My journey started after I took a flying lesson off the back of a scared horse. It was a young horse that I bought to train myself, Jumper. My back was broken in the crash landing. During the first year of recovery, I was introduced to Pat Parelli’s program by Christine Radosta, a very wise horsewoman. Christine proactively supported and encouraged me to continue my efforts in training Jumper. She saved us both.
In my first visit to a Parelli seminar some of the information seemed, well, obvious or should have been obvious to anybody owning a horse. The rest of the information provided was overwhelming. While I understood the principles, I was completely lost with method application.
When I was physically able to ride again, overwhelming fear was a huge issue. I managed the fear well enough to ride “schooling” horses that I perceived as “safe”. But, I was so fearful of Jumper that he had become just a lawn ornament. Until, another friend loaned me her copy of Dr. Stephanie Burns’ book “Move Closer, Stay Longer”. After reading the book and applying Dr. Burns’ suggestions to the schooling horses, I bought 2 copies of the book - 1 for myself and 1 to give away. Then I started back to work with Jumper.
My goal at that time was simple; I wanted to ride Jumper without being afraid. After all, he hadn’t run full gallop, out of control (for what seemed like miles), then bucked (harder and longer than who’d of thought) with any other rider. Just me. Just that one time.
Christine invited me along to the yearly Parelli seminars in our area for a total of 5 years. With each seminar, the information Pat and Linda provided became less overwhelming. I began to understand that it was necessary for Pat and Linda to point out the obvious. I took a long, honest look at my application of the obvious. Again, I clearly understood the principles. But my fear was in the way of effective application of Parelli methods when it came to working with Jumper (who, by the way, is a dominate left brain extrovert). I bought the Level 1 program and started working with Jumper from scratch – again.
After working about half way through Level 1 by myself, I was confident enough to ride Jumper in several classes, in a large outdoor arena. During a class Jumper spooked on the rail as wind blew threw a table umbrella attached to the rail. He jumped sideways, spun around and stopped his feet. Then, he started running around the arena out of control and charging the gate like he would jump it. But, I had Pat, Linda and Christine in my head that day. It took what seemed like forever, but I finally moved through the panic to realize I had to ride as fast as he’s running, then, I need to secure my seat in the saddle, reach down the right rein and make a one rein stop. Jumper stopped and I thought, Whew! Great! He stopped and I stayed on. That was close, now I’m getting off.
In middle of the arena, as I removed my right foot from the stirrup to get off, the class instructor took Jumper’s reins. He spooked again. Now we’re rearing, running out of control around the arena, charging the gate and I have one foot loose. This time, I moved through the panic more quickly: I rode it, secured my seat, reached for the right rein and completed another one rein stop. Then I got off. For 6 months.
I consider every part of that last class ride a success but the old horrible paralyzing fear came back. After much reflection, I realized that Jumper stopped his feet after the first spook – he ran off because of MY reaction to his fear. Then, I looked further back – yep, the flying lesson was MY fault because I didn’t know why to go, where to go or what to do when I got there. My goal changed: it was not fair to Jumper, and I would surely be killed, if I continued to get on his back in the state I was in. I needed a better relationship with him and a much better understanding of MY issues.
Sadly, God called Christine home. As Christine was leaving us, Jerilyn Caldwell was sent into our lives. I know that along with all of the horsemen to which Pat pays homage, Christine is there too, smiling and proud of the progress that Jumper and I have made with Jerilyn’s tutelage. As Jerilyn helped me through Level 1 tasks, I became encouraged and confident enough to buy Level 2.
We are working on Level 2 and Level 3 tasks. Fear is still an issue but Jerilyn starts each session with Jumper and me at exactly where we are at that moment. in doing so, she allows me to get fear out of the way: my application skills catch up to my level of understanding so that Jumper and I continue to move forward. Through Jerilyn’s unlimited talent, patience, confidence, understanding and consistency, these are the lessons that have propelled me forward (in no particular order of importance, they are equally important):
•It’s not about training Jumper. It’s about training me to communicate more effectively with horses, from which confidence and healthy fear are a natural by-product. •My past management of unhealthy fear is right brain behavior. Unhealthy fear is transferable. I’ve come to realize that my thoughts can cause Jumper to spook or a natural spook to escalate. •The more I improve my skill level and understanding, the more I stay left brain and the fear dissipates. •Sometimes you have to go backward, a long way, in order to go forward. It’s not about how fast a student can pass the Levels. It’s all about understanding what the horse is saying and hearing. It’s called a journey because it takes as long as it takes to “get it” at one level and move to the next. And the number of levels is endless. •Jumper provides the best feedback. He clearly demonstrates his appreciation when I’m talking to him from my left brain. He just as clearly demonstrates his disapproval with my right brain behavior. •It really is all about the relationship. Sometimes I think, wow, it doesn’t get any better than this. But then it does get better. The relationship is worth every ounce of growing pains. •Every minute in the saddle is worth every hour spent in perfect practice on the ground. •I’ve learned how my status as a predator affects horses and other species. In understanding predator behavior, you can learn to regulate your energy to positively effect change in horses, cats, dogs and people. •Focus is the best replacement for fear. •It’s not about me having confidence in Jumper. t’s about Jumper having confidence in me. •Parelli methods work very well with Great Danes.
After the flying lesson I had suggestions, from several well meaning people and my mother, to just sell “That Horse”. I was savvy enough back then to realize that whatever issues I left unresolved with Jumper would be carried into all my other horse relationships. My decision to take this journey with Jumper has been much more rewarding than I could have imagined. Not only does our relationship continue to get better, I get better and all of my horse relationships have improved. I am thankful every day for Christine’s love and support, for the Parelli program and Jerilyn Caldwell. --Barbara Thompson of Midlothian, TX
"The horse doesn't care how you know until he knows how much you care"- Pat Parelli
Thank You to everyone for sharing your experiences....
Thanks to the Parelli program, my quarter horse Charlie and I have become a team, a partnership, and strive to become "one". And Charlie is most appreciative that Parelli has taught me how to better communicate and understand him. Whether we're riding or playing games, it's always a great day!.-- Jill Guerber
APHA Buttons Major King "Major" is learning to wear his new Cradle Bridle. He has only had a bit in his mouth once for a short parade, and a couple of practice sessions. Jerilyn suggested that I put the bridle on but use the halter with reins until he gets accustom to having a bit in his mouth.This is working very well. Thank you Jerilyn.
I first met Jerilyn at a Dave Ellis Cow Clinic. I was just starting my Level two journey and my left brain introvert / on occasion, extrovert was not really interested in standing around with 25 other riders waiting his turn. Jerilyn could see what I was going through. She encouraged me, and spent some time listening to me, and gave me some arrows. I have since achieved my official level two assessment. Jerilyn has been there through my bucking at a canter issues with Major, started my husband on his level one journey, taught a level one clinic and a patterns practice clinic at our ranch. Thank you Jerilyn for taking the time it takes. I look forward to many more clinics and lessons with Jerilyn. I have had many request to have her return for clinics.
The more knowledge and understanding of horse psychology that I attain, the more I feel the need to seek and to refine my communication skills. The "never ending self improvement" part of this program means to me that for the rest of my life I will improve on: my LOVE for everything and everyone that I encounter, my LANGUAGE with every species that I communicate with, and my LEADERSHIP in whichever direction I choose for my life to take. I have learned that the leader is the one with the plan.
Part of what has been further explained to me by Jerilyn is that everything means something and nothing means nothing. Every thought I have sends energy to my horse. Every time my horse "takes over" in a situation, every time my horse mentally "checks-out" of a conversation with me, every time my horse does not look to me for leadership, I need to do something about it. Tapping in to the knowledge of an instructor has helped me know WHEN to be, WHERE to be, WHY to be, and WHAT to be for my horse. For anyone who may ask if they should attend a clinic or go to an instructor, I say YES!! I learned on my own, but I feel like I am beginning to master that knowledge only with the hands on, direct assistance of an instructor in person.
Doors have been opened that I never knew existed. "You don't know what you don't know' means that now I am aware of how much better I can be. This program and Jerilyn have given me more knowledge about the equine language, and we all know 'knowledge is power'. Now I have the power to communicate more clearly no matter who or what I am communicating with. --Chris Ludwick from Fairfield, Tx
When I first began working with Jerilyn, I had been working in Level 2 for over 3 years. I’d passed all aspects of Level 2 – EXCEPT two Freestyle tasks. And I was not making much progress on my own. Under Jerilyn’s guidance, I have learned to understand the psychology behind the brace, when it is disrespect and when it is not, and what to do about it, to be particular without being critical, and to “isolate, separate, and recombine.” Her insight and ability to read both horse and human are remarkable. Phrases like “it’s not about the ___” and “Don’t quit me” all the while remembering “It’s about the relationship!” help me keep on track. Jerilyn has helped me discover the specific strategies that work for me and for Breeze, based on our personality/horsenality. After less than 3 months of studying with Jerilyn, I have graduated from Level 2! I would not have accomplished this without her help. ----Robin Scott
From L to R; Jerilyn; Nancy Pierce; Kay Karns; Nancy Staley; Debbie Steinberg
Jerilyn Days with Nancy Pierce and Company!
We are a group of friends and dedicated students of Jerilyn and the Parelli Program. Most of us are home to several horses with different horsenalities; we are at all levels of the program from self-assessed to official.
We see Jerilyn as our masterful Juggler EXTRAORDINAIRE! She has the uncanny ability to keep all of us engaged in different tasks and happy at the same time!
Jerilyn's skills as a Parelli Professional speak volumes to her experience, her innate abilities and her dedication to her students and the Program.
Thank you Jerilyn for all you do for us and our equine partners!
~ Nancy Pierce
Jerilyn visits Chocolate Horse Farm, Mt. Vernon, Missouri, Home of Carol and David Dunbar, Gypsy Horse Farm! April, 2012
Carol, her family, and several young people from the community that she mentors and their Mom's and Dad's were all involved in the program in one way or another throughout Thursday afternoon and Friday morning. There were ah -ha's and smiles all around!
It was a fabulous experience to share time with carefully and acceptionally breed horses and wonderful, caring and warm people! Jerilyn hopes to visit Carol, David and their horses soon again!
"Our Gypsy-Arabian cross herd; About to discover
people aren't such predators after all!"
~ Carol Dunbar