For almost 30 years, all over the world, my husband Pat Parelli and I have been passionately sharing our message of Love, Language & Leadership when it comes to training horses. In thousands of demonstrations, I was often on first – as an introduction, and I would tell my story… the difficult horse I didn’t want to give up on, even though professionals told me I was crazy.
After about 15 years, I stopped telling the story because I thought I needed to talk about something else, but you know what? There is nothing more powerful than a story you can identify with. I’ve had so many people say, “That was me! Thank you for giving me hope.”
When people ask about Parelli, they want to know how it works, or why it works. And this story will do that. Most importantly, its true. It changed my life, changed my horse’s life, and I was so inspired that I wanted to help change lives all over the world. Since 1989, the transformations are legion and ‘natural horsemanship’ has become an industry sector. The story continues and never grows old.
In 1987, after seven years being focused on business, I was hungry to have horses in my life again. Impulsively, I bought a seven year old ex-racehorse that proved to be more than a handful, he was downright dangerous.
Every day was a challenge but I was determined not to give up. As long as all I did was walk and trot, in good weather, in a small arena (forget the trail or jumps!), with no other horses around, everything was fine. But as soon as anything changed he wouldn’t just get excited, he turned into 16 hands of frothing, plunging chestnut maniac. Bolting, rearing, being hard to control were weekly if not daily occurrences.
Apart from becoming an avoid-aholic and avoiding everything that upset Regalo, I shopped regularly at the tack store looking for the next new miracle bit or gadget that would help me get more control. I also started having dressage lessons to try and get more control, but two years later things were no better. I sure learned a lot theoretically, but putting it into practice was beyond frustrating. I spent a fortune!
Two years later I was still struggling with the same behavioral issues and was advised by more than one professional that the horse was too big a problem and should be sold to a man, who would be stronger and more dominant than me, or I should have him destroyed because he was going to kill someone – probably me.
It was at that time I was in the tack store in search of the latest gadget, devastated at the thought of maybe having to give up on my horse.
That clinic produced astonishing results. It literally changed my horse in one day. Actually, if you asked my horse he would say it took Pat all day, but finally he got Linda sorted out! Rather than training the horse for me, Pat taught me how to do it myself, to communicate in a way that my horse could understand.
It was completely and utterly different from anything I had ever done with horses, and yet the results were immediate. I learned that Regalo’s behavioral problems were not because he was a bad horse, but because he was confused and, in fact, scared. By the end of the day I was riding that crazy thoroughbred in a halter and lead rope… no bits, no gadgets, surrounded by other horses and riders.
To say that I was “sold” is an understatement. I was committed. Never before had I seen or experienced such a logical, kind and effective way of conversing with a horse and I wanted to share it with everyone!
And so began the second part of the story….
I came back from that clinic so excited and empowered… but nobody at the barn cared. In fact they criticized me terribly for what I was doing. “Why are you doing that stuff on the ground?” “What’s the got to do with dressage?” They didn’t care that suddenly my horse wanted to be with me, that I could calm him when he got upset, that life together got better every single day. I actually moved to a new barn after a few months because I couldn’t stand the mean and critical way people started to treat me.It wasn’t until almost two years later that people started to be impressed with the changes in my horsemanship. I could ride my formerly crazy horse with no bridle, send him into a trailer at liberty, go on happy trail rides, jump, and even windy weather didn’t make a difference any more! Our relationship was completely transformed from hell to harmony – Regalo ran to me, loved being with me. I was finally realizing my dream and… I did this all myself.
I rode again with Pat the next year, and the year after that I began organizing his clinics in Australia. I was still working a more than full time job as an executive, but I knew this had to be shared and I was going to do whatever it took – for the good of horses and the people who love them.
Over the next few years, Pat and I fell in love (that’s another story!) and in 1993 he asked me to come to the USA and help him to change the world.
There is a lot that has happened in the past 25 years. I’ve seen some of the most challenging horses find happiness, some of the highest-level trainers and competitors discover the power of equine psychology. Above all, I have had the most incredible experiences traveling all over the world and teaching people to understand and train their own horses, learn their language, use psychology and master love, language and leadership no matter what their discipline or level of horsemanship.
I use this approach, the program I learned in 1989 to develop all my horses, and I get better at it every day as I pursue my own mastery as a horseman. I continue to teach all over the world, including long term courses at our Parelli Centers, and what fuels me is my passion for making a difference. There is nothing better than watching horses transform and people, like me, achieve their dream with horses.