We’d like to congratulate Parelli Support team member Katie Lund for graduating Level 4! We took a few moments to ask Katie some questions about her challenges and successes along the way to Level 4 and this is what she had to say.
• How did you find the Parelli Program? How old were you and what got you hooked?
My horsemanship journey started when my grandparents bought a working cattle and guest ranch in Nebraska when I was 5. This led our family to sell our house, leave the city and join them in this new adventure. My parents purchased the Level 1 kit immediately, started working with our purchased string of horses and taking them through the Levels Program. I started riding the oldest horse the next summer when I was 6, and fell in love! I spent many hours with my Dad out on the ranch, and graduated up several horses, until I started Level 1 on my own when I was 8. I worked on Level 1 with several different horses before my Grandpa bought me my current horse, Candy when she was 9 months old and I was 10. She was halter broke very gently, but had no further training. This was another significant point in my journey as I decided to quit playing softball and left public school for homeschooling to give me time to devote to my horsemanship. With the help of my family, I took Candy through Levels 1 and 2 in the program. At that point, I had learned everything my parents could help me with. The closest Parelli instructor was 4 hours away, but we found a Level 4 student, Sue Towne, who was just 2 hours away. I began traveling and spending time with her as much as resources allowed when I was 13. I submitted and passed my Level 3 Auditions the summers that I was 14 and 15 with her help. During this time, I was also able to travel to Denver to attend my first Parelli event, the Horse and Soul Tour. I participated in rodeos and barrel races over several summers, decreasing my times every year. Another turning point was the decision to give that up to be able to devote all our resources to traveling to continue my horsemanship with Sue Towne. We had a dozen volunteers at our ranch between 2010-2014. I enjoyed showing them what I had learned about natural horsemanship, and supporting them in their own journey. Our string of horses at the ranch represented all 4 quadrants of Horsenalities, so I played the Seven Games with a dozen very different horses in Nebraska.
• Tells us about your Levels horse.
Candy is an 8-year-old, Left Brain Introvert, Quarter Horse that I received from my grandpa as a birthday present. I am so incredibly lucky to have had her as my Levels horse. She was so patient and gentle with me when I didn’t know what I was doing. The day that I first got on and rode her was awesome. She pretty much had no reaction and was completely cool with it. I would say that Candy is a very centered LBI because she is not overly naughty or argumentative. This isn’t to say that she won’t throw a hissy fit occasionally but for the most part she is very agreeable to what I want her to do. I attest a lot of that part of her Horsenality to the fact that she never had bad experiences with non-Parelli people.
• What was your easiest Level or Savvy? Your hardest? Why?
Our easiest Savvys were Liberty and FreeStyle. Most of the time when I go play with my horse for fun we tend to play in these two Savvys. Candy, being a LBI, loves to show me how much she knows and what she can do when we are at Liberty. In On Line our most difficult part was getting impulsion for our canter circles. The hardest part of Finesse was getting Candy to move into the bit and not over flex and hide behind it.
• Can you tell us a little about how the Audition process was for you?
It was not an easy project. However, looking back it was a journey that taught me a lot. When Sue first said that I should consider auditioning for Level 3, I was excited. I think the most frustrating part was that I knew that I had all the pieces that I needed but getting it all in a 10-minute video was difficult to say the least. Being a perfectionist about the video did not speed up the process. I learned very quickly that I needed to film every time that I ran through the tasks as I would get nervous and it affected our performance. I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I felt like I was never going to get my Level 4. My mom was my biggest cheerleader during this time, not letting a weeknight go by without me working on my Auditions. Even now looking at my black string sitting on my desk it doesn’t seem real.
• You moved to Pagosa to be closer to Parelli, has being at the heart of the company helped you achieve your horsemanship goals faster? Tell us about your course experiences.
Yes, working in the corporate office has helped, but only in the fact that I am surrounded by Parelli Professionals who can help me with the filming process (weekly employee lessons with Pat doesn’t hurt anything either). 2-Star Parelli Professional Kat Green and 3-Star Parelli Professional Mattie Cowherd were both awesome about helping me achieve Level 4.
In 2015 I took the 10-Week Intensive Horsemanship course. My course experience was comprised of mixed emotions. About a month before my course Candy foundered. This was such a blow to me, I had always envisioned us going through the 10 weeks together. So, I started the course with my Dad’s Level 2-3 horse, Cactus. About 2 weeks into the course Cactus got sick. So, then I began again with one of Pat’s Dream Horses, CC. CC taught me a lot as she is the opposite Horsenality as Candy. CC is a LBE/RBE, she was fun to play with because her challenges are the opposite of Candy’s. Regardless of all of these things that happened it was so great to be able to focus on my horsemanship for 10 weeks with like minded people who had similar goals to mine.
• Now that you have completed the foundation of the program by achieving Level 4, what do you plan to do next with your horse? Do you have recreational/competitive/ professional goals?
My next plans for Candy are to pursue jumping and dressage.