Parelli Theory / Study

The Parelli Method of horse training teaches expertise and success with horses based on the way horses relate and communicate in their natural world – hence the term “natural horsemanship.”

The natural approach to horse training is effective with all horse[s]... It’s been embraced worldwide by horsemen and women of all disciplines and skill levels, from first-time beginners to international competitors and Olympic medalists.

The Parelli method allows horse lovers at all levels and disciplines to achieve success without force, partnership without dominance, teamwork without fear, willingness without intimidation, and harmony without coercion.


The Responsibilities:
For the Human:
1. Don't act like a predator  
2. Have an independent seat  
3. Think like a horse  
4. Use the natural power of focus    
For the Horse:
1. Don't act like a prey animal  
2. Maintain gait  
3. Maintain direction  
4. Look where you're going

The Principles:
1. Horsemanship is natural
2. Don't make or teach assumptions
3. Communication is two or more individuals sharing and understanding an idea
4. Horses and humans have mutual responsibilities
5. The attitude of justice is effective
6. Body language is the universal language
8. Principles, purpose, and time are the tools of teaching

Things to Know:
1. Three systems of a horse: Respect, Impulsion, Flexion
2. Four stages of learning: Teaching, Controlling, Reinforcing, Refining
3. Levels of competence: Unconsciously incompetent, Consciously incompetent, Consciously competent, Unconsciously competent

Thirteen Things to be Done with Excellence:
1. Catching
2. Haltering/un-haltering
3. Picking up all 4 feet
4. Saddling
5. Trailer Loading
6. Bridling/Unbridling
7. Mounting/Dismounting
8. Nine Step Back Up
9. Soft Feel at Halt
10. Lateral Flexion
11. Direct Rein
12. Indirect Rein
13. Supporting/Fixed Rein

Keys to Success:
1. Attitude
2. Knowledge
3. Tools
4. Technique
5. Time
6. Imagination
7. Support 

10 Qualities of a Horseman:
1) Heart & Desire
2) Respect
3) Impulsion
4) Flexion
5) Attitude
6) Feel
7) Timing
8) Balance
9) Savvy
10) Experience

Pat Parelli's 45 P's:
Pat Parelli Proudly Presents his Provocative and Progressive Programs and the proclamation that Prior and Proper Preparation Prevents P-Poor Performance, Particularly if Polite and Passive Persistence is Practiced in the proper position. This Perspective takes Patience from Process to Product, from Principle to Purpose. The Promise that Pat Plans to Prove is that Practice does not make Perfect, only Perfect Practice makes Perfect and, isn’t it Peculiar how these poor Prey animals Perceive People as predators prior to practicing the Parelli Programs.

Four Relationship Killers:
1. Chauvinism
2. Autocratic
3. Anthropomorphic
4. Direct Line Thinking

5 Step Lead Change Ladder:
1. Confidence & Relaxation
2. Canter-Walk Transitions
3. Counting 5 Strides
4. Swing Shoulders
5. Serpentines

6 Steps to Collection:
1. Rhythm
2. Relaxation
3. Contact
4. Schwung / Impulsion 
5. Straightness
6. Suppleness

3 Reasons to Play On-Line:
1. To teach your horse something
2. To teach yourself something 
3. To prepare for something

The Three "R's":
1. Rhythm
2. Relaxation
3. Retreat

The Three Laws of Parelli:
1. Put the relationship first
2. Foundation before specialization
3. Make a commitment to never ending self improvement

Strategies for Impulsion:
1. Long horses (tendency for more go than whoa) need circles
2. Short horses (tendency for more whoa than go) need straight lines

The Correct Order for Impulsion:
1. Mind
2. Flexion
3. Weight
4. Feet

Rein Positions:
1. Direct
2. Indirect
3. Lateral Flexion
4. Casual
5. Concentrated
6. Supporting
7. Control
8. Suspension
9. Jingle Bell
10. Steady
11. Fixed
12. Partial Disengagement
13. Butterfly
12. Bunny Rabbit

What the Different Horsenalities Need:
1. RBE = Safety, "Focus me"
2. RBI = Comfort, "Be gentle with me"
3. LBI = Incentive, "What's in it for me"
4. LBE = Motivation/Fun, "Play with me"

Beats in a Gait & Weight Distribution:
1. Walk, 4 beats, 60% of weight on FQ
2. Trot, 2 beats, 50% of weight on FQ
3. Canter, 3 beats, 40% of weight on FQ
4. Gallop, 4 beats, 51 - 70% of weight on FQ 
5. Back Up, 2 beats, 49 - 30% of weight on FQ

Reasons to Shim:
1. Scapula clearance 
2. Muscle atrophy 
3. Riders balance point

Consistency vs. Variety:
1. The ratio of 80% to 20% should be applied to everything you do with your horse
2. On-line 80% of the time, Liberty 20%
3. Freestyle 80% of the time, Finesse 20%

Phases On-line: 
1. Porcupine / Yielding to a Feel: Hair, Skin, Muscle, Bone
    Think: Fly, Mosquito, Blackbird, Eagle
2. Yo-Yo: Finger/Look, Wrist, Forearm, Arm
3. Circling: Lead, Lift, Swing, Tag (behind Z5)

Phases Freestyle:
1. Going: Smile, Squeeze, Smooch, Spank (the air, then the hair)
2. Stopping: Quit, Lift, Hold, Bend
3. Turning: Eyes, Bellybutton, Legs, Rein/Stick

The Parelli Formula:
1. Rapport, Respect, Impulsion, Flexion
    "Develop forwards, fix backwards"

Parelli Formula extra:
The Rapport is in his heart, the Respect is in his head, the Impulsion is in his emotions, the Flexion is in his body.

5 Areas of Confidence:
1. Leader
2. Themselves
3. Herd
4. Environment
5. Learner
*Remember it as L-THE-L

Parelli Core Values: 

 Put the Relationship First
• whether with your horse, partner, family, co-workers, customers, vendors, or business partners
• use open, honest & respectful language (non-violent communication)

Be the Best Me That I Can Be
 • pursue a positive perspective
• be impeccable with your word
• be solutionary
• don’t take things personally

Get it Done, with a Little Fun
(Create Fun with Individuality)
• celebrate individuality – you are free to be yourself
• have fun activities outside of work without horses sometimes

Exceed Expectations ‘WOW’ Service
• whether you are an instructor or in Parelli Support, aim to deliver more than the student or customer expects, everyone is a customer

Embrace Never Ending Self-Improvement
• for us individually, as a team and a family
• nurture learning & change
• embrace imagination & creativity
• create support & promote opportunities for personal & professional growth

Do More With Less
• how can we be more efficient & effective
• work smarter not harder
• how can we best utilize the resources we have

Be Humble
• service above self
• be an ‘active parent’ and put your family’s needs before that of yourselves
• be inclusive not exclusive (not autocratic)
• values before our egos
• being authentic about helping the world from the ‘spirit’ of humility

Truth, Transparency & Trust
• honesty
• zero gossip

Keep it Natural
• it’s a lifestyle choice

  • You should be in charge of the gas and your horse should be in charge of the brakes.
  • Take the time it takes, so that it takes less time.
  • Expect a lot, accept a little, reward often.
  • Release pressure at the slightest try.
  • Green and green equals black and blue.
  • Slow and right beats fast and wrong, but fast and right beats everything.
  • What other people think of me is none of my business.
  • What I think of me is none of my business. (Linda - when you are being overly self critical)
  • Horses are natural born skeptics, cowards, claustrophobics, and panic-aholics, by nature and in varying degrees.
  • A horse can only move 6 ways - up, down, forward, backward, left, right, and sometimes all at once!
  • If you always do what you've always done, then you'll continue to get what you've always got.
  • Play with the horse that shows up.
  • A horse is like a computer, it won't always do what you want, but it will always do what you tell it to.
  • Be as light as possible and as firm as necessary.
  • Use love, language and leadership in equal doses.
  • Expect obedience, but be ready to correct, not one more than the other.
  • Be effective to be understood, be understood to be effective.
  • Cause the wrong thing to be difficult and allow the right thing to be easy.
  • Don't make or let, instead use cause and allow. Know the difference.
  • Walk a mile or a minute in your horse's horseshoes.
  • Be as gentle as you can but as firm as necessary. When you're firm, don't get mean or mad and when you're gentle, don't act like a sissy.
  • Don't bribe 'em with carrots, don't hit em with a stick.  Find the middle of the road.
  • Be an extreme middle of the road-ist.
  • Don't get mad, get even-tempered.
  • If your horse wants to bolt, there's probably a nut loose in the saddle.
  • When in horseville, do as horses do.
  • When he's blinking he's thinking....when he's not, he's hot.
  • Savvy is knowing where to be, when to be, why to be and what to do when you get there, at any given moment and in any situation with a horse. 
  • You know you do Parelli when you put the relationship with your horse first, you study in four savvies, you’re involved in never-ending self-improvement.
  • Focus gives you feel.  Focus and feel give you timing.  Focus, feel and timing give you balance.
  • Horses are made up of their spirit, innate characteristics and learned behaviour.


This page will always be under construction - if you have one I'm missing please feel free to leave it in a comment so we can all benefit from these great ideas! :)