Too Much Too Young… Riding Immature Horses

Whilst most of us are used to seeing pikey ponies being broken to ride and drive at two years old we aren’t so used to seeing the “professionals” following such an ignorant example.

Parelli however are obviously of the opinion that it is perfectly acceptable to start a 2 year old under saddle over a period of just three days which the public can attend – for a price.

Not only has Trumpet (the horse in question) got to become accustomed to carrying a rider upon his immature frame, but he has to do so in front of a crowd, just so Parelli can earn a little more wonga selling tickets to the public to came and watch the spectacular.

The exploitation of horses sickens me and this is blatant exploitation.

This youngster is being aimed at a career in three day eventing, he shouldn’t have been started until he was at least three years old, preferably older if they care about him having a sound life both mentally and pysically.

It is scientifically proven that a horse’s skeleton isn’t fully fused at such a young age.  Sticking a full grown man complete with a heavy western saddle is going to potentially cause lasting damage to this poor horse, sadly the long term is rarely an issue if you can gain admiration and fanatics in the short term.

These photos were taken on day 1 of Trumpet’s “education”.

How many horses do you come across who are expected to canter under saddle on day one of their training?  The answer is very few.  The vast majority of people who are involved in the training of youngsters would baulk at the idea of backing a horse at two, and they would shudder at the idea of cantering a horse on his/her first day under saddle, even a fully mature animal.

This is just In a Whisper all over again.  Breaking immature horses is something that Parelli must approve of as they continually practice the process.

There is no excuse for this idiocy, in the dark ages people didn’t understand the damage that could be caused by starting a horse so young, nowadays we have the scientific evidence – alongside common sense – telling us that horses aren’t physically mature at a such a young age.  And they most certainly aren’t mentally mature enough to cope with the emotional and educational demands of ridden work.

At 2 years old a horse is not backed it is broken, and that damage takes a lot of time to put back together.

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Twitching and Hobbling

Pat Parelli once compared the use of hobbles and twitches to rape.

Yet he openly uses and condones the use of both.

Apparently their use is justified in certain circumstances, and those who disagree do not understand.

Does Mr. Parelli beleive rape is acceptable in certain circumstances too then?  After all he did compare the use of such gadgets to rape so I can only conclude that he does.

Catwalk was subjected to a lengthly training session in a public arena where he was hobbled by the leg and gum twitched, apparently this is justified as Catwalk is a stallion.  A stallion who passed hands for an incredibly vast amount of money, yet according to the Parelli camp, he was under risk of execution due to the time he took to take up and the treatment he received at Linda and Pat’s hands was justified as it all but saved his bacon.

The horse picture below was also broken with the use of leg restraints.  How that can be thought of as natural I will never know.

I don’t condone many of the practises that occur in conventional horsemanship, but I don’t know many traditional horseman who would condone the use of hobble in the process of taming or backing a horse.  And I have yet to meet a single horseman who would justify the use of hobbles and twitching on a horse who’s only issue was being bridle shy.

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Dear British Horse Society

Does a petition of 1000 signatures mean nothing to the BHS? I ask as after being presented with an online petition, against the treatment Barney (a one eyed horse) received by Parelli, you have chosen to associate yourselves with them. The petition finished before the display at the Royal Festival of the Horse so those repelled by Catwalk’s abusive treatment were not even given the chance to sign and voice their opinion.

Why have you chosen to link up with such a practice that advises you to hit your horse on the nose with a ‘carrot stick‘ to prepare for the next level. Parelli is cruelty masquerading as kindness, many are fooled but I though an organisation as large as yourselves would be impervious to the lies and propaganda.

I thought that the BHS was on the side of the horse, I thought the BHS was on the side of the rider, I most certainly didn’t think that the BHS was on the side of ‘big bucks’.

Does public view mean so little to you?

How much did Parelli pay for you soul BHS . . .  was it worth it?


I have received a reply from the BHS the main points of which are as follows…

1) To confirm the page was paid for as part of an advertising package and the BHS are not endorsing Parelli
2) Whereas once the BHS had a reputation (deserved or otherwise) for intolerance bordering on arrogance, apparently believing that there were only two ways of doing things – the BHS way and the wrong way – we now very much adhere to the line that there are two ways of doing things – the way which achieves the desired ends safely, effectively and without detriment to the welfare of the horse, and all other ways.
3) Many BHS members have taken the view that there are, in Pat Parelli’s methods, elements which work for them and which conform to the “safe/effective/no detriment” imperative. We do also appreciate that many may have formed a contrary view.
4) The BHS view on Pat Parelli – as on every other trainer or advocate of particular training methods – is that, where the techniques conform to the “safe/effective/no detriment” imperative they are valid, and where they do not so conform, we depricate them.

Our values and hard work remain much focussed on improving all equestrian related areas, particularly Safety, Welfare, Access and Training and Qualifications.

In response to their points I make the following statements…

1)  By allowing Parelli to advertise with the magazine using the phrase ‘British Horse has teamed up with Parelli’  associates the BHS irrevocably with their brand.  Whether Parelli paid for the privilege or not is entirely irrelevant

2) The BHS’s supposed intolerance was far less objectionable than their new found apathy.  To stand by ones principles is an admirable trait, to throw them out of the window is of no benefit to either equine or human associates.

3) I know that a 1000 signature petition was presented to the BHS expressing the distaste of the public at the training methods condoned by Parelli.  Do mildly redeemable elements (which I hasten to add elude myself and many others) really counteract the more numerous repellent aspects that disgust a large portion of the population?

4) Is the BHS of the opinion that the advocation of hatless riding is safe. . . that to gum-line a bridle shy horse is effective. . . and that it is of no detriment to advise hitting your horse in the face for no other reason than preparation for level 2.  If the BHS’s opinion is genuinely that of Parelli being safe effective and of no detriment, I am beyond belief.

How can the British Horse Society, a registered CHARITY  justify calling yourself that in the wake of their approval of Parelli.  I certainly will not become a member of any organisation that approves of such methods.
The BHS of times gone by would be ashamed of what it has become.

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The Video

This video has been disabled by Parelli Natural Horsemanship.  All videos exposing the reality of Parelli training have been removed from the internet.

Viewed by over 40,000 people and rising the youtube of Barney’s training session with Linda Parelli has caused shock-waves throughout the equine community.

When I first viewed the footage I was flabbergasted, and I felt moved to show as many as I could the sort of training that goes on under the name of natural horsemanship, Parelli’s motto is “love, language and leadership in equal doses”, I see none of those principles displayed here.

Many Parelli fans have stated that the youtube clip is edited to look far worse than it was in reality. The clip was taken from disc 3 in the red Parelli level 1 DVD, and although edited (not to hide anything but purely to come under fair use) comes across no worse than the footage in it’s entirety, in fact as a horse lover I find the whole session more disturbing to watch. The Parelli fans that have accused me of editing it to deceive obviously have not seen the video themselves.

Linda Parelli has herself implied that the clip was taken out of context… again the Parelli DVD proves that this is not the case, though I do fail to see any context in which Linda’s treatment of Barney would be acceptable.

Many people originally thought that the clip was leaked by a whistle-blower, the fact that this footage was included in a training DVD aimed at absolute beginners beggars belief.

The youtube has received many comments from horse lovers disgusted at Barney’s treatment, though not all find the treatment Barney received abusive, a select few (whose judgement I highly question) feel that it was/is a totally acceptable training technique, and precisely what the horse needed, though those in favour do all appear to be Parelli devotees.

The video without a doubt shows abusive treatment perpetrated on an innocent horse, those who can not see that seriously need to reconsider their judgement, it makes my blood boil, every time that I watch the video I find it more and more shocking.


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Despite having spent the first 11 years of his life in a traditional fox-hunting yard (which is apparently a very tough existence) Barney, during his training session, was to quote Linda Parelli…

“… starting to have a lot of trouble with the wind in the trees and bushes.” 

well fox-hunters are notorious for their distaste of weather and nature! 

Barney’s owner (Paul H.) acquired him from the Hunt yard as they were planning on having him put to sleep after he became injured.  Barney had lost his left eye after an accident on the hunting field (he suffered a corneal scratch which became infected and as a result his eye was removed).

Barney then spent two years at pasture before being brought back into ridden work.

During the making of the Parelli “training” DVD Barney was in a new and strange environment filled with camera crews and unfamiliar horses and people.  How any horse, let alone a partially sighted one, could be expected to completely ignore it’s surroundings I don’t know, Barney didn’t even have the security of knowing his handler once Linda Parelli took over, and Linda did nothing to make him trust her.

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The Owner

Name: Paul T. H****** referred to by Parelli as Paul H.

Paul is an equine assisted psychotherapist and Parelli Level 2 graduate who sums up his Parelli experience with these words…

I know I am grateful for what I learned from the Parelli program, and I think anyone who knows Barney will say that he is grateful as well.”

Paul may be grateful… and those who know Barney are welcome to say as they please, but I for one don’t ever believe Barney would say “Thank you” or show one single ounce of gratitude for the tirade of abuse he received at the hands of Linda Parelli and Paul H.

But gratitude it seems is the mainstay of Parelli programming. Parelli-ites are so grateful they found Parelli… Grateful that Parelli has managed to keep them alive through this life threatening experience called horse ownership as so many horses and horsemen/women die without the instructional benefit of Parelli.

They are grateful their horses are still alive, as millions of horses are euthanised every day for the atrocious crimes of looking around and walking to fast!

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The “Training”

It is allegedly the Parelli-ites that Barney was behaving in an incredibly dangerous manner during his training. According to Linda Parelli herself…

Barney was terribly spooked”


his behaviour was becoming dangerous”

Barney was not “terribly spooked” he was merely observing his surroundings. Due to Barney’s disability he suffers severely restricted vision, it is therefore necessary for him to move his head to take in his environment. A fully sighted horse can observe it’s environment whilst stationary, Barney can only see what surrounds him on one side, and for a prey animal that is very scary, particularly in a strange setting with camera crews, equipment, unknown horses and people all around you.

As for the claim that Barney was behaving dangerously, Barney didn’t once show any sign of aggression (which is more than can be said of Linda Parelli who showed nothing but aggression). What Barney felt was confusion, disbelief and stress, no matter how he behaved he got reprimanded, standing still was wrong, as was going left, right, backwards and forwards, I know very few horses that would have taken that treatment with such good nature.

No horse deserves to be treated in such a abusive way for 10 seconds, let alone have to face the lengthy tirade Barney received at Linda’s hands.

A quote from Linda herself regarding the situation…

I had to increase the intensity until it matched the intensity of his fear, which was dangerously high”

The only thing that Barney was scared of was Linda’s outlandish behaviour and his owner Paul’s behaviour beforehand. Barney became so increasingly stressed out by Linda’s treatment that he even pooped himself in fear, and his breathing was exactly that of a terrified horse.

Linda Parelli repeatedly strikes Barney with both her hand and the rope, as does Barney’s owner Paul. At one point in the video you can hear the clip of the rope smack in to Barney’s jaw, Linda Parelli’s response was to laugh and exclaim something along the lines of “that was a good clunk”… not the behaviour you would expect from a horse lover, but exactly the behaviour I have come to expect of a Parelli. The rope Linda was wielding repeatedly walloped poor Barney round the face and head, a sure way to make any horse head-shy fearful of ropes. No horse would learn a thing but fear with such training tactics, Barney is proof that the best outcome possible is one very confused and stressed out horse.

This is part of a training programme! Training for what? I understand that we all have our different ideas as to how to train our animals. But Parelli is marketed as kind training system which uses no force…

I fail to see how smacking a horse about is going to help relieve any situation, but what is more Linda Parelli’s flailing rope could have caused serious injury to Barney’s one remaining eye.

I have watched the entire training session multiple times, all Barney does is try to find the right response to Linda’s tirade, he attempts coming to and going away from her, neither of which relieves his predicament.

Barney tried everything he can think of and it is proof of his good nature that his worst “crime” was to look around for help.

I own three equines and I know that not one of them would have behaved as impeccably as Barney did.

My three each faced with such behaviour would have…

Run her over in panic to get away, then run her over again just for good measure.

Ignored her “training” for a short while, then done an almighty great rear.

Flown at her teeth barred and make sure she suffered at least on mighty big bruise.

and Barney is an incredibly dangerous horse!

I am forced to conclude that behaving incredibly dangerously is Parelli code for behaving like a normal unrobotisied horse!

If Barney was truly a danger surely he should not have been trained in an open space full of other horses and people. If he had broken free bedlam would have ensued in Parelliville, or does Linda Parelli believe that she could hold a horse if it really wanted to take off?

All videos of the training Barney endured have been removed from the internet due to “copyright infringement”.  

I ask, if Parelli had nothing to hide and have done nothing wrong why do they feel it necessary to remove all evidence of the treatment Barney endured?

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