Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Carrot Sticks and Savvy Strings

The name Pat Parelli has been drifting at the perimeter of my consciousness for the past few years. While I am generally in favour of methods that require trainers to account for the natural state of the animal in question, I am also skeptical of any distilled and formulaic approach to animal training. Regardless of what species you are working with, the spectrum of personalities is huge and the same problem might need 10 different approaches for 10 different individuals.

With our dogs (and our foster dogs) we take a no-nonsense stance. Corrections for certain unacceptable behaviors are swift and harsh, undesirable behaviors are consistently and persistently discouraged, and praise for desirable behaviors is clearly communicated. This hierarchy is adjusted to individual animals based on their age, overall disposition, and day-to-day moods (not to mention our own day-to-day moods). Something tells me that I will default to a similar strategy with the horses, but I did buy a set containing the Parelli Level I DVDs (TM), a halter (TM), a Savvy String (TM), a 12-foot line (TM) and a Carrot Stick (TM) to see what it's all about. The Parelli price for this kit is an amazing $382 + shipping, but I managed to get it for $300 on eBay, shipping included. Furthermore, I managed to copy all of the DVDs and printed material so that I could resell them on eBay ($200) and distribute them to one other curious party ($50).

So far I'm feeling neutral about my $50 investment. Linda Parelli kind of makes me laugh, and the horses look genuinely confused about what's being communicated by some of the approaches. There's a lot of things I will probably never try because they look too ridiculous. On the other hand, some of the exercises do seem valuable for a cooperative-yet- skeptical horse like Tonka. I'd probably be less philosophical about it if I'd paid full price (we call this kind of racket "a license to print money" at our place). Please don't tell on me?


Anonymous said...

If Parelli is natural horsemanship .... it works. You'll have Tonka following you around like a puppy. It takes time, but it works.

dp said...

Thanks for your thoughts. Don't get me wrong -- I am ALL for natural horsemanship. I'm just somewhat less for branding it, packaging it, and selling it for what must be a huge profit.