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« How Thinking Outside the Box Helped Our Clients - and How it Can Help Yours! | Main
Tuesday
Mar082011

Natural Horsemanship, Parelli and Their Influence on Equine Assisted Psychotherapy & Learning

Richard & Shannon KnappThere's no doubt that for me, Pat and Linda Parelli have done more to improve my skills as an EAGALA-model Equine Specialist and to support the field of Equine Assisted Psychotherapy & Learning than any other Natural Horsemanship practitioner out there.

And based on the research I've been conducting, you think so too.

I've spent the past few months interviewing many different equine specialists who practice EAGALA-model EAP/EAL, as well as many different therapists and horse professionals in an effort to find answers to questions like:

  • What are the responsibilities of the ES to the client? To their co-facilitator?
    To the horse(s)?
  • What are the key characteristics of a quality equine specialist?
  • How do you select and support a great EAP/EAL horse?

I've also had a survey out there gathering data on equine specialists (click here to participate!), as I seek to determine basic demographics about who is in this field and what their influences and backgrounds are. Some interesting data has appeared as a result, which I'm eager to share in my new book, due later this year.

One fact I have found is striking, but not surprising. In the survey, one of the questions asks: "Who among the following horsemanship practitioners/trainers are you most aligned with, philosophically?" The survey then lists many of the folks most associated with the "Revolution In Horsemanship", as Dr. Robert Miller termed it in his excellent book of the same name. Among those listed are Tom Dorrance, Ray Hunt, Mark Rashid, Sally Swift, Carolyn Resnick, Bill Dorrance and many others.

To date, the #1 practitioner that folks in the EAP/EAL field feel "primarily aligned" with philosophically is Pat Parelli.

I came to the EAP/EAL field and to Parelli at approximately the same time over a decade ago, and found the philosophies of EAGALA and Parelli Natural Horsemanship to have significant, important similarities in how they approached both the horses and the clients, and how they both seek to empower the client without sacrificing the dignity of the horse.

Both have had a profound impact on the practice of EAP/EAL at Horse Sense: Parelli on our horse behavior and body language reading skills, and EAGALA on the client-centered, solution-focused approach we employ with clients. But the more I learn about both practices (never-ending self-improvement!!), the more crossover and cross-pollination I see, in all our affairs.

My husband Richard has spent significant time in Colorado and in Florida at the Parelli Study Centers, and has to date become a 2-Star Parelli Instructor. He has recently begun teaching at our farm when Horse Sense isn't in session, and I get the opportunity to support him in the way he's supported me in EAGALA-model EAP/EAL for so many years.

Because of this, I also get to see, on an ever-deeping level, the extent of the connection between Parelli and EAP/EAL practices.

Richard and I also consider ourselves to be students of Linda Parelli as much as we are students of Pat. Linda has such a sophisticated understanding of how to support the learning process for horses and humans, and has the ability to translate what Pat sees and understands to all of us. It's a gift that I believe make Parelli the best home-study program ever for Natural Horsemanship.

It's for this and for many other reasons that Richard and I are getting ready to host a Parelli & Equine Assisted Practices gathering at the Horse Sense farm April 1-3. Our goal is to bring together EAP/EAL professionals and those passionate about Parelli for conversation about the crossover and the cross-pollination possible, for the good of horses and humans everywhere and our own enrichment as professionals in both fields.

If you'd like to be a part of this conversation, please join our Parelli & EAPractices Mailing list using the Subscription form in the left-hand column of this page. If you'd like to join us at the Horse Sense farm in April for the Parelli & Equine Assisted Practices gathering, please watch our Calendar Page as Registration will open soon. By the way, if you are a subscriber to our Parelli & EAPractices Mailing list, then you will be notified when registration opens and won't miss any other exciting announcements!  :)

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