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March, 2011

Like many of you I was entranced by the Road to the Horse competition just a couple weeks ago. What a "show" it was! The crowd was full of Parelli students and friends, as well as cheering supporters of the other two clinicians. It was an exuberant, fun crowd - and amid all the noise, tension, competition, and commotion, Pat kept his head about him and his heart in his hand as he started a relationship and developed a partnership with his 3 year-old colt. His performance was a marvelous display of natural horsemanship and generous sportsmanship. I've never been prouder to be a Parelli student and professional! A personal "high" for me was getting to see so many of my students from all over the U.S., many of whom I haven't seen in years. It was such fun to see them again and have my fond memories refreshed by renewed connections!

You may also be aware of the launch of the Parelli Foundation, a non-profit corporation, the purpose of which is to contribute to equine rescue centers, handicapped riders, kids' horsemanship programs, and scholarships for future Parelli Professionals. The Foundation is an extension of Pat's vision and his mission to help the world become a better place for horses and human, for generations to come.

Yet another exciting development is Parelli's partnership with the American Competitive Trail Horse Association and the "America's Favorite Trail Horse" auditions coming up all around the country next month. I hope many of youhave registered for this - it's a perfect event for Parelli horses and students! Or, even if you don't participate, go support those you know. Perhaps it will be your neighbor's horse who will become America's Favorite Trail Horse!


Just think; each time you watch a Parelli DVD, take a lesson, or participate in a clinic you're heading down your own "road to the horse" and meeting fascinating characters - human and equine - along the way. My sincere hope is to see as many of you as possible this coming season, which will soon be upon us! I've been riding nearly every day in my CoverAll indoor arena since returning from Tennessee - doing an indoor version of "hill therapy" to help my horses get back into shape after a long winter.    




And as I ride I've been keeping in mind all that I learned from Pat and Linda while in Florida these past few months. With so many new ideas I can hardly wait for the clinic season to begin, can hardly wait to pass along more savvy to my students.  In fact, the first event at my place is coming up next month - on April 22 is the first in the series of Liberty and/or Finesse lessons for Level 3 and Level 4 students. I've re-figured the pricing (you now know why I wasn't a math major!) to make it more affordable, so be sure to read all about it below. The Level 2, 3, and 4 clinics are filling up - so get your calendar organized soon!


Nita Jo Rush  Stay Savvy,

  Nita Jo Rush
  4-Star Senior Parelli Professional
Can You?

Can you, from zone 3, ask your horse to glide sideways for at least 20' without a fence just by touching "the hair"? 


Can you ride your horse sideways without a fence for at least 20' with your arms folded (no reins)?  This month's "Can You?" coincides nicely with a question from Christina in New York.  Here is what she writes:  

"My horse and I are playing with sideways - we can do all sorts of sideways on the ground when she is moving away from me (over barrels, over poles) and are starting to be able to do a little sideways without a barrier.  I would like to start to teach her to do a sideways towards me and I have no idea how to go about it.  Also, in the saddle we can't get a single step sideways - all she does is back up until I have to release and that is making her think that she's doing the right thing.  I am trying to support my request for sideways with my carrot stick, but that just makes her defensive."

The advice I gave Christina was to develop her horse's Porcupine Game going sideways on the ground before trying again to teach this from his back. Most of us give Game #2 short shrift; playing it can indeed be a bit like watching paint dry! It's often the game we enjoy least. Yet, assuming your horse's confidence is in place, riding depends on. . . a good Porcupine Game! Riding with safety, fun, confidence, ease, and excellence depends on your horse turning loose to the  light feel of your seat, leg, and hands.

As Pat says, "the better your horse goes backwards, right and left, the better he does everything else." Yielding to steady pressure is something we have to teach horses because it goes against their prey animal instincts. A responsive, light, soft horse is a joy to be with, handle, and ride. The more communication we have with his various body parts, the better. That's why all four of the Levels contain increasingly sophisticated versions of the Porcupine Game. Can you lead your horse by her lip? By his ear? By his tail? Can you lead her backwards by her hocks? Sideways by her mane? Can you ask for backwards and get a response in the proper position (not just feet moving)? 

Emotionally braced and head too high
Ahh. . .that's better

I also suggested to Christina that she set aside teaching "sideways toward" until she has these very nice Sideways Games: a gliding Porcupine Game sideways, the Sideways Game (which is a driving game) at distance and speed,  and riding sideways smoothly and easily. Before Level 4, the main purpose for teaching sideways toward is to be able to ask your horse help you get on by lining himself up with the fence or mounting block. Doing more than that with sideways towards early on in your development can cause all sorts of problems and difficulties.

How To

It's relatively easy to cause horses to move their feet with various driving games because they respond naturally to rhythmic pressure. You can use what is natural in this case to support what you need to teach:  support Porcupine Game with Driving Game, use rhythm to support "follow a feel." Once your horse has the idea, however, do learn to win the Porcupine Game by developing positive reflexes to your touch (combined with your energy and intention). You want your horse to move over easily to the side just with fingers at phase one or a light phase two.


(Think of how easily and smoothly you can push a toy boat in water or roll a ball across a hardwood floor.) You'll create this sensitivity just as you have for every other form of communication: energy, intention, a long phase 1, quickly through phases 2 and 3 to an effective phase 4. Become aware of how often you ask your horse to follow a feel just in the course of feeding, leading, handling, riding out.  Every time you pick up that rope and take the slack out, you are playing the Porcupine Game; when mounted, every time you lift up your core (your energy) and "smile with all four cheeks" you are playing the Porcupine Game, every time you lift a rein and move it off center you are asking your horse to follow a feel.

And remember, if your horse moves without you actually touching her, or moves in anticipation of your touch,  that's not the Porcupine Game because there is no "feel" to follow! Rub your horse to a stop, gain his confidence and help him relax, then ask for movement with "touch the hair." You should be able to put your hands in position to prepare for sideways, for example, and have nothing happen as long as your energy is low and your intention is turned off.

My body is relaxed, my focus is slightly down, my energy is low, my intention is "off".

Keeping your hands in place,  raise your energy (literally stand up taller and lift your belly-button), turn on your intention and see what happens

Here, my life/body is "up", my focus is long and forward, my energy is up and my intention is turned on.

If she moves sideways at all, release! And smile. :) If he doesn't move, then continue with your energy and intention while increasing your phases until, if necessary, you are "touching" bone.


A critically important version of the Porcupine Game, which we first learn right away in Level 1, will be the subject of next month's "Can You?" and will help address a question from a student about the virtues (or not) of riding in a bit. Stay tuned! 

Volume 2        Issue: 3  

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Parelli Connect 
Parelli Connect is the Parelli Natural Horsemanship program's digital campus where
you'll find everything you need to help direct your horse's foundation training for horsemanship foundation Levels 1 through 4.

Parelli Connect is designed to make it easy for you to find new friends within the program with which to share not only your own wall updates but also that of your horse via your horses' own wall too!


$999 for Liberty or Finesse Lesson Series or $1,599 for both! 

Liberty & Finesse Lesson Series  



6 monthly lessons, 3 hours each, 6 students maximum with focus for Level 3 and Level 4 students on Liberty and Finesse. No, wait!  It's seven lessons - the 7th is FREE!    


Each date is a Saturday: Lesson times are 10:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. for Liberty and 2:15 p.m. - 5:15 p.m. for Finesse. These are two separate groups and you are welcome to sign up for either or both. This is a package, so it's all or nothing - in or out. 


Students are welcome to audit the half-day in which they do not participate. Beverages and water, as well as picnic space, will be provided.  


Dates are: April 23, May 21, June 11, July 9, August 13 & September 3.   


BONUS: free lesson day for both groups combined on October 1, 2011 (10:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.)


Buy Now 

Liberty or Finesse Lesson Series $999


Buy Now 


BOTH Liberty and Finesse Lesson Series for only $1,599!


 Can't do all 6 lessons? 

Contact Nita Jo for 'a la carte' options! 

Nita Jo's
2011 Teaching
& Training Schedule
March 13 - 20

March 27 - April 1
Private Clinic, Morriston, Florida

April 8 - 10 

Magniifcat Farm,
Clinton Corners, New York
Private and small group lessons Levels 1 - 4 available for all Parelli students, whether beginner or studying Level 4, for focused, intensive study in private lesson or small group format.
Contact: Barbara Appolonia at 845-594-9915 or [email protected] for more information or to register.  


April 15 - 17

Midwest Horse Fair, Madison, Wisconsin


April 23

Nita Jo's Place, Bowlus, Minnesota

Liberty & Finesse Lesson Series with Nita Jo 


April 29 - May 1

Minnesota Horse Expo, St. Paul, Minnesota

Minnesota State Fairgrounds

Note: Pat Parelli will be there Saturday, April 30th to give a demo!

May 6 - 8

Nita Jo's Place, Bowlus, Minnesota

3-day Eddo Hoekstra Dressage Clinic

Contact: Nita Jo Rush at 612-581-0240 or [email protected] for more information or to register.  


May 13 - 15

Corrales, New Mexico   

Friday, May 13th - Lesson Day ~ Levels 1-4, all 4 Savvies: Level 1 'Focus on Fundamentals' ~ Level 4 'Focus on Finesse' 

May 14 - 15: 2-day Level 2+ Advancing/Level 4  Clinic for those who are eager to  dig into Level 3 and Level 4, whether that means learning to be more provocative in your Online play, to advance your understanding of Liberty, to get a great seat connection in Freestyle, or  to  refine your riding with contact.  Hone your skills, deepen your partnership, and broaden your leadership with your horse while you develop his mental, emotional, and physical fitness even further!

Contact: Steve Komadina at 505-328-4696 or [email protected]  for more information on clinic or lesson day, or to register.  Click here to register for clinic via PayPal.  Contact Steve Komadina about lesson day.
Clinic Fee: $430


May 26 - 29

Nita Jo's Place, Bowlus, Minnesota

4-day Level 1A/Beginning Level 2 - Let's Get On - Let's Ride Clinic for those who are ready to improve their 7 Games online and move into playing with L2 Patterns on the 22' rope, as well as preparing to ride by learning more about: saddle fit and saddling, Pat's "pre-flight" checks, safety and control under saddle, and rein positions.  This is for you and the horse you can and do ride at home; no first rides for horses or humans!

Contact: Nita Jo Rush at 612-581-0240 or [email protected] for more information or click here to register via PayPal.
Clinic Fee: $880


May 30 - June 14

Opening for horse in training.  Email [email protected] for more information.

June 22 - 26

Nita Jo's Place, Bowlus, Minnesota

5-day Level 2/Level 2A - Getting Going: Let's Go - and Whoa! 

Contact: Nita Jo Rush at 612-581-0240 or

[email protected] for more information or click here to register via PayPal.

Clinic Fee: $1,100

July 1 - 3

Nita Jo's Place, Bowlus, Minnesota

3-day Eddo Hoekstra Dressage Clinic

Contact: Nita Jo Rush at 612-581-0240 or [email protected] for more information or to register.


July 13 - 17

Nita Jo's Place, Bowlus, Minnesota

5-day Refinement Level 3/Level 3A - Getting Good: Let's Get Our "Good". . .Better!

Contact: Nita Jo Rush at 612-581-0240 or [email protected] for more information or click here to register via PayPal.
Clinic Fee: $1,100


July 23 - 24

Nita Jo's Place, Bowlus, Minnesota

2-day Craig Johnson FUNdamentals of Reining Clinic

Contact: Nita Jo Rush at 612-581-0240 or [email protected] for more information or to register.


August 3 - 7

Nita Jo's Place, Bowlus, Minnesota

5-day Level 4 - Getting Great: Let's Get Our Better. . .Best!

Contact: Nita Jo Rush at 612-581-0240 or [email protected] for more information or click here to register via PayPal.

Clinic Fee: $1,100 

August 19 - 21

Nita Jo's Place, Bowlus, Minnesota

3-day Eddo Hoekstra Dressage Clinic

Contact: Nita Jo Rush at 612-581-0240 or [email protected] for more information or to register.


August 23 - September 5

Opening for horse in training.  Email [email protected] for more information.

September 16 - 18
Magniifcat Farm,
Clinton Corners, New York
Advancing Refinement (Level 3A)/Fundamentals of Performance (Level 4) Clinics

Contact: Barbara Appolonia at 845-594-9915 or [email protected] for more information or to register.


Clinics in October and November to be announced later.


* Dates are subject to change depending on the Parelli tour schedule in 2011 and any other unforeseen events. *

  ~ Auditors Welcome ~   
Click on PayPal button below to buy your auditor passes ~ $35/day 

(Select the number of days you want to audit in the Quantity box.)

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