By Parelli student Nicola Sharp—
My name is Nicola, and I am a non-horsey mum. Together with my 14-year-old daughter Olivia and her Arabian mare Sheridan Park Faanya, we have begun our Parelli journey. We ride with 2-Star Parelli Professional Rebecca Jeyaseelan along with a dedicated group of Parelli students at Shellgrit Stables. We have a mixed bag of all sorts in our group ranging from mums, daughters, friends, family, and people who have just seen what we do and who want a piece of it – it’s just lovely.
Some of us have been involved with other disciplines and clubs along our horsemanship journeys but I can hand on heart say, until I was introduced to Parelli, I have never felt “so right” about being a horse owner and trusting my 14-year-old daughter with a 500kg+ animal who has a mind of it’s own. Some of us are also involved in an amazing little club in Lewiston called Adelaide Plains Equestrian Club (APEC). This is a very low key club who invites its members to be themselves with their horses the way they are at home. There are no strict rules about having to wear certain clothes or having certain tack, as long as you have safe shoes and tack and have a helmet which complies with current safety standard rules then you are good to go. They offer something different each month ranging from Forest Camps, Beach Rides, Dressage, Western Days, and Slack Hack shows!
As a Parelli team, we attended a Slack Hack Show in November. At a normal Hack Show, judges look for a horse or pony that is a graceful mover, responsive to the rider’s touch, and in good health. The ratio for judgement is 60% conformation and soundness and 40% manners, paces, and education. Most of these shows demand bells and whistles, but the Slack Hack Show was less about the appearance of the horse and rider and more about the style and quality of horsemanship.
It was so much fun being out and about and being able to stay safe and savvy using Parelli Natural Horsemanship methods and to top off the day we won quite a few ribbons including 1st and 2nd in groundwork among others, “Go Team Parelli!“
The judge offered her old ribbons as prizes, and there were classes ranging from groundwork to messiest horse and handler to barrel racing. Our little team was overjoyed to take our Parelli foundation to such an event. Many people praised our horses and our skills with them. The only better feeling than that is the connection I have with my horse. Even the judge’s comments were heartwarming because she noticed the magic happening in the ring and not only was accepting of it, but she praised it as well.
It’s so nice to be a part of a club where what we practice at home, Parelli Natural Horsemanship, is accepted so Olivia and Faanya don’t need to “change their style for the occasion.” We were proud to be out there doing what we do!
Just quietly, I could hear a group of mums in the background in awe at what they were seeing our kids do with their horses, it was just lovely! It reminded me so much of Linda’s story she tells about hearing people say “I want what she’s got going on.”
I want to give a big shout out to our amazing instructor Rebecca for having faith in us all. We were proud to take our team out and about to show other people what it is we do and even prouder to be acknowledged and commended by judges.
My daughter and I have been at several events and lessons where it was not acceptable to be different from the status quo and to stray from the traditional methods of riding and training horses. It was refreshing to be at the Slack Hack Show where different was all right.
A few years ago, Olivia entered into a competitive event and was pressured to perform in a way that she wasn’t comfortable with and that did not work for her partnership with her pony. That same day, I sat down with Olivia and we had a conversation about sticking to Parelli, which we love, and not changing our ways every time we took her pony anywhere.
Since then, she has had a beautiful connection with her horses, and those moments are a testament to her admirable leadership and dedication of time she has put in with her horses.
Parelli has not only helped Olivia and I with our horse journey but also with life. I often find myself, as a 37-year-old mother of two, reflecting on daily life in a Parelli manner. In our family, we do what works and what works is Parelli.