September, 2010

Greetings - and welcome to the first newsletter from "Nita Jo's Place." You'll be hearing from me monthly with news, tips, information, and encouragement to support you in your Parelli journey. There also is a place below for you to submit your questions. With all the electronic information and education available to us (Savvy Club, DVDs, RFD-TV, Parelli blogs, social media), it's sometimes difficult for students to know where to get started, what to study, learn or practice next. One of my goals for the newsletter is to help you access and use the abundant Parelli educational materials available to us. There is no better horsemanship and horse training program in the world! Even so, when your lives are busy with family, work, friends, chores, taking care of children or parents, it's sometimes a real challenge to stay focused and committed. Whether you're studying Level 1 or Level 4, whether you see your horse every day or once a week, I'll be for you a part of that 7th Key to Success: Support.

Staying connected with my students (whether or not we've ever met face-to-face) is one of the joys of my career as a Parelli Professional. I've met people all over the country, participated on the Savvy Team at tour stops since 1999 from Minnesota to Maryland to Colorado, taught hundreds of students, handled nearly as many horses, opened my own facility, studied for hours, weeks, months with Pat and Linda, moved up the professional ladder--and still, with all that, the friendship bonds with other horse-lovers matter the most.  

Hmmm, I could write the same thing about connections with horses, mine and those I've met over the years. More about that another time!

If you're like me, it's often a challenge to preserve the time to be with, play with, and ride my horses. There are so many competing interests and demands. I've always got a "to do" list. Transforming this newsletter from idea to reality is one of those things which has been on my list for a long time. I've needed support and encouragement from others - and a deadline! - to turn this "to do" into a "can do." My thanks for past and current support to Angie, Tina, and Sally! And, not least, my husband has been the best, most enduring source of support and inspiration.

Even though summer is fading, some of the best riding weather is upon us. I hope you make time for your horsemanship and your horse - learn and enjoy!

If you have a question for me about this or anything Parelli, please send me an email and I'll select one to answer in each month's newsletter. Remember, too - the Savvy Club vault is full of answers to a variety of questions from students over the years.

NJR  Stay Savvy,

  Nita Jo Rush
  4-Star Senior Parelli Professional
Can You?  Sometimes, I even have a "to do" list about my horsemanship! With that as well, turning those "to do" things into "can do" accomplishments is an effective way to stay progressive.

You may have been noticing the "Can You?" challenges I and other instructors have been offering at our clinics. I participated in these this past winter when I was studying at Pat's barn (as part of the Mastery Program). The experience was always fun, motivational, and full of rich feedback from my horses! My students have been enjoying them, too. And I've had fun creating them.

Here's one (which I didn't create - this sort of task has been a part of Parelli for as long as I can remember) you might enjoy:

Can you. . .turn your halter inside out (so you need to halter from your horse's right side, rather than left) and halter your horse while sitting on a bucket? Sounds simple - but may not be easy. :)

However this goes, your horse's behavior is just feedback for you. Practice with polite and passive persistence - make a program of it for 4 to 7 sessions in a row and you may be pleasantly surprised with the results. (Just stay safe - don't do this if you don't yet have your horse respecting your personal space.)
How To  As you practice this, you may be confronted with a question many students ask me: for how long should I practice this (or that)? - when do I know it's time to move on to something else with my horse?

These are excellent questions because they reflect that fact that you are sensitive to the idea of keeping the 7 Games fun and not turning them into the 7 drills. It's often not so much fun for us when we're trying hard to learn something new, plus we humans like to master things, look good, and "get it right."  So, answers like: "your horse will tell you when it's time to move on" or "you can work a horse for 20 minutes but you can play with one all day" capture the concept and tone of what we're after, but t
hey aren't specific enough for many students.

Here's one way to think about how to practice enough, be progressive, but not over-do it. It's called the Rule of Three. When you first play with your horse on any given day, assess the quality of his response to your communication and leadership the first time you ask for something.  Make that your "baseline" for that session; it doesn't matter much if things went far better yesterday or last week. What's going on right now is what counts the most. Then, ask for the same thing two more times and if on the third try, you and your horse have improved - move on! Do something else, then if you wish return to this (in 5 minutes, in an hour, tomorrow, next week) and apply the Rule of Three again.

If the quality of your horse's response to your communication and leadership on the third try is less than on the first or second - or just doesn't represent tangible improvement, then go for another three attempts. If you are constantly assessing what you are doing and your horse's feedback, more than likely you'll find that he's given you a better response after the second set of three. However, don't be dismayed if this isn't always so. Remember, "polite and passive persistence in the proper position prevents p-poor performance."

Keep in mind that improvement, not perfection, is your goal, and reward that earliest new try. Horses respond well to proper practice and rewarded repetition. Make the Rule of Three one of your patterns and I think you will be very happy with the results!

Issue: 1

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Upcoming Events

September 17-19, 2010
Nita Jo's Place, Bowlus, Minnesota
Three Day Harmony Level 2 Clinic
Contact: Tina Yorek at 320-232-0797 or [email protected] for more information or to register.

September 23-25, 2010
Clinton Corners, New York
Three Day Level 3/4 Clinic
September 26, 2010 - Level 1/2 Lesson Day
Contact: Barbara Appolonia at 845-594-9915 or [email protected] for more information, or to Register for this Clinic, click here.

October 15-17, 2010
Foxgate Farms, Columbus, Michigan
Level 2/3 Clinic: Building Confidence - Horse & Human and Lessons
Contact: Tammy Ghesquiere at 810-650-2732 or [email protected] for more information, or to Register for this Clinic, click here.

October 23-24, 2010
The Horse First Farm, Brooklyn, Wisconsin
Two Day Level 2/3 Clinic
Contact: Linda Arndt at 608-455-1805 or [email protected] for more information or to register.

November 5, 2010
River Farm, Leesburg, Virginia
Advancing Partnership Level 1A/Beginning L2 Clinic for those who are ready to improve their 7 Games online and move into playing on the 22' rope and with L2 Patterns.
Contact: Paul Haefner at 703-727-3205 or [email protected] for more information, or to Register for this Clinic, click here.

November 6-8, 2010
River Farm, Leesburg, Virginia
Refinement (L3)/Level 4 Clinic for those who are ready to dig into Online, Liberty and Freestyle riding in L3 to prepare for the challenges of L4! Also for L3 graduates (self-assessed or official) who want to hone their skills, develop elegance and delve into Finesse.
Contact: Paul Haefner at 703-727-3205 or [email protected] for more information, or to Register for this Clinic, click here.

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