Good Attitude vs. Bad Attitude

Good Attitude vs. Bad Attitude
Good Attitude vs. Bad Attitude

I want to talk about the attitude of “If I don’t win the horse will!” I remember when I felt this same way. Both the horses and I would be exhausted, sweaty and tired of each other at the end of our work sessions. I would absolutely dread going out to “work” my horses and I always had so many to work.

I would approach my horses with a bad attitude. I thought I knew what they would do and sure enough they did just what I expected! Fought me, got confused, fought me some more. I didn’t feel that I was ever abusive to any of my horses, but I also didn’t listen to them – which now that I know more – I would say is abusive. My horses did meet me at the gate when I went out to catch them, but that is only because they are such forgiving souls.  When our sessions were over I rarely wondered how they felt about that session. Instead  I was happy if I “won”.

I’m not sure I believe in a “Horse Whisperer”, but I do believe in a “Horse Listener”. One of the keys to having a good attitude with the horse is to listen to them. How do they feel?  Are they frightened? Are they confused? Are they saying no to you because they don’t understand or they don’t feel like playing your game? And if they don’t feel like saying yes, what can you do to motivate them to say yes? If you listen to them these answers will be easier to find.

Having an attitude of justice both towards your horse and towards yourself will help you excel in your horsemanship.

The attitude is justice and to be just, you have to be assertive, be a causer and not a maker. You have to allow and not let.   – Pat Parelli


  1. I love this! Growing up around big thoroughbreds when I was a tiny, tiny girl I was always told that I had to show the horse who was boss and the whole you have to win not the horse. It always made me feel so bad for my horse 😦

    1. same here! not thoroughbreds though… quarter horses! it was just more common then to win at all cost. i’m so glad that things have changed for the better. it was so exhausting to HAVE to win all the time! plus i love how parelli makes horsemanship more playful 😉 more on that later!

  2. I also remember being taught how to “wake my horse up” before showmanship at halter…it involved taking her out behind the barn, and then using a war bridle to snap her again and again,creating painful pressure at her poll and facial nerves. She reared and snorted, and then was afraid, but “respectful”. I couldn’t do this “job”, but my coach in 4H was more than happy to do it. I usually won my class, however, this horror has affected me in my online Parelli play until just recently. I felt so guilty for allowing this to happen….but, I was just a kid. : ( I’m SO grateful for a better way. (

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