Devoted Parelli student Mia Rodley tells us about her journey so far in building that ultimate bond with horses and ponies……….
FOURTEEN-year-old Mia Ridley is based in Northampton and is a regular member of the Pytchley Pony Club. Mia turned to Parelli when she decided she wanted to follow her dreams and build the ultimate relationship with her pony.
How long have you been riding and how did you come to start?
If you count donkeys I’ve been riding before I could walk, I’ve always had a love of horses. If I heard hooves outside, I’d always run to the closest window! I started traditional lessons aged five at our local stables.
Tell us about your horses and ponies along the journey?
When I was eight-years-old, I was given ownership of our homebred, hand reared, family pony, Posy. Posy was a 12hh Arab cross Welsh section A, and an extreme Left-Brain Extrovert, still is, but is now a lot more centred. She had been ‘broken in’ at three-years-old, but left for some years.
Re-started by friends, I was used as the dummy to sit on her, and had traditional lessons on her every week. It was Posy who really taught me to sit to anything: rears, bucks, broncs or bolts, whatever she could throw at me, at the time!
What first attracted you to Parelli?
When I was 13, something just clicked and I decided I really wanted to have a connection with my pony, a relationship, acting as a partner, not my prisoner. I’d always dreamt of riding on the beach, bareback and bridleless after seeing Walter Farleys ‘The Black Stallion’.
However, this was a long way off, so I searched for a natural horsemanship technique that was right for me and my horse, as I had heard about the wonders that this form of training could do. I found ‘Join Up’ (basically a catching game) worked brilliantly on every pony I tried it with.
But one day, watching TV, I found Parelli. ‘Parelli- Live Your Dream’ and WOW! It totally blew my socks off. Seeing Rachael Morland and her stunning Arabian gelding Phoenix, living the dream I wanted! From that day on, I searched on the web, finding what to learn and learning what to do.
In February 2010, I started my journey with my loan horse, Harry. A stunning four- year-old, 15hh, chestnut, Welsh section D. He was very pushy, strong, and if he saw a patch of grass on the other side of the track, he would get it, and that meant dragging me behind him, a typical Left-Brain Introvert. But I loved him so much! He had done little to nothing, so we were both starting out.
In April 2010, I went to the British Open, and spent my day, not watching the show jumping, but in the Parelli zone. I met Rachael, and so many more wonderful horsemen and women! Everyone was so enthusiastic and happy! I became a Savvy Club member and bought my starter kit on the same day.
I got straight to work with Harry, who loved the games with passion. We practised them religiously and through them, built a strong relationship, the kind I had only dreamt of sharing! We watched a lot of courses, lessons and play days, however never attended one.
Harry and I were ready for anything! By the end of the loan, we were hacking out and clearing fences bareback and bridleless, doing tons of liberty and learned a few nifty tricks on the way like the Spanish walk, lie down, bow and kiss.
My favourite moment, was hacking down the road, bareback and bridleless, and who should pass us, but the biggest traditionalist in the area. Her horses dressed in straps of leather and big metal bits; and Harry with our rope neck string!
I was so close to reaching the ultimate dream, we were planning to go on a beach trip but sadly in February 2011 I had to say goodbye to my partner, as the loan ended and the owner had decided to sell him on. It was devastating; Harry had taught me everything I knew! He will always have a big special place in my heart.
Tell us about your Parelli progress?
After that, my Parelli friend Brenda Foster who lives locally offered me Maddy, her 14hh, 20-year-old, New Forest mare to play with! Maddy knows every trick in the book, and she knows she does! Brenda has reached level 3 with Maddy, and they are so good together.
After getting to know each other, we went to the Pysdxetchley Pony Club camp, where I was asked if I could do a presentation and demonstration on Parelli. We showed off our bareback and bridleless show jumping to a crowd of 75 people, most of whom I knew well, but it was still pretty scary! And sure enough they loved it; many of them enquiring about the methods.
Brenda, with her other horse Brazil, Maddy and I went hunting together with the Pytchley Hunt. Many of my friends attended the meet and off we went, flying across open country, clearing hedges and rails! I still see Maddy, and Brenda and I still work together every week.
We can already go out for rides in the hackamore, mount from the neck, dismount by sliding off his rear, and we’ve even tried some jumping! I’m hoping to introduce the bit to him anytime soon, but we’re taking the time it takes, so it takes less time. I see Sox about twice a week, and the thing I most look forward to is when I call to him in the field, and he comes running!
I’m friends with many of the sharers of the Pony Share Scheme, and I got to meet them and their horses again at the open day they held. It was so nice when I was starting out, knowing that girls and boys just like me share the same dream, and are so like-minded! All my friends have been so supportive, and offering me their horses to play with.
My best friend, Joey, offered me her horse Tyler, an amazing 16.2hh, dark bay Irish sports mare. But sadly we had to decline. Joey started Parelli with her other horse Roxy this time last year, after I introduced it to her. They were going fantastically, until Roxy seriously injured her leg, and had to be pulled out of work altogether, but is on a swift road to recovery.
All this experience with different horses has helped me adapt to any horsenality, all teaching me something new and something I will never forget! Parelli has given me the knowledge to communicate with all the horses I’m around, reach my dreams and get amazing results with my partners.
I would say I’m currently a self-assessed level 3 student, as I haven’t actually sent in any of my levels yet!
In the future I would like to complete my veterinary degree course and become a vet and continue to build a strong relationship with my horse. I am hoping soon to be on the Fast Track Parelli course.
I have said this to many of my friends who have asked about Parelli: Just try it out! Just have a go. I just tried it, not having any high expectations, and look what I’ve achieved in this short time!
The best feeling is just taking off the line, and the horse is so intently trying to communicate with you, sticking to your side, and so in harmony!