My Frustrating Horsemanship Journey

The struggles of helping my horse feel confident.
My Journey

I have been struggling with my horsemanship journey lately. For the last several months I have noticed a change in Billy. My normally happy, funny, joyful horse has become more and more introverted, stressed and emotional. As we try to advance our horsemanship, by climbing up through the levels, Billy has shown more and more stress related behavior issues; nervous mouth, lowering his head all the way to the ground, shaking his head, grinding his teeth, all of a sudden being very very itchy, so much so that he can’t pay attention to me anymore, not looking at me, pushing me, etc. etc.

I am quite certain that all of these behaviors have been building for some time.

I am a visual learner. I love to read all the information, search out the videos and then go try the challenge. What I am noticing about this way of learning is that I can’t FEEL what is going on in the videos and there are no FEELINGS in what I’m reading. I can implement the actions, but I think I may losing the feel behind them. Billy will do everything I ask, but it’s done more by rote than because he understands WHY or even feels engaged.

I’m not saying that he is never engaged because sometimes he is. He used to be even more. Then I got unconfident in myself which I think causes him to feel unconfident in me and now we are both an emotional wreck.

I want to be very clear that this is not because we do Parelli. So many people don’t like Parelli for one reason or another and are quick to blame the program and not the person trying to implement it. This is entirely ME. I have done my best, but my best is not good enough.

I often feel a bit alone out here on my own. I do a lot of filming trying to better myself, but lately I have felt that Billy and I are stagnant. There is no movement in our horsemanship.  Meanwhile Billy is getting more and more unconfident around me, then I am getting more unconfident and I can see this is an unhealthy cycle to be in.

So I stepped out of my comfort zone and went searching for some hands on, non Parelli help.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t plan on leaving Parelli connect. I just think I need something else, something that Parelli is not providing for me right now. I need a different plan to help me get into Billy’s head and find some answers.

A few of the games have escalated Billy’s emotional upset. He has become more reactive and at the same time shut down. It’s an interesting combination and one that I feel is quite volatile. Maybe this is what a couple of the Parelli professionals saw this summer.  They both felt that I wasn’t capable of helping Billy through it. But I am my only option as I can not afford to send Billy away. So I have to figure it out. If they are not able to hold my hand a bit through this then I will have to find help elsewhere.

This whole thing is WAY out of my comfort range. I have struggled with this since August.  I’ve gone back and forth, I’ve looked and looked for answers on my own. I’ve come up short. I think the hands on help is necessary right now to help both Billy and I through this rough spot.

I’m also very tired right now. My horse has become work and I haven’t been enjoying myself when I’m with him for a couple of months now. Not every session mind you. Some of our sessions have been really awesome. I just need that to happen more often than not.

I’m not sure what is going to happen with the non Parelli instructor. I’m not even sure if we will go work with her again, though I learned a lot in our session and I felt she was very helpful. I’m just not sure if it’s the right fit yet.

I do know that I am continuing to search out answers. I have lots of questions and with some time I will find the answers. In the mean time Billy and I will go back to square one on a few things and I plan on slowing things way down. I definitely want to take the time it takes so it takes less time later on.


  1. Hello I am a virtual coach, consultant and trainer of humans. Check out my new Draft website, I am a home school student of Parelli. I am not an instructor of Parelli. I have helped 56 people for free via skype and their videos, and mine all over the world. Would you like to skype with me for free for 30 minutes? My skypename is Donkeywhispererfarm2010 and my new business name is Donkey Whispererer Farm, LLC I am physically disabled after a semi-truck accident but I am going back to work. I know I can help you! Melody

  2. I’m so very curious about this Mindy…. Everytime I strat having trouble you’ve been at it alerady and writing about it. This fall have been chaotic for me, My mental and emotional fitness has been very bad due to some personal stuff, and that has coloured my time with Harry and he’s become very emotional and stressed.
    He’s started to bolt and break loose on the long line again, and even when doing small simple things he already knows it’s like he’s “Fcuk this! I’m outta’ere!” and often at the very point I’m about to ask him in again.

    And also since I’ve started to play with his expression, he’s gone about looking like a viper or a angry old man when asking him things, and he’s been very aloof but when i adress that he gets really upset!
    The online work/play is very bad right now, but the freestyle/finesse works ok. Found a great traditional dressage rider/trainer/judge that I’ve ridden for a couple of times and that has made Harry happier with me as a rider,..

    And I agree, it’s not the program that is not working, it’s us. We little humans that doesn’t get things right…

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