thing to add to my What Parelli has permeated in my life list!

Talk to you soon,



Filed under Events, Horsemanship, Teaching

Texas Event… done!

Dear Friends,

As I write we’re enroute from Texas to Pagosa Springs for the summer, stopping tonight in New Mexico to visit the folks who gave us Vinny.  By the way, check out Vinny’s new t-shirt, Texas T that is!  Sue Lynn gave it to him “so he’ll always be a little bit Texan” – it even says “Vinny” on it – don’t know if you can see that.  I took a photo of him in it at the rest stop we were at for lunch.

Vinny's Texas T!

We had a great weekend in Beaumont, TX and visited with a lot of Savvy Club members and newcomers to Parelli.  I love hearing your transformational stories and thanks for making me cry and then wanting a photo!!  Our horses were super – Remmer is always wonderful for me – and Pat’s horses were spectacular when he rode one and had two others connected with him, one on each side.  He also had his future star “Revlon” appear before a crowd for the first time, which she handled really well.  Other highlights for me were Pat helping his son Caton get through his horse’s cantering issue in front of the crowd, the spotlights with some of Pat’s mastery students on Saturday, the Gold Summit connections on Monday, and the lessons with Pat and with me on Sunday!

Pat helped Barry, a young Texas cowboy who wants to train horses the natural way.  He had a lovely, athletic palomino gelding that he has taken to Level 3 and competes on in roping, among other things.  Pat helped him to slow down, to have some ‘silence between the notes’ which helps create music rather than just noise.  So he started on the ground and then went on to riding, doing less to get more and helping his horse to put more weight on his hindquarters when going into the canter.  Super stuff and Barry won all our hearts with the way he touched his horse and talked about him, apologizing for how he used to be… and how he chose Parelli because it was the only program that used Love, Language and Leadership to train horses.  He said his wife talked him into applying for the lesson and having that experience and watching the weekend only deepened his belief in and respect for the program.

My lesson was with Lisa, who wanted help with being a better leader and whose Left Brain Introvert (LBI) had trailer loading issues.  She would play with trailer all week, but after going somewhere he would not reload and people would end up helping and stuffing him in… which of course brought him back to square one again.

After starting with some leadership techniques, such as having a plan and directing Zone 1 better in the Touch It pattern and moving her horse’s feet before she moved her own, Lisa started looking pretty good!  Then we went to the trailer and did some Touch It with Zone 1, 3 and 4.  That was interesting and further improved Lisa’s technique.  After that is was half circles around the trailer, and finally Yo-Yo’s in and out working on the thresholds:  “come out… go in…. come out…. go in”.

I stepped in at a couple of points to help with the timing, but Lisa was doing a great job.  Buddy really was afraid, but being LBI it was hard for Lisa to read his fear.  I explained that when unconfident, LBIs will go RBI first, and that he wasn’t being stubborn or defiant and that’s why he was still having trouble despite all her practice.  He would go in out of obedience, but it really was not his idea and he was not confident.  So we allowed him to set the pace and each time he reached a threshold we would bring him out and ask him to try again… and when he crossed it in even the smallest way, we would allow him to stay there for a little bit.

By the end of the session he was ‘in’ the trailer, but he was not yet ‘wanting’ to be in, so we reconvened after the show – a number of people stayed to watch – and things went really quickly then.  Buddy was in the trailer within a few minutes and now we worked on thresholds going deeper inside (it was a long trailer!).  We finished with Buddy standing confidently way deep inside and then played approach and retreat with the door until he was relaxed about that too.

Here are some of the BIGGIES that the audience ‘got’:

1.  It has to be the horse’s idea to cross the threshold, don’t push him over it in any way or you destroy trust and confidence.

2.  Making him uncomfortable outside of the trailer only causes a horse to load into the trailer to get away from that rather than having him really want to be in the trailer.  That’s why we don’t use that approach.  It certainly would not be using Love, Language and Leadership!

2.  “The next move is his”.  So once he’s at the threshold, we WAIT until he does something – either moves forwards or wants to come out again.  And if he stays there too long, we bring him out and simply ask him to reapproach.

3.  Never push him forwards once he’s stopped, you can only encourage his thoughts otherwise you are forcing the horse.  The bottom line is that the horse has to be able to TRUST that you won’t push him “over the cliff”, that you will allow it to be his decision to go there.  When you can do that, your horse will try his heart out for you.  He will trust you and feel safe with you, and the effects will be felt in everything else you do with him too.  Anyone can force a horse to get in, the real art is in helping him to develop the confidence to load himself.  Such fun, I love this stuff.

4.  It really, TRULY, is NOT ABOUT THE TRAILER!  It’s all about the trust your horse has for you as his leader.

Our next event is in Oregon.  I’m looking forward to seeing you there, meeting new horse lovers and seeing who we have for our lessons on Savvy Club Sunday.

Keep it natural,



Filed under Events, Horsemanship, Teaching, Vinny

On the road home from Lexington…

Dear Friends,

Our first event of the year went very well. The team was super-organized, even quickly remedying a computer crash as the doors opened, and the horse crew had all the horses ready for the big entrance.

This year we decided to do something very different, to start with horses as being horses, and turned them all loose in the arena to play for 15 minutes before Pat came in. It was very cool as you could see them playing dominance games, separating into groups within the herds and keeping the ‘strangers’ at bay. Pat came in and talked about what they were doing, pointed out the different games they played with each other.

Then Pat called in his group of mastery students and they sent the horses galloping around the arena to the fabulous John Denver song “Eagles and Horses,” performed by The Killens, who also produce many of our DVDs and TV shows. It was spectacular, and then spell-binding as each student in turn stepped out and called their horse back to them. What a great way to start, to show horses in their natural state and then partnering up with humans.

My session with Remmer was next up. I love to tell my story about the difficulties I was having that drew me to Pat Parelli for help. My favorite line is, “You can imagine how desperate this dressage rider had to be to go to a cowboy for advice!” Then Remmer comes in, I tell a little about how he came into my life and then we play. But here’s the part I really want to tell you about – the Friday before the event!

While we were driving to Virginia, Pat asked me what I was going to do. I said I wasn’t really sure yet, so he said he thought I should ride bareback, with a halter, and jump the picnic tables and barrels like I so often would do. The only problem was…I hadn’t done that in over a year!!! Uh oh, now Friday was going to be about figuring out if I could do that or not!

First, I played with Remmer on the ground; and I take it really slow and easy, don’t ask too much. (I’ve learned that because one time I asked for a lot and the next day he didn’t offer me a thing!) So we looked like we were doing a lot of nothing. I didn’t even jump him. Then I got on, bareback and in the halter, and what happened next was awful! Walking was fine, but as soon as I went into a trot, I was bouncing all over the place. So I figured I was just rusty from not riding bareback for such a long time, so I asked for the canter. Well, he wouldn’t canter! I asked again and he cantered, and sure enough I ruffled the hairs on his back. No wonder he didn’t want to canter he knew what was coming! Yuk. Hmmm. What was I doing wrong? Suddenly I realized that I was riding him as I had been practicing so hard this past few years in getting back to dressage, I was all ‘collected’ in my body and yet that was not what I was expecting him to do. So I changed my focus, settled back onto my balance point, loosened my legs and everything changed. We cruised around, took the canter easily, everything felt wonderful.

Now, the jump! I slid off and sent Remmer over the upright barrels to see how he would take it – he didn’t even hesitate which was great because I hadn’t jumped him since his abscess back in October/November last year. So I got on, cantered off, headed to the barrels and sailed over with him. That was it. I got off and gave him some cookies.

When it came to our performance on the Saturday morning, everything went beautifully. We were in perfect harmony and as we approached the picnic tables (which we didn’t do on Friday) I could suddenly see that we were half a stride out. Remmer saw it at the same time and I felt him sizing up the jump and checking in with me, but I mentally told him “it’s your call,” either take off early or pop in half a stride. Remmer was feeling great so he took off early and we did this HUGE jump over them. Oh my gosh! I felt like one of those avatars from the movie! He landed and I looked up into the audience and laughed and then he arched and twisted into some exuberant bucks. Luckily they weren’t very big – he looks after me these days! But I pushed on his withers anyway and went with him. As we rounded the corner, there were the upright barrels and I thought “Oh well, might as well take them rather than do another circuit!” Remmer didn’t even hesitate and soared over them. On the other side we came to a walk and I dropped the reins. When I picked them up again he offered me passage so I took it and we pranced around until we got to the pedestal and he stood on it.

As I said to everyone there, “I used to dream about being able to play with horses like that,” and Remmer and I left the ring with a wonderful feeling of connection and unity. Later in my signing line I met many students who said it had brought them to tears and I told them, “Me, too.” It really moves me to have such a magnificent animal as Remmer give me, offer me, so much.

The rest of the day was super. Pat had his Mastery Students come in and demonstrate the Seven Games in 4 Levels, on the ground and riding. So much fun to see the scope of what can be achieved, where it starts and where it can go – they brought the house down!

Savvy Club Sunday was really interesting, for me especially. Pat coached a Level 3-4 student with goals of competing in cow horse events, and I coached a student who’s horse had a tendency to get very fearful and rear up. Pat ended up riding with Jason, doing Clover Leaf’s together and working on more “collection” with Yo-Yo Games played at the canter, while Patty, my student, learned how to manage her energy and maintain her focus with her horse while mastery students bounced balls, dragged tarps and rolled barrels around the arena! The end was spectacular; after I did a simulation with her to point out how she was grabbing instead of holding the rope when asking for disengagement, her horse completely changed and softened, responding to the slightest suggestion from her.

In the last session I gave a demonstration of my latest breakthrough with Remmer in the Game of Contact. He was incredible – round, powerful, enthusiastic. Students and instructors who have known Remmer and watched him over the years could not believe the transformation in him. Even his body looks different, he looks more like an athlete. That was pretty exciting for me, and the first time I’d talked about this and demonstrated it in public. :)

Then the Gold Summit Monday – a more intimate day with Gold Savvy Club members who asked lots of questions, dined with us and got some peeks into the future. I also had some photographs up on screen so I could point out posture issues when it came to discussing the finer points of fluidity.

And now we’re on the way home. I didn’t want to tell you all the details of what went on, but I thought you might find it fun to know that it was a little challenging for me at first!

Best of all, it is always so wonderful to connect with you all in person. Even though we don’t necessarily all get to talk, I see your familiar faces and love your smiles and enthusiasm as you get new ideas or are re-motivated to take your horsemanship to the next level.

How does it go? Good better best, NEVER let it rest!

Maybe some of you can tell me what you learned over the weekend? Tell me one thing that was an “AHA!” for you.

Yours naturally,


Filed under Events, Horsemanship, Remmer

On the road to Lexington

Dear Friends,

Pat and I are currently on the road to Lexington, VA for our event this weekend. People have asked me before, “What do you do to prepare for a show?” and that question was on my mind as I sat down to write today.

The best thing about doing our shows is that I don’t “practice.” My role is to be real, to show what it is I do every day and can do at a moment’s notice. I don’t think of this as a performance, I think of it as a time to showcase the relationship I have developed with my horses (in this case, Remmer). So what you’ll see is me playing with him, talking about my difficult background with a dangerous horse, how Parelli changed things, our history (how Remmer came into my life), what it means to put the relationship first and how achievable this is for ANYONE.

One of the things people have told me they love is seeing when things go wrong, and Remmer and I can do that! In performance situations things always go wrong in some way, but you have to cover it up. And unless you really know what to look for, most people don’t even notice…but the rider does, and the horse especially does! So what I do is keep it all open and transparent. I want people to see the flaws and to know what to do when it happens, to not fake it for the horse or for the audience. In fact, over the years, that is what I get the most ‘thanks’ for…for being real, for showing what happens in reality and not being so ‘perfect.’ Perfection is an illusion…and horses hate it! We need to learn to be perfectly in the moment, to be ready to adjust for the horse in whatever way is required to keep him safe, confident, engaged, playful and connected.

Remmer and I are doing some awesome things. Our relationship is the best it has ever been, and we’re also able to do some pretty advanced things both on the ground and riding. So I revel in that, but even more importantly, I’m always thinking about how I can make the next person’s journey even better and even easier.

Hope to see you in Lexington,


Filed under Events, Remmer

Getting Ready for Lexington!

Dear Friends,

It’s so exciting to be heading to Lexington, VA for our first Parelli Across America event this weekend. Last year we restricted our events to Savvy Club members only, but this year we are opening again to the public and there are a LOT of people signed up to be there!

We’ve called Day 1 “Share Parelli” because we are going to share what the Parelli Program is all about – developing savvy with horses in 4 distinct areas: On Line (with varying lengths of line), Liberty (the round corral and beyond), FreeStyle (riding without contact) and Finesse (riding with contact). It is such a complete program and it’s hard for people to really know what it encompasses – even though there are hundreds of thousands of people doing this all over the world! So we have a great program in mind for this, better than we’ve ever done before (in my opinion anyway!).

Day 2 is called “Savvy Club Sunday.” It is for members only, and that includes brand new members. This is where we get more personal and interactive. Pat will do something that shows what he’s been working on (a glimpse of the future for sure) and I will show the new breakthroughs I have with Remmer. Then both Pat and I will coach a student – at different times of course! Pat will work with a Level 3 – 4 and beyond student and I will work with anyone! So I don’t know what I have in store yet, but it could be Level 1-2, 3-4, solving problems, etc. I can’t wait :) For sure you will see something that really speaks to where you or your horse are at and how you can improve your approach or your horse’s connectivity and enthusiasm.

Day 3 is a Savvy Summit, for Savvy Club Gold members. We decided to feature them at each event so they would be more accessible. This is an opportunity for us to get into smaller, more intimate situations and discuss personally topical subjects as well as visions of the future – little things like changing the world! :)

As we head out on Wednesday, Pat and I will be focusing on all the details of how to make this our best show yet. And, of course, Vinny will be there!

Yours Naturally,

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Filed under Events

Lakeland Celebration

The Lakeland Celebration was fantastic.  Right from the get-go, our audience was one of our most interactive, vocal and enthusiastic in the whole tour.  Reina, the HSUS rescue horse was fascinating, she’s a LB-Extrovert whose dignity had been shattered, so she was really defensive and appeared aggressive when Pat went to mount her.  Up until then she’d been doing great, but when it came time to ride, she could not give permission and had zero trust.  Watching Pat transform her opinion was fascinating and the true mark of natural horsemanship.  The next day Reina was completely different.  What Pat can do in 30 minutes takes most of us 30 hours, weeks or months!

The best part is that Reina was adopted by one of our top student’s younger brother and Pat offered to take Reina for 2 weeks to make sure he’d gotten her over the ‘hump’.

Remmer was outrageous this weekend – so motivated, exuberant, and playful… like I’ve never seen him before!  Allure’s hind legs were stocked up on Saturday so instead of taking him into my session on extroverts and introverts, I asked if I could use Lauren’s new horse Westpoint.  He’s just like Allure and showed off for Left Brain-Extroverts!  Playing with him was so much fun and I was able to demonstrate that if you encourage a LB-E to do what he wants, pretty soon he’s interested in what you want.  And presto… it worked again ;)

And my lesson with Walter Zettl went well.  People told me how much they enjoyed it and said they could tell how far we’d come.  But it’s hard for me to feel that because I’m so busy doing what Walter tells me to do and struggling with my fluidity and communication with Remmer under the circumstances!  For sure I felt some really super moments in our developing pirouettes, piaffe-passage transitions and flying changes.  Phew!

The Savvy Spotlights were, once again, inspiring and very impressive.  The standard here in Florida is very good, we had entries from Georgia and the Carolinas too.  Pat stepped in and helped a few whose horses got quite Right-Brained about being in front of a 1000+ people, and of course we all love that because it’s highly educational – a lesson with Pat!

Finally watching Lauren ride her upcoming star, Westpoint, was breathtaking… and her Olympic story is always riveting and a good tear-jerker. She’s quite a role model.


Filed under Events