Parelli is a type of training developed by Pat Parelli. It is a form of natural horsemanship and on their website it says "The Parelli approach is not to train horses, but to teach each horse owner to become his or her own horse trainer, and to succeed by building a relationship of trust with each horse". It seven different "games" that you carry out with your horse whilst training them. A long stick is often used during the training process. I have never tried to use Parelli but it does look like an interesting way of training horses. Click here to go to their website.
Below is a video of what Parelli is like. This shows some of the in hand work along with a horse being ridden without a bridle and saddle (this is how they are often ridden in Parelli).
Learning theories look at how information is absorbed, processed and retained. Positive reinforcement is when a reward is given when the horse gives the desired response, giving a treat is an example of this. Negative reinforcement is when a negative stimuli such as pressure is removed when the horse gives the desired response. An example of this would be applying pressure to the hind quarters of a horse in order to move them around then releasing the pressure as they move around. Negative reinforcement is often used when training horses to be ridden. Punishment may also be given as feedback in some cases in order to try to prevent a horse performing that behaviour again.
Habituation is when there is a decrease in a behaviour that is seen as a response to a repeated encounter with a stimulus. Therefore this is the horse "getting used to" things such as wearing a head collar or becoming less spooked by objects it sees on the yard on a day to day basis.
When applying these things to how Parelli works the following things can be noted;
- Parelli say that the do not use reward or punishment. They do however say they use positive and negative reinforcement. Their positive reinforcement is rubbing the horse and their negative reinforcement is applying pressure. There seems to be a fine line between positive reinforcement and reward. On the Parelli website it states that a reward comes after the event whereas positive reinforcement is more immediate.
- Parelli uses habituation a lot, for example, game 1 is the friendly game and during this, the stick is used to stroke all over the horse so they become used to being touched all over their body.
Have any of you any experience with Parelli and would you recommend it?