Sunday, September 28, 2008

Welcome to the Machine

"Blessed is he who carries within himself a God,
an ideal, and obeys it."

-- Louis Pasteur (1822-1895)

Yesterday was Pat & Linda Parelli at Will Rogers Memorial Center in Fort Worth, Texas. This was the day open to the general public, for which I had scored free tickets at a local equine supply store. Mr. Fry and I were joined by Heather and her parents, Nita and Jim. Jason stayed home, ostensibly to fix one of their trucks that had broken down, but I suspect it might also have been to have a bit of alone time. I half expected the guys to bail on us (we took 2 vehicles), but they stayed for the whole day, God bless 'em.

Today (Sunday) is for Savvy Club members only. Naturally, the big pitch yesterday was to get you to become a member of the club so you could come back today. At each break, they had drawings for prizes, including gear and course packages. Alas, the stars were aligned for others.

Regardless of what you may think of their methods, the corporate presence and merchandising machine they have formed is pretty darned impressive. Although their training aids and such appear to be of good quality, in my opinion, the stuff is way overpriced. I mean, $93.27 ($79.95 for Savvy Club members) for a 22-foot snap-line? C'mon, it's boat rope!
Heather and I looked at those giant green play balls, which look like they could be a lot of fun, then looked at each other in bewilderment at the $75 price tag. I did succumb to a $20 Horsenality T-shirt featuring a cartoon horse sticking his tongue out, saying, "What's in it for me?" My Pokey pony could be the poster child for Left Brain Introvert.

They gave us little Parelli rubber bracelets as we entered. On the way home, I put Mr. Fry's on my wrist along with my own. Mike started laughing and said, "WWPPD -- What Would Pat Parelli Do?" I cracked up. We talked about it and our opinion is, "more power to them." Hell, if we could think of an angle as successful as theirs, we'd be on it like white on rice and y'all would be paying us $20 a month to be a member of our club, sporting T-shirts with our picture. I'd be telling corporate America to kiss my tattooed ass so fast, it'd make your head spin.

Someone left a comment on this blog that we shouldn't miss their entrance, which was actually pretty mundane. They just ran in, with their horses on lead ropes. Pat talked for about 15 minutes, then turned it over to Linda and her beautiful Dutch Warmblood, Rimmer. I wonder if he's named after the character on the Britcom, Red Dwarf? (edit added after the fact: the horse's name is actually Remmer) Mike and I were also musing on the way home about how, if we had been the person to sell her that horse, described as a man-killing nightmare, we sure wouldn't be inclined to admit it now. But, I digress. Linda demonstrated the 7 Games. I liked her relaxed presence and her passion. Forget all the things her horse can do and her skills on the ground and in the saddle. What I admire and envy is her obvious connection with that horse. I want the grace, comfort, ease -- the trust -- of that relationship.

The slowest and least theatrical part of the show was the part I enjoyed most, which was Pat working with a local woman's problem horse, a lovely grey TB mare called Emma.

I listened intently as Pat pointed out the subtle (to me, anyway) signals this horse was sending. That is the other thing I want: to be able to recognize and interpret those signs and behaviors as what they are: my horse attempting to communicate.

I could have done without the 15 minutes (or longer) of Savvy students working their horses. I'm not saying they weren't good, it just seemed long to me.

Afterward, we all had dinner at a local Mexican restaurant -- oh yeah, give me an excuse to eat fajitas -- then parted ways.

I'm really glad we went. I'm grateful for what I learned. Would I spend the money for their aids or tack? Prolly not. Would I like to own their DVD library? If I had the money, which I don't at the moment, I sure would. I may have to check Craig's List and eBay. Am I likely to become a cult follower of their methods to the exclusion of all others? Nope. That's not how I roll.


Chelsi said...

Good for you for staying objective. I agree with everything you said, the over-priced, well presented, quality products and the SELL SELL SELL attitude that we would all adopt in a heartbeat if WE were making the big $$ too. I also admire the connection between human and horse and find that doing just one clinic NH style did give me a whole different set of tools, not to TRAIN horses, but to UNDERSTAND the way they think and make changes to the way I viewed their actions and thus my response. Staying objective and open minded (not become cult like:) is the key to any training program, I think.

Pony Girl said...

Sounds like your interpretation was a lot like mine. I, too, wish it was not priced so high. It seems the average horse owner can't benefit from their program. I purchased the basic package at the event I went to, which included a halter, carrot stick,12 ft. line, and a few dvd's. But now I'm stuck from moving forward because I can't afford more of them. I've grappled with the thought of becoming a member. I also am on a link for a study group, which watches the DVD's and the one gal I met at a clinic actually offered to loan some to me, which is fabulous. But I am also the kind of person who likes to have my own things, so I can not feel rushed to return them and watch it any time I need to, as well.
I do think there has been so much negativity about the "marketing" that people tend to go into it ready to mock the marketing and don't really look at the basics. The events are just a showy slice of what they do, but if you attend clinics with normal horse people you will see it does work and make sense in the real world. But like Horse Crazed, I think it's combination of training methods and perspectives on understanding horses that one needs to walk away with, whatever empire or not they chose to follow.

cdncowgirl said...

I'm not a huge fan of Parelli... well, not so much HIM but the over-hyped "cult like" atmosphere that surrounds his methods.
That said, I do think there is some useful info there. But I'm one of those people that will read all of the "big guys" and see what I can take and use for myself. (no clinics around here usually, not by the BG's at least).
I would attend a Parelli clinic if there was one here by Pat himself, the only ones I've seen are from his followers. Not going to book the time off work to go unless it was the full deal. :)

Mrs. Mom said...

I always say you can learn something from everyone, even if it is what NOT to do. But you do NOT have to fall prey to the "Buy my magical tools to make you an amazing trainer" mentality.

Glad that you went, and posted such a great review of it though!

Keep watching your horses, and "hearing" what they tell you. They will let you know where you need to be... ;)

Oh-- and for real?? A tattoo??? Dude!

CindyDianne said...

Linda Parelli just bugs me - on TV anyway. Maybe in person I would like her better....

But, I would have gone to the seminar too! Great opportunity to learn. And, I totally hear ya about the marketing and money.

Leah Fry said...

Being in the marketing/communications/PR world, I have a real appreciation for what they have done, I really do. I admire Linda Parelli because even though it is/was Pat's methods, she is the driving force behind taking creating the course.

And Mrs. Mom, it's TATTOOS, plural ;-)

CindyDianne said...

Oh, I am sure she's uber smart and super neat. But, well. Nevermind. She's bugs me on tv. That's all.

spazfilly said...

OMG, she has a horse named "RIMMER"?? That is wrong on so many levels I can't even begin to describe. (Sorry, my brain formerly belonged to a 14-year-old boy).

My opinion of the Parelli cult beyond that is that like everyone, they probably have some good things to offer, but the marketing madness is too much. If it helps some people develop a better sense of how to read their horses, then that is wonderful. But, I think part of being a good horsewoman is being open to a variety of ways to make things work for you. There is no one right way to build ANY relationship, horse or human.

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