A day in the life of Linda Parelli
Tuesday 13 July 2010
What time do you get up?
I get up between 7am and 8am in the morning unless we are shooting videos early!
What do you have for breakfast?
Usually I’m not a breakfast eater. If I do, it will be yoghurt with a bunch of supplements stirred in, or I'll have a cleansing juice of lemon, maple syrup, cayenne pepper and water!
What is your ethos on your own nutrition?
I really try to take care of myself, eat well, take supplements. I don't want to take medicines so prevention is really important to me. Sometimes I forget to take my essentials and sometimes I don't do enough if I've got a very busy weekend event... but I always make sure my horse gets his nutrients!!
Are you a tea or coffee drinker? or neither?
Neither. I love the smell of coffee, hate the taste!
Do you live on your yard?
My horses are next to my house, I love it that way. I can look out of the window and see them in their pasture. Seeing as I work from home, that's where I do most of my writing, it means I can study their behaviour and habits too.
How long does it take you to get to the yard?
From my front door, about 1 minute!
What time do you get to the yard?
I feed my own horses, so that's the first thing I do, before I have my breakfast. My little dachshund, Vinny, comes with me. He knows the drill.
What is the first thing you do when you get on the yard in the morning?
About two hours after I feed is when I'll go play with my horses. Sometimes that's not until late in the afternoon, but the morning is best otherwise work can get to feeling too urgent and that will mean I don't end up playing with them.
Do you have a routine of which horses you go to first?
Yes, my most advanced horse first - Remmer. Then I'll play with Allure.
What is your yard set up like? How much land? How many stables? What facilites?
In Colorado I have three stables that open out to the pasture, so the horses can come and go as they please. They often mosey back in during the early afternoon for a sleep. Their pasture in Colorado is about 15 acres and in Florida it is about four acres, and they just have a run-in shelter.
How many grooms do you have?
It's me! Unless we are on tour, then we have a team of mastery students who take care of our horses and learn about what it takes to be on the road, care for the horses and get them ready for their performances.
Are all the horses you have yours or do you have some in for clients?
My horses are my horses. Pat has about 70 horses and most of them are for teaching his mastery students everything from starting foals and young horses to horses progressing through their foundation, to English and Western performance horses, Driving horses and cow horses. There is also the handful of very challenging horses that are brought to us for help.
Do you muck out yourself?
Mostly not, they use the pasture and we have a man who takes care of the landscaping and keeps my horse area clean.
What bedding do you use and why?
Shavings. They are soft, absorbent and we can put them in the manure spreader.
What do you feed your horses and why?
I feed as naturally as possible, meaning unprocessed feeds. Whole oats, barley, sunflower seeds, bran, molasses, hay (alfalfa blend - not always needed in the summer because the grass is so good!).
What kind of exercise do your horses get on a daily basis? Do you ride daily?
I wish I could, but I play with my horses on the ground and or riding about 3 - 4 times per week. If it's more than that I'm lucky or Walter Zettl is here doing daily sessions with us!
What does your morning at the yard consist of?
Call my horses in, groom, play for a few minutes on the ground (on line or liberty) then saddle up and ride. Sometimes, if I don't have a lot of time or there's something I'm especially working on, I may only play on the ground and not ride.
What time do you break for lunch? What do you eat for lunch?
Lunch is around 1.30pm, and sometimes Pat is able to join me if he's not flat out. I always make something nice - a salad with tuna, proscuitto, nuts or gruyere cheese, a soup and occasionally a sandwich filled with fresh salad greens, tomato, avocado... something like that.
What does your afternoon consist of?
Usually I'm writing. That's the bulk of what I do - articles, mastery manuals, educational pieces. Sometimes we'll be producing DVDs for the Savvy Club and each week I spend a little time visiting the students or doing a demonstration for the class. Once a week I coach the mastery students, especially in areas like fluidity, horsenality and shimming saddles.
How often are you out on the road?
We used to do in excess of 50 events a year, but those days are well behind us now! We got down to 20 then 12 events, and this year we are only doing 7 - 5 in the USA, one in Australia, one in the UK – Royal Festival of the Horse! We also have two 'home' events for Savvy Club members - a preparing for performance event in Colorado, and a Savvy Club Conference and Rendezvous in Florida.
If you are out on the road what does your trip consist of? How far do you travel?
As I write, we are actually travelling home from our first event for the year in Virginia. It was about a 14 hour drive and we love to do that instead of flying. When it's longer we do fly unless we have a few days up our sleeve to do the travel. The good part is that being in the bus is like driving our house there! I can work away and Pat loves to drive and think. He's a very deep thinker!
What time do your horses get fed in the evening?
It varies a little. Somewhere between 5pm and 7pm. Same in the morning, I try not to make it at exactly the same time so the horses don't get into a strong pattern and get emotionally upset if you are a minute late! It really helps them be more calm and settled, not be so manic at feed time.
Do you check them late at night?
Not usually, unless I have to separate them for feeding in which case I have to let one out a couple of hours later.
What do you do in the evenings?
Evenings are 'our' time. I always cook a really nice dinner, not necessarily fancy, but something creative and healthy and delicious. Occasionally we'll go out for dinner with friends, but we tend to eat at home more than anything.
What do you have for dinner?
Some examples - Spaghetti Arabiata (I make it by roasting the chilli and garlic, using fresh tomatoes and herbs); Salmon Nicoise (roast the salmon, serve with steamed potatoes, haricots vert, capers, lemon, olive oil, dijon mustard); Thai curry chicken - I use a curry paste, add coconut milk, lime, lemongrass; Mmmmmm, I'm getting hungry writing about it!
Do you have to do a lot of admin work? If so what kind of things?
Not really, thankfully we have a super team that takes care of the business, allowing me to focus on the things that I do best for the organization.
What do you do to unwind after a hard day?
I cook! That's a creative time for me.
If you were to have a free evening what would be your ideal way to spend it?
Snuggled on the couch with Pat, watching a good movie. But that doesn't happen too often! Usually we get all excited talking about our day, our breakthroughs, new thoughts, etc.
What time do you go to bed?
Usually around 11 or 11.30pm
How do you juggle your family time?
Family is very involved with what we do! Pat's son, Caton rides with the mastery students every day. He has his three horses that are under development. Pat's father even plays with his horse on the ground every day in Florida! Then we get together with his mom and dad about once a week.
Do you have any other animals you have to look after?
We have our little chocolate-piebald, long-haired miniature dachshund, Vinny. He's the house dog and goes everywhere with us. Being a left-brain extrovert he just loves the activity and especially our events. Pat also has working cow-dogs that he trains every day with the horses and cattle, but they live up at his barn.
If you are out on a tour how does your day differ? Do you eat differently?
What's really different for me is that I don't do any writing during the event, only on the way there and on the way back like I'm doing now! Living in the bus means that we can eat as we do at home, so during our breaks I make lunch and then we either eat dinner in, or go to a local good restaurant.
Do you have any superstitious, or daily routines you simply have to do?
When was the last time you...
Months. Luckily, I have help there.
Poo picked a field?
Years! We drag the pastures, usually horse-drawn.
Rode in a competition?
1991. That was my last dressage competition and I won it. My performances now are more about teaching and inspiring horse lovers, and my never ending self improvement and quest for greater horsemanship satisfies my competitive drive, I'm self-competitive.
Came across a horse you found a real challenge?
My horse, Allure, is my real challenge! He is very complicated and hugely playful and that's always got me thinking and figuring out better ways to achieve harmony with him.
I honestly can't remember. I'm pretty emotionally fit these days :)
I do that every day.
What does 'playing' with your horses entail?
Because Parelli is 'way more than riding', I play on the ground (often at liberty) with fairly advanced concepts like flying changes, spins, passage, jumping a single barrel, stop and wait... etc. And when I ride, I have an attitude of 'play' because I want it to be a game that my horse enjoys and puts a lot of effort into rather than just being told what to do. So sometimes I ride on loose reins or bridle-less, and then I also practice my finesse and dressage, working on the basics of good contact and throughness while developing higher level manouevres
Why did you start the Parelli tours?
That is actually how Pat started, but it was doing lessons and then clinics. So we would tour the country (and Europe and Australia) doing clinics, but pretty soon the numbers started getting really big and we had to change our approach. So our Parelli events grew from that to the point that we now have thousands in the audience and we have a program that includes education and inspiration to show horse lovers how much is possible when you put the quality of the relationship with your horse first.
What does your typical demonstrations include?
It varies a lot! Sometimes it's highly inspirational where I talk about the problems I had in the past with horses and what drew me to Parelli... and then how it changed everything. And then I play with Remmer (my Dutch Warmblood, who used to be someone else's problem) at liberty, doing high level things, then I jump on bareback with a halter and lead rope tied into reins. I start with simple things and end up doing flying changes, jumping barrels and doing passage, then stand him on a pedestal. It's really fun and people are often very moved by Remmer's enthusiasm and the connection we have. I know it's what I always dreamed of having with horses!
Then other times they are highly education pieces, such as on the subject of Horsenality where I demonstrate the different characters of horses and how best to get on with them. Remmer is my Left Brain Introvert and he is hysterical. I show how slowly he needs me to start and then he offers me so much, he becomes a power house and this wonderful play-drive comes out in him.
What is your role in the demo's?
I think it's to show that mere mortals can do this too. Women really identify with me, they feel my love for the horse and see me living my dream and telling them how I did it. I also love it when things don't go smoothly because people see what to do, how to fix things without the horse feeling wrong and how it's really doesn't need to be a big deal for the human. So I would say it is both educational and inspirational.
What is your inspiring advice for horse lovers?
Don't take things so seriously! I remember how upset and frustrated I used to get when things weren't going well and at my first clinic with Pat he saw me trying to do something and obviously I had a fairly stern look on my face. "What's wrong?" he asked. "Well I just can't get him to do such and such!" I replied. "So?" said Pat, and rode off. I was floored. Gosh! I'd never thought of it like that. So what if I couldn't get it to happen right away, why make it a problem for my horse too. What's it going to be like next time if I do? So he really taught me to slow down and work on the ingredients and with enough patience in the beginning, incredible things show up later.
For further information visit www.parelli.com
*Material supplied courtesy of the Horsemart National magazine, July 2010 – available at all good stockists nationwide. Email firstname.lastname@example.org today for more info!
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