Where Do You Find A Horse Like That?

Where Do You Find A Horse Like That? 2

Where Do You Find A Horse Like That?
By Linda Parelli

Calm, connected, responsive, supple… sounds like the perfect horse, doesn’t it?

Where Do You Find A Horse Like That?

Remember: The horse was fine until we showed up! This means if the horse is not calm, not connected, not responsive and not supple, either we have caused it or we have not been able to change it.   Most people (natural or not) are dealing with horses that are emotional, disconnected, unresponsive and stiff and bracy to some degree. It’s not fun and it makes progress difficult, sometimes its dangerous… but even worse is when we get frustrated by it or numb to it, and the horse gets blamed for the behavior.

Where Do You Find A Horse Like That? 1

Let’s examine what each one means.


A calm horse is also a more confident horse, and we define five areas in which a horse needs to be confident:

  1. In itself
  2. In you
  3. As a learner
  4. In the environment
  5. In the company of other horses (and riders).

When the horse is not calm it is fearful, tense, anxious and stressed in some way. In order to help a horse be truly calm we have to influence its mind and emotions. You may be able to physically control a horse, but that does not necessarily mean it is calm or in the right frame of mind to learn, train or perform.

A horse that is not calm is easy to spot. It’s the more subtle signs of tension and frustration that we need to learn to see because if we don’t fix it, problems escalate. And just like people, a tense and frustrated horse is also more likely to have health issues.

What is the difference between tension and explosion? Less than a second!


When a horse is connected to you, it is paying attention to you and is not interested in being anywhere else. For example, most of us think a herd-bound horse wants to be with the other horses, when the truth is they’d rather not be with you. Ouch! That seems a bit harsh, but it is true. Here’s the good news, now that you know it’s a relationship thing, you can change that.

Foals are bonded, strongly connected to their mothers. Horses have an instinctive need to bond, even within a herd there are pair-bonds between two horses. The key is to get your horse to connect to you, to develop a bond that is stronger than any lead rope.


Most of us can tell when a horse is unresponsive, but can be totally unaware that we might be part of the problem.

Here are some common examples: Your horse drags behind or pulls against the halter when leading. When riding you have to hold your horse back, or constantly nudge and press with your heels (or spurs) to keep your horse going.

The first step is to become aware of it. Test yourself:

  • Can you lead your horse with slack in the rope – at walk and trot?
  • Can you ride safely on a loose rein – or does your horse get faster and go off course?
  • Does your horse maintain gait and speed if you take your heels off him?

A horse can feel a fly land on him.

So, if a fly gets more response than you do… something has to change!

Something else to be aware of is that, consciously or unconsciously, you are always influencing your horse’s behavior. That means instead of training your horse to be lazy, dull, disinterested, negative and unresponsive, you can actually teach him or her to be responsive, interested, positive and enthusiastic about it.

Can you imagine a horse that responds to the use of your seat, a simple shift of your weight, turns when your shoulders turn and goes and slows according to how much energy you use? You can do that.


When we think of a horse being ‘supple’, we tend to see it as a physical thing, but a brace in the body is also a brace in the mind. A horse that is bracy is defensive or resistant to our ideas, which is why using more force does not work. We have to

convince a horse to trust us and earn his respect, and as a result he can turn loose to us and be more flexible in his attitude and his body.

Using behavior-based training is a very exciting concept because it is much more than just physically shaping a horse. It’s about getting to the mind and very soul of your equine partner.


There are two ways to think of “successful” when it comes to horses.

  1. You have a successful relationship: safe, fun, productive.
  2. Your horse feels successful and offers a higher level of effort and enthusiasm.


  1. This all sounds so great and I wish my horse and I had that because I truly love him and want him to be happy and productive and me to feel safe. How do we get there?

  2. The ideas and concepts expressed here are so clear and simple I was able to soak them right in! I’m reminded the more clear I am in my relationship with my horse the more we both experience success.
    Thank you so much!!!

  3. Linda’s ability to break down the information that we need with horses is nothing short of remarkable. She can read and sense a horses behaviour effortlessly and then make that information available to the common person. Brilliant. Every horse owner will benefit from this.

  4. I know nothing has ever felt so amazing as walking alongside my RBI horse after a post – ride graze, reins tossed over the horn and nothing in my hand, through a 10acre open field …. and have my husband tell me later…”the two of you were stride for stride.” He could have left, or bolted back to the barn….but chose to stay. This program helps you learn to have Blue Ribbon moments in your own backyard that are more meaningful than any win in a show ring. It is all about the relationship.

  5. The Parelli lessons produce results consistently as they put the well-being of the horse and the human in tandem. I began my horsemanship journey with Parelli because I LOVED the idea of having unity with my horse on the ground. I did not care whether I ever rode or not. . . but interestingly, the more bonded our ground relationship became, the more I felt a draw to ride her. Silly as it sounds, I felt in my spirit that she was inviting me to travel with her– on her back where she could move at a more preferred pace and place if I would just hop on. This just seemed like such as natural progression in our relationship. Something like that first guy who ever thought it would be good idea to get up on the back of a horse and try it out—- I think I understand, now, the he must have been invited. So, our riding relationship began and it was really only limited by my riding experience/athletic ability. But my horsemanship skills grew abundantly in the Parelli program, and by practicing the simple instructions of seat/balance with my horse, we both became much more athletic together! The psychology and behaviors and communication of the horse are things we humans must understand! And we must give our equine partners time to learn our psychology/behaviors/communication– whatever time they need. The Parelli program really helps you to understand where you are with your horse, what is going well and what you might need to consider doing differently/more/less.

  6. I`am not a really perfect rider, but yesterday when sliding stop I could feel my horse waiting for me ( my suggestion ) for the first time at all.
    This was the most wonderful relationship for me and my LBE princess.

  7. I’ts so hard and difficult to work with my horses, I can’t seperate them from each other, Lady is very spooky and she is the boss and Tinka followed her where she goes.
    I understand there relations but it makes it difficult for me, oke I can work with Tinka play the seven games but behind the fense because we cannot go to the forest or the beach, lady destroy everything and hurt herself….
    inside the fense two steps forward, but behind the fense three back !! Do I’ll ever reach the circel of succesfull ??, what do I wrong !!??It seems so easy on al the video that I watch , and believe me that’s a lot !!

  8. I am soon thankful for Parelli Natural Horsemanship!!! Pat and Linda are truly changing the horse world!

  9. I have been in the Parelli program 4 years and have found it to be the answer to the problems my horse and I were having and I believe we are truly partners now. I always enjoy a refresher. Otherwise it is easy to become complacent and things start to slide……never good.

  10. I have been in the Parelli program for 4 years and have found it to be most helpful in solving the problems my horse and I were having. I always welcome a refresher because it is way too easy to become complacent and then things start to slide….never good.

  11. Working with an rbe I so appreciate the 5 areas of calmness so much more than I did before which in turn has made me more aware of this in all of the horsenalities. Thank you!

  12. This is a great article and one I have been complete aware of in the last year already taking a different approach with my horse is paying dividends and I am looking forward to the day when my horse and i can ride out together and just enjoy the day with out him feeling scared.

  13. I am so blessed to have this bond with my 20 month old Friesian Major. This method totally works. The key is making lessons fun & being consistent…..Horses are like just like children… Keep them interested….Positive reinforcement!
    Thank you for a great article!

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