Archive for October, 2003
FIRST MISSOURI FOX TROTTER ATTAINS ADVANCED STATUS
IN PARELLI PROGRAM
The Parelli program is modeled after Martial Arts program (Judo) with the different colored belts to signify the status. Velvet and Susan will be wearing a green 6’ rope, which is the mark of their status. Each level has from 20 up to 53 tasks that must be assessed by a certified Parelli instructor in person or via videotape. Velvet and Susan had to be assessed on 53 tasks in Level 3.
Most of the tasks seem simple, but none of them are easy. For instance, Susan had to load Velvet into a trailer on the end a 45’ rope. Velvet had to trot or canter into the trailer. The farther away you get from your horse, the easier it is for the horse to do the opposite of what the human wants! Forty five feet is a long way. Velvet also had to side pass and back 45’ away from Susan.
For Susan, this was an eight year undertaking to pass all three levels. Velvet and Susan started on Level 3 tasks in 2000. It took three years to pass all the tasks. Each task was video taped at least once and sent away to a four or five star instructor in the program. Many tasks were taped more than once when the video was returned and the task not passed. It took a lot of focus and dedication to realize this goal.
The Parelli levels’ tasks take the horse and human through supreme versatility. Many of the tasks in Level 3 are dressage related. Velvet had to canter diagonally, change leads and then canter diagonally the other direction.
She had to counter canter once around the arena in a refined manner. (That was very difficult for her.) She also had to perform “haunches in” for a distance. Her head & forequarters traveled straight and her hindquarters traveled in a separate track to the inside of the arena.
Velvet had to show a collected walk, trot and canter with a kite string in her mouth. Susan also had to canter Velvet bareback and bridleless three times in a circle and, still at the canter, turn into the center, stop and perform a forequarter turn. It took Susan 2 years to be able to ride that well bareback!
Velvet also had to drag a barrel both going forwards and then turning around backwards to face the barrel. She had to gallop a barrel pattern with four barrels. She had to canter around each barrel without breaking down to a trot and then gallop off to the next barrel.
At liberty in a round pen, she had to do flying lead changes when she reversed direction. She had to canter around the round pen and come down to a trot, a walk and then stop at a signal from Susan who was standing in the middle. She then had to trot into the middle and join up with Susan…this was all at liberty. These are just a few of the tasks that Susan remembers best on this journey!
Pat Parelli honored Susan and presented her with the coveted green rope signifying the graduation as a Level 3 Student. This occurred at a Parelli event in Springfield in front of a large crowd. Many of Susan’s friends from Kansas City and southern Missouri were in attendance. They gave her a standing ovation!
Velvet has been a tremendous public relations versatility horse for the Missouri Fox Trotter Breed. There were nearly 2000 people in attendance who saw Jennifer Vaught, a certified Parelli instructor and Jennifer’s four year old daughter both ride Velvet during Parelli events at Springfield, Tulsa and Council Bluffs this year. These appearances plus Velvet’s past appearances at Kentucky Horse Park for the 2003 Missouri Fox Trotter breed weekend, Equitana, the MidAmerica horse show half time demonstration and Kansas City Fox Trotter club all breed half time horse show demonstration shows add up to about 18,000 people.
The videotape of Velvet’s and Susan’s halftime performance at the MidAmerica Missouri Fox Trotter breed show has been circulated all over the United States, Canada and Germany among hundreds of Parelli students!
What’s next for Velvet? Velvet is semi retired- NOT! She plans to have one foal and perhaps do some demonstrations. Susan plans to stay busy bringing up young horses and following the path that Velvet has set!
Velvet, a ten year old mare nicknamed “The Princess of the Pasture”, has carried Susan Engle through the three (original) Parelli Natural Horsemanship Levels Program: Novice (Level 1), Harmony (Level 2) and Refinement Level 3). Velvet is the first Missouri Fox Trotter in the Universe to pass Level 3. It is estimated that more than 2000 gaited horses are in the Parelli program, but Velvet is the third gaited horse to pass this level and the first fox trotter!