What is Parelli?

"Parelli Natural Horsemanship’s goal is to help raise the level of horsemanship worldwide for the benefit of horses and the people who love them.

The Parelli Program is a people-training program focused on the study of horse behavior and horsemanship skills. The program spans Four Savvys, or areas of development, through four distinct levels of skill improvement. 

The cornerstones of the program are a dedication to never-ending self-improvement and an acknowledgement that the improvement of horsemanship is a lifelong pursuit for those passionate about the horse. 

The program encourages students to develop creative problem-solving skills and think in a lateral manner, while taking the non-verbal feedback and expression of the horse into consideration." 


Horsemanship can be obtained naturally through communication, understanding and psychology, versus mechanics, fear and intimidation.
— Pat Parelli


SEVEN GAMES - the games horses play naturally with each other in the herd to establish dominance.  The first three games are Principle Games - Friendly (confidence building), Porcupine (yielding from steady pressure, a feel), and Driving (yielding from rhythmic pressure, a suggestion).  The last four games are Purpose Games and are made up of the above games - Yo-Yo (equalizing whoa and go, balancing impulsion), Circle (building mutual responsibilities), Sideways (building athleticism and thinking), and Squeeze (building confidence in tight spaces, shortening the 'flight line').

FOUR SAVVYS - four distinct areas in which you can play the Seven Games - On Line (on the ground with a rope), Liberty (on the ground with no ropes), FreeStyle (riding on a loose rein or bridleless), and Finesse (precision riding or riding with contact).

HORSENALITY - the traits that make up each individual horse.  Horsenality is made up of innate characteristics, spirit, and learned behavior.  Horses tend to either be introverts (they need to think before they want to move their feet) or extroverts (they need to move their feet before they can think), and are either left brain (using the logical, thinking, and partnership side of the brain) or right brain (using the instinctive, prey animal side of the brain).  Therefore a horse will typically fall into one of the following: Left Brain Extrovert, Right Brain Extrovert, Right Brain Introvert, or Left Brain Introvert.  Some horses can fall on a cusp or axis meaning they show traits in multiple Horsenalities.

LEVELS - The sequential way to progress through the Parelli Program.  Level 1 (partnership) has skills in the On Line Savvy only.  Level 2 (harmony) has skills in the On Line, Liberty, and FreeStyle Savvys.  Level 3 (refinement) and Level 4 (versatility) have skills in the On Line, Liberty, FreeStyle, and Finesse Savvys.  The home study program consists of Levels 1 - 4, although Pat says there are 10 total Levels of horsemanship.