Nita Jo Rush Logo
May, 2011

The 2011 season is well underway with an amazing variety of events, both real and virtual, for the enjoyment and education of us Parelli students and horse lovers. Many of you have watched, in person or by webcast, Pat's wonderful Colt Stating event in Texas earlier this month, have followed someone you know at the ACTHA America's Favorite Trail Horse competition, and are looking forward to the Wild Horse Taming event in Reno, Nevada in July.


The Parelli team has been busy in my area, too, with Pat making a special appearance at the Minnesota Horse Expo. What an enthusiastic and devoted crowd we had! Part of Pat's teaching and showmanship expertise is his ability to "wow" a crowd while demonstrating "how." During part of his demo, Pat had us play the Circling Game, while kneeling, as a demonstration of how well our horses--your horses--can learn their responsibilities when given the opportunity to develop them. We all want our horses to become every calmer, smarter, and braver. The Circling Game and its variations are crucial to that end. And, from that comes the Can You? this month! 


Circling Game while kneeling; with Pat at MN Expo  

 Early in May my Swedish warmblood mare, Malin, and I ventured out into the world of showing (my first time in nearly 20 years since I left regional reining competition) by going to a small, very Parelli-friendly event. Malin's talent in life is in the world of dressage and jumping, but we went, of all things, to an Extreme Cowboy Race! And, we had a blast!! After that event in the morning, the rest of the day was devoted to the Midwest Equine Agility Association's classes: negotiating the obstacle courses Online, at Liberty or riding. Perfect for Parelli students! Malin was wonderful--she showed her willingness to try anything whether by learning to trot down "Trash Alley" as if it were populated by caviletti, sticking to me zooming from obstacle to obstacle at Liberty in all three gaits, or by encountering the challenge of standing ground tied while I tended to Edward, the "injured" dummy.   


Malin at liberty with NJ and Edward the dummy.

I hope you're horsing around, playfully, learning lots, and inspiring each other with your and your horse's deepening partnership. And, I hope to see many of you in person this summer in beautiful Bowlus! 




Nita Jo Rush  Stay Savvy,

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

Can you send your horse out into the Circling Game at a brisk trot or canter while kneeling on the ground or sitting in a chair? Will she maintain gait and direction until you ask for a change? Can you ask him to change directions without getting to your feet? Will she stay on the circle when you let go of the rope?

There are many variations on this theme of the Circling Game--the game is in all 4 savvies and in Levels 1 through 4 and beyond, and there are many ways to "fancy it up". However, developing in your horse a consistent, reliable, good, excellent Circling Game is crucial for your horse learning his responsibilities. In fact, on the ground it is the best game, by far, for that! You get to do little, you get to be "lazy" (because you are not moving your feet and are just hanging out in the center), and your horse has the responsibility to: act like a partner, maintain gait, maintain direction, and watch where she's going.  


Elli maintains her responsibilities as Nita Jo allows her to do that.


As you develop your horse's ability to maintain his responsibilities while making nice, round circles for 4, 8, 16 laps or more (think 20+ if you're a L4 student), you're also helping him with impulsion, shape (being straight on the circle), and with his connection to you. You become the source of comfort in the center of the circle; when your horse wants to be with you he will shape himself correctly, he'll be in tune with you, and stick with you.

The difference between "mindless circling" and the Circling Game is that it IS a game: can you jump the barrels while circling? can you canter, trot, walk, stop, and back-up on the circle? Can you change direction while maintaining gait. Can you do this when your human does something goofy like kneel, sit in a chair--or even lie down!  

NJ circling Sadie during tournament during Savvy Conference, 2002
Pat challenged Nita Jo and others to play the Circling Game lying down during the Savvy Conference in 2002. I almost was able to successfully "talk" to Sadie about executing a change of direction and flying lead change! 

Or, you and your friends might add this variation on a theme as these advanced L2 students did during a clinic at my place.
Four-way Circling Game
Four-way Circling Game

How To ...  Begin 

 and how to move your Circling Game to riding.


First you learn how to play the basic Circling Game on your 12' and 22' ropes, and you develop your skills and understanding, your horse's willingness and obedience so he can and will make 4, 6, 8, 12, 16 nice circles--not just any old circles!There is lots of good information about this in your Levels DVDs beginning with Chapter 13 in the Level 1 DVD. Each level has information on Circling Game Online. Once you can play the game reasonably well on the 22' rope (standing up), try it sitting on a bucket or kneeling on the ground. You set yourself and your horse up for the Send just as you would if you were on your feet, with your horse far enough away for safety's sake and close enough for you to be effective. Here is Elli, my Atwood Ranch mare, getting ready for the game to begin.

Elli looks attentively at Nita Jo kneeling, preparing for Circling Game..   

No matter how it goes, the results will be feedback for you to consider as you improve your communication and leadership.

We play all 7 Games when we ride, too; and the Circling Game is one of the most important patterns. You'll find information about it also in the Levels DVDs and of course in the Parelli Patterns. Imagine those four responsibilities you are developing in your horse. Imagine how wonderful it feels to ride a partner who is with you in the saddle, who maintains gait (please canter--or walk--until I ask for a change), maintains direction (please circle--or go straight--until I ask for a change), and watches where she's going (there is that jump--or puddle--in our path; you manage it while I watch where we want to go). Imagine the mental, emotional, and physical fitness your equine partner gains from this! Circling, and being "straight on the circle" (bending to the shape of the arc), is critical to excellence in disciplines and sports. A circle can become a pirouette or a spin.
Clinic Fun
Practicing "perfect" circles during the Craig Johnson Reining clinic last year at my place.
And, just as you can add all sorts of variations to the circling theme when playing on the ground, you can do the same when riding. Make it fun, make it a game, no matter what your level of confidence or expertise. You can always put a few poles in the path of the circle, or use the Bulls-eye Pattern, or circle that tree or bush in the pasture. Your horse will appreciate it! And, you never know when circling savvy will come in handy when you least expect it.
EXCA FLC pattern.wmv
Circling, small jumps, and flying lead change.


Volume 2        Issue: 5    

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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!




Jet at liberty in 75' round pen




Liberty & Finesse Lesson Series  


* It's Not Too Late - Sign up Today! *


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!    


Can't do all 6 lessons? 


Contact Nita Jo to sign up for 'a la carte' options!

$266.50 per date for both liberty AND finesse lessons - that's about $45/hour for a small class with lots of individual attention! 




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.


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.  


Lesson 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.)




Nita Jo's
2011 Teaching
& Training Schedule    



Trailer loading fun from the top of the trailer!

Carrot Stick riding in pasture

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
Magnificat 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 ~   
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