Bringing Parelli to the Bramham International Horse Trials
Sarah Louise Olney
My name is Sarah Louise Olney, and I am a licensed 1-Star Junior Parelli Professional currently living in northern England. I live in a little village nestled in the hills of the Yorkshire Dales National Park, North Yorkshire. (If you have ever seen the TV program All Creatures Great and Small, that’s where I live.)
Anyway, I have always had a passion for horses, which ultimately became my career. Upon leaving school, I embarked on a journey working for an international show jumper and an international eventer. My role as a groom enabled me to travel with the British teams to many wonderful places, both within the UK and overseas! I attended such events as The Royal Show, The Dubai Cup (Hickstead) and Burghley and Badmington Horse Trials.
It was whilst I worked in New Zealand in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s that I first came across Parelli Natural Horsemanship. I saw a video of Pat that truly inspired me. Shortly after this, I was caught up in a whirlwind of traveling, experiencing different cultures, cattle drives and world horse welfare rides, flying horses from New Zealand to Australia for the thoroughbred yearling sales, and guiding treks through the world heritage rainforest in far northern Queensland, Australia. This was an exciting time for me. To top it off, I was then presented with an opportunity to see Pat Parelli live with Linda at the NEC arena in Birmingham, UK.
I was blown away by their common sense approach that led to such heartwarming results. I was transfixed by Rachael Moreland’s show on her little chestnut Arab, Phoenix. To me, this was a genuine partnership, and pure harmony in motion. From that moment, I set upon my true calling to become a Parelli Instructor. I attended as many clinics as I could, and I spent three summers at the UK campus, along with a summer in New Zealand working towards my qualification.
When I was approached by Parelli to help with the organization of the first official Parelli trade stand in the north of England at the popular Bramham International Horse Trials, I leaped at the opportunity. Bramham, held in North Yorkshire, is one of the UK’s leading three-day events, attracting an average of 45,000 spectators each year.
So, on a sunny afternoon in North Yorkshire, Margot Nielson from the Parelli UK office, met up with me and my coordinator, Amanda Wraith. After a catch-up over a cup of Yorkshire tea, we set off on our short journey to the Majestic Bramham Park and Grounds. We were greeted at the gate with a friendly Yorkshire smile, and proceeded to drive into the 450-acre grounds.
There was a calmness in the air, being in such a beautiful environment. The sky was blue, the pastures green, the birds were singing, and the house and grounds were immaculate. Margot, myself, and Amanda found our pitch and set up the stand for the following day. Upon completion, we realized we couldn’t finish the day without introducing Margot to a good old fish and chip supper.
Yorkshire is England’s largest county, and is home to many Parelli students spread over a wide area. The Bramham Parelli Natural Horsemanship Team was ready and waiting; the team was comprised of Margot, myself (representing the Northern Instructor Team), and Liz Andrews and Barbara Steele-Vaessen (representing the Midlands Instructor Team). An abundance of volunteers assisted us throughout the week: Amanda Wraith, Jess Waistridge, Justine, McGraw, Rachael Middleton, Elaine Fletcher, Sandra Gaskin Hall, Tracy Howard, Susan Derwick, Lorraine Sanderson, and the mother/daughter team of Joyce and Phoebe Thorpe. They all did a super job of keeping everybody happy and informed!
Some of our country’s most talented equestrians competed, including the Whittaker Dynasty, Robert Smith, Pippa Allen (show jumping) and Nicola Wilson, Khristina Cook and Oliver Townsend (eventing), to name but a few. It was wonderful!
I cannot write this blog without mentioning my dear friend and coordinator, Amanda Wraith. Amanda has been an incredible help to me over the years, and has supported the Parelli Program and its many Instructors for over a decade. I first met Amanda while I was assisting Rachael Morland and Lyla Cansfield at the famous Bisselwood Course near Kidderminster; we have been the best of friends ever since. As a local to the Bramham event, Amanda knew just how far apart the different entrances were, so she brought her bike. She made us smile as she pedaled off to meet the various volunteers as they arrived, and brought them safely to the stand. Always multi-tasking, and always smiling!
I also want to take this opportunity to mention the newest recruit to my support team: Jess Waistridge, a Parelli student who has shown a huge commitment to the program. Jess has spent time with Parelli both in Australia and the UK, and has agreed to join our team to help with the administrative duties. For me, Bramham held other emotions too. I met up with many old dear friends that I hadn’t seen for many years, from all equestrian disciplines, along with fellow instructors, farriers, and equine dentists.
And so, after a very busy time on the stand, this successful week came to an end. Being at Bramham Park representing Parelli Natural Horsemanship in my beloved Yorkshire was a privilege, and I personally feel honored to be representing a program I believe in. I have seen incredible results through the use of the program, and I am passionate about it and many other disciplines of equine horsemanship. It may have been the end of the week at Bramham, but in my eyes, it’s only the beginning of a very bright future in the north of England for Parelli Natural Horsemanship (and many more Bramham Horse Trials).
Myself, Amanda, and Jess are here to support you with your equine journey. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Facebook or Parelli Connect!