Category Archives: Remmer

Recalling My Dream

Dear Friends,

I had a wonderful play with my horses today, the first since we arrived in Pagosa last week.  Things are just starting to get green and there is still snow on the mountain tops, just gorgeous.  Our crew is busy getting the ranch (campus) ready for the summer and Pat has his sleeves rolled up and is making lots of changes.  Vinny is in dachshund heaven with lots of mole holes everywhere… I have to keep him on a leash when we go outside because he won’t come when I call!  His instincts take over and he frantically digs and tears at holes hoping to find a prize in there so I’ve got to put a fence up around the house to contain him here!

Back to my ride, after a short session in the little arena behind my house (the one you’ve seen on many of our DVDs with the gorgeous Russian Sage bushes – which are just sticks right now!), Remmer was tuned in and ready to go.  So I mounted up and turned Allure loose to follow and went for a ride from my house all the way over to the other side of the ranch.  Remmer is so funny, he is the most perceptive horse I’ve ever owned, noticing the tiniest changes and differences and always making sure they are not life threatening!  Our neighbors have some goats (weren’t there last summer) and he saw them from the hill almost half a mile away and was frozen in place for a good 2 minutes.

After about 40 mins of cruising around kind of like a trail ride, nice and relaxing, I headed to Arena Grande in preparation for a Savvy Club video segment we’re shooting tomorrow.  Remmer was just lovely, and as I rode home with Allure grazing and then galloping to catch up with me, I suddenly remembered a ski trip my parents took us kids on in Australia when I was about 8 years old.  We were in Perisher Valley having lunch in the hotel and there was a dramatic life-size bronze of the Man From Snowy River outside.  As I gazed out the window a woman cantered up on her horse with another horse following her at liberty.  I watched as she stopped to talk to someone and the other horse was playing around her.  I was so excited!  I was so obsessed with horses and this was like a dream… I ran out the door just as she cantered off amidst swirling clouds of snow.  I remember the gripping feeling in my heart… I was seeing something I dreamed about.

And now here I am doing just that.  Sometimes it feels unbelievable to me, the level of unity and connection I have with my horses is so special.

Is there something you always dreamed of doing with horses that you can now do?  How about sharing it with us? :)

Yours naturally,




Filed under Remmer, Vinny

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

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

Breakthroughs with Walter

Dear Friends,

Every time Walter is here it’s thought provoking and challenging! One of his mantras is, “to the limit, but not over the limit” and speaks of constantly challenging yourself to improve. If you only do what you know how to do and stay comfortable, you really don’t improve very much. So it’s funny that just when I think I have achieved something and want Walter to ‘notice’ it, he pushes me to the next boundary. It’s a good lesson in humility, because even I find myself wanting to show him what I’ve accomplished and can get a little tight because now that he’s pushing me towards the next limit, I feel that he’s only seeing me having trouble again!

Of course, the truth is he can see the changes and the improvements, but this is not a time for me to show off to him, it’s time to learn! Our time with Walter is so precious and moments like these remind me to keep focused on where I’m heading instead of trying to feed what’s apparently left of my ego (I had a big ego-ectomy the first day I did a Parelli clinic!).

So this last time I had a GREAT compliment from Walter, two in fact. :) The first was that he could see the big changes in my horse since my breakthrough in contact – I wrote a little about this to you before, but I’ve written a big article on it that will be published in the May Savvy Times magazine; and the second was that he read my article manuscript and said, “You got it. And you’ve made it so simple to understand.”

So here’s what he saw in me and Remmer on the first day of my week of lessons – Remmer was round, relaxed and ‘through’ in the contact: active hind leg, up in the back, reaching way under himself, and steady in the contact. And I was more relaxed as a rider because Remmer was doing his part – acting like a partner instead of letting me work harder than him. Of course, all the details on this are in my article! So everything was smoother, more ‘up,’ more powerful and athletic…and it was the first video tape of my lesson that I felt good about – all the others I’ve watched and learned and seen what’s wrong (as well as what has improved) but never wanted to show anyone!

Dressage is so hard to do well and to have the horse enjoy, too. My greatest breakthrough between my January and March lessons with Walter was finding the key to my horse’s mind – getting Remmer really into it instead of just being obedient. Walter’s comment was “Goooooood! You’ve been working hard since last time!” Yep, but mentally hard more than anything. I was determined to figure out the mental game of collection and contact for horses. :)

Oh, I just remembered the third big compliment while Walter was here – after reading my article he said, “maybe tomorrow I will just watch as you ride, and let you know if there is anything you can improve.” That’s HUGE! Usually he is coaching me every step, every moment. Now he believes I can feel what I’m supposed to feel, and for him to direct anything will be too late. In fact, the lesson the day before was a lot like that; he kind of stopped talking, just kept saying “goooood, gooooooood” and so I started doing things (transitions, shorter, longer, etc.) because I felt Remmer was waiting for the next thing.

I cannot wait for my next sessions, breakthroughs are so cool no matter how dark the hour is before the dawn!

Yours Naturally,


Filed under Horsemanship, Remmer


Everyday I am reminded in some way that Remmer is phenomenal!  He is such a great partner and teacher.  We’ve been together for 11 years now; he was almost 4 when I got him.  Remmer was brought to a clinic that one of our instructors was doing at our Center in Colorado.  I took one look at him jumping around, rearing and misbehaving and fell in love!  He’s playful and opinionated, and he’s taught me a lot about really using psychology.  He is a Left-Brain Introvert with a medium-high spirit.

Remmer’s strengths are his intelligence – he’s a fast learner, his willingness to try anything I ask and his performance at our shows.  He kicks it up a notch and it’s a lot of fun!  I’m also really excited about how we are doing in our Level 5 – 6 pursuits in Finesse with Walter Zettl.  Walter actually apologized to Remmer and me not long ago.  He said when he first saw us together he wondered how this big, heavy horse was going to do as we got more advanced in the dressage maneuvers, but he’s continually amazed at how well he’s doing and that he gets lighter, more up and more athletic all the time!  Nice compliment. :)

I think my favorite show moment with Remmer was a couple of years ago in Tucson.  We were playing at Liberty and he and I parted company.  He ran off to the side, leaping and bucking, and then we both ran to the pedestal and got on it.  I still watch that footage and laugh!  Then just recently, at our Lakeland Celebration during my session on introverts and extroverts, Remmer really cut loose and played hard.  He jumped in the air right in the middle of our play session – he was spectacular!  I know he was having fun and I love when I can see that.

Remmer’s favorite thing to do is eat!  Actually, if I make it fun he loves to do everything I love to do.  His enthusiasm for our partnership keeps on growing and I think part of that is the fact that I’m getting so much better in my horsemanship, so the better I get, the better he gets. :)

Many are curious about what our days together are like.  Well, I feed my horses myself, so no matter what I see him twice a day to feed him.  That’s always a plus for the relationship!  I don’t play with him every day when I’ve got a lot on my plate, so sometimes it’s only 2 – 3 times a week.  We play at Liberty, go for treks up to Pat’s performance barn (about a mile or so across the property), around the block sometimes – that’s all the relaxation part.  Then I play with the Finesse concepts and precision I’m learning from Walter.  Sometimes I tuck it as I’m riding around the Center, and other times I go to the arena and really focus on it.  Then it’s back to the barn, a warm hose down and dinner!

Remmer will be joining us in the UK for our NEC Celebrations.  I hope that if you are in the UK, you can come join us: .


Filed under Remmer