Monday, April 6, 2009

My letter to Pat and Linda

I just typed this up to send in with my DVD audition...

Thought I would share...

Dear Pat and Linda Linda

I had the pleasure of meeting you in Sydney at the conference and I expressed my thanks. I wanted to outline my gratitude again with my Level Two Freestyle Audition DVD (enclosed).

I started riding only a little under 5 years ago. I had always had a dream of learning to ride but as a child we could not afford lessons. I got older and forgot about it, only going for treks on school horses where and when I could. I fell off badly on my 21st birthday on a trek where the horse just made a B line for the barn on the way back and turned a corner at canter and my body didn’t follow. I fell off and the horse ran over me – it’s hoof clipping my face which knocked my front tooth through my lip (broke my front tooth off and sent it through my lip to my chin!

I didn’t get on another horse for nearly 20 years - well apart from a riding centre in the UK – my boss shouted me a ride/trek while I was nannying in the UK – I got on and this snobby English lady made everyone trot in a big circle. She yelled out – “that girl can’t ride’ and I was not allowed to continue the ride with the others – it was very very embarrassing.

So – I kind of gave up my dream of riding – until the big 40 was approaching. (I am 42 now.) At 38 I decided to have lessons! I had just lost 20 kg and had the confidence to finally get back on a horse. The instructor told me to stand up in the stirrups and hold on to the mane – that was how to canter. Lean forward like a jockey he said. Well all we did was walk and canter over their farm with me holding on for dear life and one day there was a little jump – all the others went over – it looked small enough. My horse went over with me leaning forward as instructed, and then the horse stopped as soon as he was over the jump – but I didn’t and was catapulted over the horses head and broke my arm – right up by the shoulder- so no cast, no wires just a lot of pain and sleeping sitting upright for 6 weeks!

As you can imagine my confidence was shattered. I had to re-look at what I was doing. I changed riding instructors and found one that was better for my confidence but it was a slow road. My riding didn’t seem to improve that much. I would question the instructors on ‘sawing’ the reins and using ‘morse code’ on the reins to get the horses head ‘down’. I hated it. I went from one instructor to another – all of whom focused on getting the horse in an outline or to have contact, none of them instructed me on how to ride better, get my balance, or improve my seat. That was all supposed to come naturally, and in time. I would see people that had ridden for years and think ‘wow’ they make it look so easy.

I finally adopted a horse that had been abandoned. My instructor said he would be good for me to learn on. Turned out he (in hindsight) was a RBI and bolted several times with me on his back. I fell off a few times, luckily no injuries, apart from to my confidence. I loved him to bits but decided he was too old and had too much baggage to ride.

6 months later I decided to buy a horse as I was addicted (despite all that!), and found a gorgeous Palomino Swedish Warmblood. Finally I thought I can take my horse out and enter competitions and win ribbons and have fun and go to the beach etc etc etc. The first month I did so much – going out all the time, but slowly my confidence started to diminish. During one jumping lesson I fell off twice! Oh – I forgot to mention I fell off two of the horses that I trialed during my search to buy – yes - over jumps!

My first ribbon day I accidentally entered the wrong ring for the first round and someone came over and told me my ‘jacket was wrong’ and that she could see daylight under my girth’. Nice! Garbo proceeded to jig jog around and call out to others the entire day. I got 2nd place for best rider in the Mature ring. It wasn’t a fun day. I entered him into a couple of Golden Horse Inhand shows where he won lots of ribbons but on the ground he would cut me off during the trot out so it was difficult to show him off to his best.

Over a period of about a year my confidence was at an all time low. The last show I took Garbo to was a Ribbon Day and in the ring with 40 other horses as soon as they started trotting he turned into a bucking bronco. I stayed on long enough to exit the ring and got off in tears, walked him back to the float (trailer) in tears, cried all the way home and have not been back to another show since.

After two years of owning him I finally found Parelli. However it wasn't straight forward - 6 months before that, I had seen a demo at an Horse Expo of a (so-called) Parelli instructor and I hated every minute of it (turns out he was a sacked PP) – the horse looked scared to death so I dismissed this ‘Parelli’ stuff and carried on trying all sorts of other methods and trainers. This included Monty Roberts, Trisha Wren, Andrew McLean, and dressage lessons. None of these people made any difference to my horse. They labeled him lazy, stubborn, obstinate, and hard to ride. Basically they told me I had too much horse for my ability. They couldn’t ride him well so how could I? Being a beginner and all!

Our arena lessons were full of bucks and kicks and he seemed miserable. One thing prevailed though – even then, I spent a lot of time with my horse – we were best buddies, and he was always pleased to see me – even if my attempts made him frustrated. I questioned my instructor on why he opened his mouth against the bit – she told me to get a flash noseband. I didn’t want to and was always loosening it when she couldn’t see. I searched for a more comfortable bit and got a myler bit – but I hated having to ride with a whip to get anything done. No one could really give me the answers I was searching for. I went to clinic after clinic and tried various riding methods including lunge lessons with a classical dressage rider and horse. All very well on a smooth horse but my horse had a bouncy trot and canter.

For the whole 12 months before I started Parelli my horse was intermittently lame. Vets would come up with suggestions like I needed to canter the hell out of him, or that his feet were trimmed unevenly, but no one knew - or fixed it. I did my own research and realised he was Bridle Lame - even at times on the lunge without the bridle!! I was at an all time low.

Then I saw a CoverAll ad in a magazine and went to their website (I would love one in my dreams!) and saw a Parelli testimonial. In the background I could see people doing things with horses I could not believe. Then I saw Linda saying how she used to have a horse that she couldn’t ride in the wind, or the rain, or with other horses, away from other horses etc etc – that sounded just like I had become! I searched for more videos on the internet and within a week of researching Parelli I signed up for Level One home study.

That was July 2007, in October I passed Level One and here is my Level 2 freestyle audition. I have not looked back – I have every instructional course DVD Parelli have issued and belong to the Savvy Club. I think the materials are so professional and easy to learn.

I have not returned to a show yet, but I have returned to the forest for trail rides, now in a hackamore to everyone elses amazement (and horror in some cases) and I have just started riding bareback. My husband and ‘normal’ friends have noticed such a change in my horse, and in I. One friend who I had not seen for a year commented on how muscled and toned he was – little did she know we only ride once a week sometimes. The rest is all online and liberty. My confidence has slowly returned and I attribute that to Linda and Stephanie saying it’s OK to get off!

We now have our own property and my horses are at home. Sadly my adopted first horse died of colic in January 2008, but Garbo is loving Parelli – he adores liberty, and we are getting there slowly on the riding front. Our relationship has only got better – I think he is super pleased I found Parelli!

So I just wanted to say thank you – I have only fallen off once since starting Parelli – and that really was just that I slipped off, literally, during a small spook while riding bareback, and as you can see I am jumping now and not terrified of it. I have only attended one Parelli clinic so I have done all this by myself – I have only one Parelli friend nearby so it’s been a challenge doing it alone but worth every day of it!

Thank you again Pat and Linda.
You inspire me.


Amanda said...

sounds great :) Your journey to parelli was like so many of ours we found it by accident by looking for a answer to our problems and i can see you have found your :)
and btw best of luck with your level 2 i bet you will do amazing!!!

Vicki said...

Thanks Amanda :-)

Horsegirl on a Journey said...

Thank you for this personal and brave post. I too just blogged about my own pre-Parelli, somewhat sporadic horse experience.(

It is testament to the love we have for horses that we recognize that it's the people who were the problem, LOL, and we continue to fling ourselves into the herd even after humiliation, fear, injury, disillusionment.

I am so grateful for Parelli and everyone truly committing to the natural horsemanship journey. Not only is my relationship with my horse growing day by day, but I'm meeting people who feel like I do about horses and horsemanship. Support really is one of the seven keys to success. :)

Adding your blog to my links...