Alrighty!! I'm back!! Having survived my first plane trip, i have returned to write my review of equitana.
The plan trip scared the shit out of me. Our flight got cancelled, then moved forward an hour, we then got that flight cancelled, and eventually were put on a flight leaving 3 hours later than the original flight. Not a good start for a first time flyer. Turbulance was BAAAAAAD. The travel sick tablets helped *a bit*...
Anyway. Day one of equitana, We saw Pat!!!! He entered the arena on two miniature ponies, and proceeded to give a talk to people about WHY we do the things we do to horses, and how we got this way. He talked about military traditions, ego, and "bovine fecal matter" It was a really good talk, and i was really looking forward to the clinic that he was holding the following day.
We also managed to see a few other Natural Horsemen over the 4 day, Guy Maclean, Greg Powell, and Wrangler Jane to name a few. Guy & Greg spoke highly of Pat, and praised the students that were studying under his program.
I thoroughly enjoyed their clinics, Guy did some FANTASTIC liberty work with his buckskins, If you haven't seen him, get onto youtube and google him. It will blow your mind.
When greg first held his clinic on the first day, he told us that his best horse, his favourite horse would not be performing, as two days before equitana he had suffered a puncture wound to the fetlock. He had bought the horse along, but was on strict stall rest. On the final day however, the vets cleared him to bring his horse out. Greg dropped the bombshell that this equitana would probably be his last equitana. I couldn't beleive it, I'd only just met the guy, and already he was moving on! he went on to say, that when his best horse hurt himself, he was seriously worried, he was worried about what he was going to do at equitana, and how the show would go, how the clinic would go, and whether his other horses would be able to "step up to the plate" so to speak. he went on to say that, he had taken his horse for a leasurely trail ride, instead of training to let him relax before the big trip, when he hurt himself. So when it happened he was pretty shocked.
He then went onto say, that it wasn't till a while after that he realized what he was saying. He realized that when his horse hurt himself, his FIRST thought was "Aw shit, what am I going to do for equitana" When it should have been "Aw shit, is my mate going to be alright", and that that realization had caused him to take a step back and re-evaluate his priorities.
Very powerful words. Very powerful words indeed. He went onto say that it had been a long 4 days, he was tired, his horses were tired, they had performed SO WELL over the equitana long weekend, and that he had to take responsibility for the fact that they were tired, and deal with the horses that showed up.
He managed to put on a spectacular show that never once encroached on the dignity of the horses. We laughed our heads off at the different horsenalities of his horses, and how they interacted, the relationship they all had was just fantastic! I found both Greg and Guy (who are incidently good mates) to be very honest and decent horsemen who put their horses needs and feelings first.
Pat Parelli held his main clinic on the second day of equitana. Both Linda and Pat were presented with two "trouble" horses. Both shyed a lot, and were generally tricky horses. The audience voted, Pat got the RBE and linda got the RBI. It was a brilliant 2.5 hours. By the end of it, BOTH managed to get their horses to jump a jump, walk over a tarp, stand with the big green ball on their backs and trailer load. The changes in the horses were amazing just in that short amount of time. There was a very very very funny moment where Pats horse saw himself on the bigscreen. he started calling out to himself, and was totally engrossed in this "other horse" it was very funny and had the audience in stitches.
Pat suggested that his next two talks would include the horse he was working on, the RBE. The next day, he told the audience, the horse met him at the stall entry and couldn't wait to come out. The change in the horse was alarming. He was so much calmer. Just in that short amount of time, he asked very little of the horse, just ensured that the lessons that were learnt yesterday had stuck (which they had). The horse, who nearly left the planet the previous day every time someone applauded, seemed a lot calmer every time we applauded.
On the final day, he bought the horse out again. He was practically left brained the entire time. It was amazing. I also noted the progression in Pats talk he was having with the audience. Over the previous 3 days his message was all sugar coated, all about what Parelli was about, and the how and why of horse tradition, he spoke about reading horses, and the horses dignity, and made everything all happy happy joy joy.
On the final day, he got down to business. He mentioned that after his clinic on Day two, he had seen a seven year old girl, on a small gray pony, complete with bridle, martingale and drop nose band, kicking the SHIT out of this horse and SCREAMING at it because it wouldn't go forward.
Pat said his heart broke. That such bad habits and "tradition" were being taught so young.
He went onto say that he had seen more hardware per horse head than he could imagin. Horses in double bridles with martingales, tied downs, drop nose bands, tieing the horse down, tieing his mouth shut, shutting him up in a tiny little box. I can't remember the exact word he used, but he said that it was something like revolting .. but stronger. At this point a few people left, there were a few infront of me that turned their nose in the air and wandered off. The person behind me filled in for Pat, and muttered the phrase "its like watching rape". I turned to her and said "you're damn right"
Pat went onto say that the first person had been jailed recently for cutting his horses tongue off, all in the name of winning. The people behind me gasped. I told them that it was the truth, and that they needed to watch the Liberty & Horse Behaviour set. Pat basically put it out there, that this behaviour was unacceptable and needed to stop. He challenged people to use the following filters from now on until forever when looking at the things we do to horses:
1/ Would the trainers / riders mother be proud of them watching their son / daughter
2/ Would the HORSES mother be proud watching his son / daughter being trained?
Very poweful words.
I might also add that I was exposed completely to the things that Pat spoke about over the weekend. I have watched the LHB set, and heard Linda talking about displaced behaviour, frothing mouth, tongue sticking out of the mouth, swishing tail etc etc.
I saw it everywhere i looked. Everywhere, except the natural horsemen horses. It was very disturbing.
At the showjumping displays, horses rushed jumps. Horses with their tongues sticking out. Tails swishing in time with their strides. EVERY SINGLE HORSE FROTHING AT THE MOUTH.
It was sickening.
One night they held a rodeo, it was falsely advertised as a "Western Spectacular" We thought we were going to see reining and the like. But no such luck. Horses going down in their chutes, steers and bulls going down in their chutes, Horses being chased by the bulls, and the horrific results that had on the horses mentality.
The total and utter lack of respect for the horse, and the lack of ability to read the horse.
My friend and I couldn't bear it, and left by 10pm.
Overall, I was impressed with equitana, I bought some great deals, and I was able to meet two fantastic natural horsemen, BOTH from Australia.
I got to see Pat & Linda, and was able to meet Pat. I'm glad I went, and I'm glad for the experience. I just hope that more people were exposed to the Natural Horsemanship message and are considering making the change.
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