In the world of natural horsemanship, the name “Parelli” has become a household word. As one half of that dynamic duo, Linda Parelli has helped drive this philosophy of horsemanship to its current international popularity. But how did an Australian dressage rider end up with an American cowboy named Pat Parelli?
Born in Singapore, Linda moved to Australia at age twelve. She convinced her parents to buy her a pony and “we went everywhere at a gallop…with me clinging to my pony’s back like a little insect.”
When Linda had to find a “real job,” she retired her ponies to attend Sydney’s Macquarie University with plans to become a teacher. Her curiosity as a lifelong learner resulted in a position with world-famous Ella Bach´e skin-care, where she was quickly promoted to Education Director and became the ‘face’ of Ella Bach´e, appearing on national television, conducting seminars across Australia and France, and redesigning the company’s entire training program.
The horses still called, though, so Linda bought a Thoroughbred ex-racehorse with dreams of eventing. But the more she trained in the “normal” way, the more dangerous the horse became. “I struggled for two years with a horse that I was advised to ‘sell to a man’ or ‘put a bullet in his head’ because I couldn’t stop him,” recalls Linda.
In a tack store one day, Linda noticed a video featuring a cowboy named Pat Parelli. As Pat executed perfect flying lead changes, slide stops and spins, Linda realized that he was doing it all without a bridle. She signed up for Pat’s clinic and was so impressed with his ideas, energy and enthusiasm, she started importing his equipment and organizing clinics in Australia. “We became friends and then more,” Linda recalls. “One snowy night he called and said ‘I can’t live without you,” The cowboy and the dressage rider were married.
Now a Parelli Five Star Premier Instructor, Linda designs curriculum and teaches courses at the Parelli Centers, produces video podcasts, writes dozens of articles for publication, stars in Parelli tour presentations and the RFD television shows and in 2007 will present Savvy Conferences in both the U.K. and Australia with Pat.
“She’s absolutely passionate about teaching and learning. It’s contagious,” says Tara Harris, a student in Level 3. “Linda showed me that I could not only cause my horse to do things, but I could inspire him,” adds student Maddrey Baker.
But perhaps her greatest impact on Parelli teaching has been her role as “Beta Test Student.” Before audiences of over 3,000 people, Linda has learned Roman riding, cutting, slidestops, vaulting, you name it – all done naturally. Bungee jumping, swimming with dolphins and presenting to the Queen of England are just another day at the office for her now.
“I’m often asked why I don’t compete anymore,” says Linda, who lives with Pat at the Parelli Centers in Pagosa Springs, Colorado and Ocala, Florida. “It’s just not important to me. I’m having more fun with horses and accomplishing more than I ever thought possible. I want to share that.”
For more information about Linda and Parelli Natural Horsemanship, visit www.parelli.com.