We received this lovely story from Jennifer Bell about her son, who through Parelli, found love and success with a naughty pony.
My son, Evan is a tiny 10 year old, who also happens to have high-functioning Autism. Evan decided he would like to learn to ride English because, even though at lower levels girls rule the arena, he knew that most Olympians were men!
Snazzy was a naughty pony… We think she may have been mistreated, and certainly has had bad experiences being the low pony on the proverbial totem pole. She was a pain for just about everyone who rode her, Evan included. She could not be used in group lessons because regardless of who rode her, she would back up and kick any horse behind her. Evan rode her in a couple of group lessons, and there were times I wondered WHY ON EARTH I was allowing it! She had tried to kick me while I was trying to catch her one day… Snazzy was a “lost cause” and to this day, most people who have tried to use her at the farm where Evan takes lessons talk about how difficult she is. There were many times Evan would get so frustrated with Snazzy that he would pull her reins in frustration, or have a meltdown because she would not cooperate with him.
The farm owner, Julie Amendola, contacted her friend Miss Susan. Miss Susan started teaching some of Julie’s employees to play the Parelli Seven Games with the horses. Miss Susan also met with Evan and taught Evan to play the Games with Snazzy. Evan decided to give it a go. At Miss Susan’s request, we signed up for the Savvy Club and we bought a kid-size Carrot Stick. Twice per week, every week except one since March, Evan has been playing the Games with Snazzy.
I cannot tell you the difference in both pony and rider. Snazzy has come so far in such a short period of time. In fact, during one of the horse camps at the farm this summer, Miss Susan asked Evan to give a demonstration of the Seven Games. Snazzy performed immediately, with only light pressure!! She was a little star… and Evan has never been so commanding! He was able to talk, explain what he was doing, and why, and he was SO confident!! I wish I had video from that day. It was incredible. During a conversation between Julie and Susan, Julie said she could not do the Driving Game on the ground with Snazzy. Susan replied, “Evan is the ONLY ONE who can do the Driving Game with Snazzy.” And he does – successfully. He does not have to tap her nose with the stick. She just moves. She just loves and respects him.
Snazzy had started participating in group lessons again a few weeks ago. She still had her moments, but was far better than she ever had been pre-Parelli. One day while Evan was in camp, Snazzy wouldn’t listen, and while he rode her, she backed into another horse just for the sake of kicking him. Evan was very upset, dismounted, and was sifting the arena sand through his fingers; one of his sensory stimulating activities when he is overwhelmed. The camp leader told me that Snazzy walked over to Evan, ears forward, lowered her head to him, sniffed, and “checked in” as if to apologize.
We are now leasing Snazzy, so there will be no more group lessons for her! She’s a once in a lifetime kind of pony for Evan. She still has a long way to go… and we’re working on that. But she is such a sweet pony, and deserves the very best, so we recently got her a Parelli rope halter and lead.
Once in a while we talk about leaving Fort Worth to move back to San Diego where the climate is more temperate. Evan said, “But Snazzy would be so lonely.” Of course, that means we will stay put. Evan has begun seeing things from another perspective. To me, that is worth all of the time, sweat, and chasing, (yes, it is me who has to chase her down when she doesn’t want to work!), we have put in with her.
Thank you so much for this fantastic program that is making a difference in our entire family… all because of one naughty pony and her boy.