Parelli Natural Horsemanship

The Parelli natural horsemanship approach has been developed by husband and wife team Pat and Linda Parelli.

Natural Parelli Horsemanship is about building trust and confidence between the trainer and the horse. As with all natural horsemanship approaches it is as much about retraining humans as it is about training horses.

The underlying principle behind the programme is that trainers and riders need to learn new ways of communicating with their horse in order to achieve better and more productive results.

The overall aim of the Parelli programme is to raise the standard of horsemanship across the globe by introducing alternative and natural partnership methods.


Pat Parelli

Pat Parelli is an American trainer from a cowboy background and is an expert in natural horsemanship, once you have got beyond his showmanship.

He started his journey back in the late 1980s and has been adapting and developing his programme ever since.

The following video provides an overview of his style and gives you an idea of how he works and the effects of his teaching on horses.

Pat has developed a number of resources to explain his methods including this book which explains his model built on Six Keys to Natural Horsemanship

Pat Parelli natural horsemanship Natural Horse-Man-Ship: Six Keys to a Natural Horse-Human Relationship (A Western Horseman Book) Revised edition by Pat Parelli, Kathy Swan (2003) Paperback

The six areas covered in the book are;

  • attitude
  • knowledge
  • tools
  • time
  • techniques
  • imagination.

Pat has also developed this model further and added a seventh step which is support.

Much of Pat’s current work on horsemanship techniques is supported by the input from his wife Linda, and her work on studying horse personality.


Linda Parelli

Linda Parelli has a very different background to Pat because she was from a Pony Club background and a Dressage rider originally. She came across Pat’s clinics and saw it as a last hope option for her then untrainable thoroughbred.

Several years later Linda no longer competes, but devotes her life entirely to working with other riders to promote the methods that she uses alongside Pat. She also does a lot of writing to document Pat’s teaching, so it is widely accessible through as many different sources as possible.


Horses as Predatory Animals

Most of the teaching in natural horsemanship starts by explaining that horses are naturally predatory or flight animals. Most of their behaviour stems from this natural instinct to flee from any perceived danger.

When we are working with horses we need to understand this instinct and be able to reassure the horse that it is ok to go against their natural response and instead to develop trust in us to protect them.


Understanding Horses

The other key aspect of the Parelli teaching is to understand the different roles that the horse owner plays in their horse’s education. Linda Parelli describes three aspects that all horse riders need to develop. She describes how all riders are;

  • part behaviourist – develop a good understanding of the horse’s personality and be able to design training programmes using this knowledge.
  • part trainer – develop good clear communication skills.
  • part psychologist – understand the psychology of how your horse thinks and if necessary use reverse psychology to encourage him to try something new.

Linda states that it is only by combining these three skill areas together that you begin to understand the real principles of horsemanship.


One of the things that the Parellis teach is called horsenality, or understanding the personality types of horses.

horsenality chart

The chart shown here explains the four different types of horse personality, which are based on the model of human personality types

  • left brain extrovert
  • right brain extrovert
  • left brain introvert
  • right brain introvert

Each of the different personality types has a different way of learning and will respond better to a specific training approach.

It is therefore very important that you can assess your own horse’s personality and determine which training approach is the best option.

Parelli Boxset – 10 DVDs

For real Parelli fans there is a box set version of 10 DVDs and booklets, that cover all the basic elements that Parelli teaches.

Parelli box set

Parelli Success Series (10 Dvd Box Set) with Booklets

  1. Horsenality
  2. Seven games
  3. Safe ride
  4. Natural Rider
  5. Natural attraction
  6. Liberty
  7. Calm ride
  8. Ride out
  9. Natural Collection
  10. Natural Lead Changer

You can also read more about Pat and Linda Parelli and their work on their website

I hope you enjoyed this article and  if you have any particular aspect of Parelli teaching that you would like to see discussed please feel free to leave a comment in the section below, it’s always great to hear from you.


Further Reading

There are some other articles on Natural Horsemanship techniques on this site that may be of interest, including;


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