Thursday, February 10, 2011

PNH Blogging #21 - Criticism you have about the PNH program

As much I love PNH and am grateful for everything it's given me, there are some things I would like to see changed. The biggest being the hyper-focus on the Parelli Centers, with the problems people experience at home being dismissed out of hand. Look, I think the Centers are wonderful and beautiful, but unrealistic for most people. I also think the scholarship program is a fantastic idea and commend the Parelli company for doing it. But it kinda leaves the rest of us feeling a little high and dry.

Because most horsemanship-type questions are so easily answered at the Centers, I think it's easy to forget the 99% of students who don't have that access. Even the hotline doesn't always come through. It helped me with some issue that Royal and I had, mainly pertaining to saddling, but sometimes the advice just doesn't work. They can't observe your interaction with your horse and that can really be the "tell" in your issue. It often feels like the material goes from A and jumps straight to J, with the rest of us wondering about Steps B-I. And sometimes, I'm not sure I especially like Step J.

The last DVD (January) really drove home this issue for me. It mainly showed Pat with the Proteges and Mastery students at the Performance Summit. It's the finished product, without the steps to get there. The Western portion was pretty intuitive, but the English was kinda scary. Now, I'm no equitation princess. I would get laughed out of the Maclay regionals, but I am a stickler for harmony and balance. And I never saw it in that portion. The rider were frequently jumped out of the saddle, pulled on their horses mouths, and just seemed disharmonious. I will fully admit I can't jump 3'6" fences (yet) but I feel it's really important to make sure you and your horse are together when jumping, and I just didn't see that in that segment. Maybe it was an off-day for the riders but I don't want to jump like that. I tried jumping like that, and got thrown off repeatedly. I had to draw on my previous jumping experience (which was little), Holly Hugo-Vidal's "Build Confidence Over Fences" book and Jimmy Wofford's technique of looking at the jump until it disappears between your horse's ears and then looking up. Then I was able to finally get my timing and balance right. Since then, jumping has been both simpler and more fun, because I feel safe.

I bring this up because I recently had a conversation with a Parelli Instructor in which I pointed out that passing Level 3 and 4 requires jumping fences of a significant height, and there is currently NO information about jumping readily available in the Savvy Club. The last time the Parellis did anything related to jumping was in 2003 with the "Jumping with Confidence" DVD. I was able to get a copy off of eBay, but it didn't help me a whole lot. A newer student probably doesn't know about that DVD and may not be able to find it. I mentioned this to the Instructor and was told the only important thing was not falling off. Well, that was exactly my problem. I was able to solve it, and my horse and I are much better for it, but the dismissiveness got to me. It was no more helpful than "Do what the horse does". Nice principle, but the execution requires a bit more detail.

I'm sure people at the Centers who have problems with jumping can get all the help they need, but me in Minnesota is up a creek without a paddle. Luckily, I had the resources needed and have been successful so far, but not everyone knows where to look. If Parelli isn't going to give the answers, I think they should be able to admit that and point out people who do. And be more patient with those of us who like/need Steps B-I fleshed out.


2/14/11 Edit - I've changed my stance of Parelli-style jumping somewhat after seeing photos of one of the riders on the DVD. She and I have damn near the same style, and on re-watching that segment, I was harsh on her. I think she was probably nervous riding in front of a huge crowd; I know I would be. I still think the other rider was out of balance most of the time, but at least one Parelli protege has very good style, if I do say so myself. ;)


  1. You have touched on one of my criticisms of the program as well. I think this program is really really good at foundation but now that they are moving into some of the competition and show arenas the teaching is lacking on how to get there. In my opinion as people progress in their riding and certainly if they want to compete in any discipline they are going to have to supplement this program with an instructor in that field OR as you said have the resources to go to one of the campuses. One of the things happening in the horses world is that people are starting to enter a more public eye with their Parelli horses but they have not been given all the finishing touches and therefore make whole program look bad even the foundation is there and just polish is needed. I hope this made sense but you obviously touched one something I've been thinking about.

  2. Thank you for the kind words. :) I'm considering taking a few "polish" lessons with Royal this summer to make sure we can really shine at events. I'm going to stay true to Parelli principles, but it would be better if they had some competition-knowledgeable Instructors. Can't have everything, I suppose.