i am always reading, watching videos, learning.  i feel that there is so much information out there, always something more to learn or think about.  my horsemanship pushes me to be a better person all the time.  every day i try to be better than i was the day before.

i often evaluate my personal goals with my horse.  for the last few years passing my level 4 online, liberty, freestyle and finesse was tops on my list.  i had a secret desire to be a parelli instructor…

i have spent a long time this past summer re-evaluating those goals.

first i thought about why i wanted to pass my level 4.  was this for me or for my horse?  ultimately what would it prove if my horse can canter 10, 20 or 40 laps in the circle game?  would i be pushing to accomplish this at the expense of our relationship?  for me and for billy i feel the answer is yes.

passing my level 4 is totally and completely for ME.  being a level 4 horse will not change how billy feels about himself.  but it may change how he feels about ME.

at the same time, not allowing him to come to me and ask me to scratch his itches or have his own opinion about things, not honoring his awesome ideas when we play, not allowing him to come in and seek comfort beside me… all these “rules” feel wrong as well.  (these rules are from other natural horsemanship programs.  the horse must always have both eyes on you, can not look around, can not come in if he’s worried, can never reach in and seek your touch. these are not part of the parelli program.  they actually encourage our horses to seek contact all the time. especially if they are worried!)

so where does that leave me?

i guess billy and i are going to be marching to the beat of our own drummer.

who am i kidding!?  we have been for quite some time!

i do believe that billy is a different horse.  how?  i’m not sure.  i can not put my finger on it, but those that have met him in person either “get” him, think he is awesome, smart, handsome and funny OR they don’t get him and they tell me he is dangerous, is going to hurt me and others and I most definitely should NOT ride him.


i am riding him.  at my own pace.  it’s slow.  we walk.  he picks me up at the fence and we meander around the playground.  but i am riding him.

he is funny, smart, sassy and comes up with the BEST variations of our patterns and games.  he lets me know when he understands something and feels confident enough to tell me when he doesn’t without blowing up, going RBE or running me over.  he is confident enough to leave chloe without any whinnying or calling to her.  even when she is screaming for him.  he is content to be with me.

…the other day i was trimming his feet and chloe SPOOKED, running out of the pen.  billy was completely at liberty, just hanging out with his foot on the hoof stand.  he didn’t bat an eye or move an inch when she thundered off.  just stood there happy to stay with me.  he didn’t even raise his head!

…today when i was just hanging out with them in the field, walking around looking for weeds to pull by hand and studying the gigantic ant hills in our pasture, again, chloe gave a mighty spook and took off down the field.   billy ran straight to me, turned and looked, didn’t see any reason to run so just hung out by me.  eventually chloe came cantering back to us.  this is priceless to me.  it makes me think that i’ve been doing something right.

so what are my goals?  i do believe that having goals is important, though not at the expensive of my relationship… (of course.  no one i know would put the goals before the horse, so to speak.)

1) be able to go trail riding safely.

2) be able to ride with others on the trails.

3) feel confident on his back.

4) get my core back in shape.  if i never have a skinny butt again, i don’t care as long as i feel safe and strong on his back.

5) play at liberty in our 10 acre field and have billy never want to leave me.

chloe too!!!  she loves liberty BECAUSE she can leave 😉

6) always, always put my relationship first.

7) and always laugh with my horse and appreciate him for exactly who he is.



  1. This is wonderful and I know exactly how you feel. There are a lot of people who don’t understand what I do with Estella. They think I should ask more of her and I don’t. We just walk and trot and I’m okay that we don’t canter five laps on the 22. I always encourage both of us to be better and if she offers that’s great and if its only.minimal improvement that is fine too. I feel comfortable with what we do and we are bith happy and that’s really all that matters. No need to march to the beat of someone elses drum 😉

    1. sometimes i feel so alone out here as my neighbors all think i’m weird. sigh. also their horses are CRAZY so i don’t need to be riding with them anyway 😉

      then i talk with my parelli friends and remember that we are all on the same page. it’s so refreshing!

  2. I resonate with this post in so many ways! my last audition was October 2011 and then I realized it was all for ME and not for my horse.

    I sincerely appreciate the foundation that PNH gave to me and I continue to study privately with an Instructor, but the focus is no longer on obtaining MY Level 4, the focus is all about keeping Pip happy and healthy!

    1. absolutely agree heather! i will also continue to have lessons with my favorite parelli instructors, Ethan Zimmerman and Lorri Roy, when i can. they live a ways away from me 😦 and i hope to be able to stay emotionally fit enough to seek out help from a few non parelli instructors that resonate with me and billy as well. i will always want to learn to be a better human for billy! that is tops on my list, every day.

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