Support staff, volunteers, and disabled individuals in building their horsemanship skills
I just returned from the PATH conference in Orlando. I was asked by Richard and Shannon Knapp to be on call for the gaps in the arena. I was happy to help but had no idea what a powerful experience it would be. Your connection with your horses brought me to tears! I am so humbled by the dance that I witnessed with you and your horses. I just wanted to let you know that you were the talk of the conference. Everyone wanted to know how you connected so intimately with your horses. Parelli is new to most of PATH. It is such a life changer and I am so grateful that you demonstrated it so brilliantly. You made me cry …a good cry. I am going home to study more Parelli to deepen the relationship with our program horses. I want to talk the same language that you have learned. Thank you so much for the inspiration.
With Blessings, Debbie Anderson Strides to Success
Parkinson Awarded 2013 D Rich Gaited Horse Versatility Scholarship
Jeannie Parkinson’s brother hooked her on the Parelli way when he took her out to his pasture to show her some “cool things” he could do with his horse. He had been dabbling with the Parelli program for a few years. This encounter awakened her childhood dream of desperately wanting a horse.
As a little girl, she had prayed every night that a horse would be in her yard in the morning. While that dream never came to pass, her neighbors graciously allowed her to hang around their horses and that had sufficed – for awhile.
Parkinson instantly fell in love with the Parelli program, thanks to her older brother’s encouragement, reigniting her desire to have a horse. But she faced one problem. She had to figure out a way to fit a horse into her city slicker lifestyle. College, a marriage, and raising her children had taken top priority. But, with strong determination, she managed to purchase her first horse – at age 40.
Parkinson’s horse of choice? A Missouri Foxtrotter – the smooth gaits and her easy going temperament were all it took to convince her this was the horse – her horse. Ashley. Immediately, she and Ashley became involved in the Parelli program. Parkinson’s love for the program grew as they completed each task. She grew confident in the bond that was growing between herself and her horse.
“I began to notice how Ashley seemed so glad to see me every day.”
But, life happens. With the passing of time and normal life interruptions, Parkinson became frustrated with the slowing of progress with her horse.
On a cold January day, she acted impulsively. Visiting the Parelli website, she signed up for the fast track. She had no idea of how she was going to pay for it, but at that moment, she knew that she would give the program her all. How to pay for it? That would come later. She and her horse began to progress in their journey through the fast track and their bond grew with their knowledge.
One of the most rewarding moments with her horse happened when a friend who owned a video production company asked Parkinson if she had any unusual ideas for photographing her riding Ashley. They decided to head out to Utah Lake with the thought of the pair riding through the water bridleless and bareback. It was a very cold October day, but Parkinson trusted that Ashley would be calm and connected with her requests.
The photo shoot was magical. All that was asked of Ashley, she gave with exuberance and cooperation. The final result – a beautiful backdrop of snow on the mountains and riding on the beach – bareback and bridleless – with a breathless connection.
After completing the fast track of the Parelli program, Parkinson was convinced of one thing. She wanted to help others continue their journey, especially those working with gaited horses. She saw their frustration in trying to interface the stereotyped beliefs regarding gaited horses with the expectations of the Parelli program. She knew first-hand that gaited horses could succeed with the Parelli tenets. Parkinson began studying gaited horses more intensely.
And she did something else. She applied for the Parelli 2013 Externship program, again with no idea of how to pay for it. Fortunately, a generous benefactor, Dan Richards, had seen the work of the Parelli program, developed a deep appreciation of it, and contacted the Institute to see how he could help in promoting the Parelli way. The result – the establishment of the D Rich Gaited Horse Versatility Scholarship. Parkinson applied immediately and was awarded the $1500 Scholarship. She would be able to participate in the Externship program.
After three months of participating in the Parelli Education Institute Externship, Parkinson says her knowledge base has increased.
“My understanding of making sure a great foundation is established with your horse before moving forward in the program became evident. I learned where there were some holes in my foundation. Two wonderful ‘ah-ha’ moments became evident, giving significance to my journey. An effective phase 4 with an attitude of justice is necessary for my horses to see me as a true leader, and rewarding the slightest try, even a 1% try, is important. WOW! I realized I was expecting too much and I had created a barrier in our relationship by not giving her enough of a release in between.. . . The wonderful lead instructor, Maurice Thiabaul and assistant Susan Nelson, were a very positive asset to PEI. I gained an enormous amount of knowledge and emotional fitness. . .”
Parkinson is already paying it forward with what she has learned from her experience in the Parelli Externship program. She has volunteered to coordinate the gaited horse Parelli program in Utah. She hopes to show gaited horse riders that they don’t need to feel limited by stereotyped images of their horses in the Parelli Levels program. It is possible to teach the gaited horse to be balanced and straight. The gaits will come but the foundation has to be there first.
Parkinson is also volunteering as an equine specialist for 2-4 hours per week at an Equine Assisted Therapy program in Salt Lake City, Utah with Jolene McDowell’s program. She is amazed at how the troubled clients learn to communicate with the horses, opening lines of communication during the counseling sessions, and how the clients bond with their horses, developing trust – perhaps for the first time in their lives.
“My gratitude is overflowing for the direction Parelli Natural Horsemanship has given me in my life. The philosophies for life outside of horses are far-reaching. The program is much more than a horse training program for me. It is also a very powerful “people” training program.”
Horses are increasingly used as facilitators in variety of therapies. They provide fun, rhythmic exercise for children with physical and learning disabilities, help veterans cope with post-traumatic stress disorder, and offer teens a way to improve their communication and social skills without passing judgment or leveraging peer pressure.
The Institute will provide and fund education for therapeutic horsemanship program staff and volunteers, and support opportunities for individuals with disabilities to build their horsemanship skills.
“Horses are dang good therapy for people.”…Pat Parelli
Therapeutic Clinic Kickoff Event
I’ve begun volunteer work for a local EAGALA/PATH certified organization after the PEI Therapeutic Clinic and am loving this path! I’ve begun creating a volunteer program for them and will begin a horse program this weekend. I really can’t say enough about how wonderful that clinic was and I’m so grateful to have been able to learn from Shannon and Donna and all the facilitators and participants. Being in that space with so many wonderful people who are drawn to equine therapy (along with the therapeutic professionals who joined us) was enlightening and inspiring. I plan to continue pursuing this path, as it really offers me purpose. – Cryshtal, Hawaii
2012 Winner of a $10,000 Therapeutic-Focused Scholarship
Update! A generous organization donated $10,000 for a directed scholarship toward a student involved in therapeutic horsemanship. Here’s an update from the scholarship winner, Pam Bilinge, who is promoting therapeutic application of Parelli Natural horsemanship principles in Europe.
She has established a base for Equest in Wiltshire and completed delivering a 2-day leadership development experience to top leaders of a national organization. The program is designed using Parelli philosophy as its foundation and includes many PNH principles and includes almost 2 full days outside with the horses with some review time in the classroom. She is working very closely with Sarah Wearing on this project. Sarah is a Level 4 Parelli graduate and 2* junior instructor.
Pam is also running a 6-day training program for qualified psychotherapists and mental health practitioners in her approach to therapeutic application of horsemanship called Horse Led Therapy. This program is based on a combination of PNH and Somatic Psychotherapy.
The second module of this training program is a one-day course called Horse as Therapist, which focuses on many of the Parelli principles and education.
“This event was the first step in a dream I’ve had for years, since first encountering Parelli and Therapeutic Horsemanship, to bring together two areas that at first glance seem disparate but are actually deeply intertwined in significant ways. The changes our clients have made at Horse Sense, integrating Parelli into every aspect of their healing, has and continues to be a pleasure to watch!” – Shannon Knapp, Horse Sense of the Carolinas
More than a Mirror
Shannon Knapp has just completed her most recent book, More Than a Mirror: Horses, Humans and Therapeutic Practices, specifically addressing the role of the horse in EAP/EAL practices, and the role(s) of the Horse Professional. Shannon is EAGALA Advanced Certified, a Parelli Level 2 graduate and is the author of the book, Horse Sense Business Sense, Volume 1, an introduction to starting and running your own Horse Therapy & Learning practice, as well as numerous other resources for Horse Therapy & Learning practices. In addition, Shannon is a Graduate Advisor for Prescott College’s Equine Assisted Learning Masters program, & offers consulting services to those interested in starting their own Horse Therapy & Learning business.