‘Horse Behaviorist’ to Hold 6-Day Clinic


“Horse behaviorist” Pat Parelli returns to San Juan Capistrano next week, bringing a new format: a six-day session that incorporates colt-starting into his popular horse-and-rider training clinics.

Pat Creighton, who organized next week’s clinic at Rancho Sierra Vista Equestrian Center in San Juan Capistrano, said the first three days will focus on colt-starting and problem-solving.

A weekend clinic, based on Parelli’s horse-behavior methods, begins with a Friday evening video session and dinner. The clinic continues all day Saturday and Sunday; for an extra fee, participants may join in a trail ride Monday with Parelli at Ronald Caspers Regional Park.

Parelli has demonstrated his abilities far and wide--including the 1984 Olympics, where he gave a riding exhibition aboard a mule. In a “look, Ma, no hands” style, he put the mule through its paces without a bridle.


His philosophy is one of gentle persuasion. Rather than trying to force a horse into submission, he teaches riders to convey to their mount that they both want to do the same thing. His clinics are designed to teach riders to communicate with horses through understanding and psychology instead of force and fear.

“I want you to understand your horse, but more so, the horse wants you to understand him,” Parelli typically tells his students. “The horse can’t speak English and you can’t whinny, so you have to communicate with each other through the same body language.”

From his Northern California ranch, Parelli travels to clinics throughout the country, usually with his stallion, Salty Doc, in tow to demonstrate his philosophy. Riders participate in his clinics with nearly every type of horse and tack imaginable: quarter horses in Western gear, German warmbloods in dressage saddles, Morgans in saddle seat tack, thoroughbreds in hunt-seat saddles.

All a rider needs to bring, he says, are a rope halter, a 15-foot lead rope, riding tack--and, of course, a horse.


There are still openings in next week’s clinic, which is open free to spectators. Participant cost for the three-day session (Wednesday through Friday) is $300. The weekend session is $200, with an extra fee for the trail ride. To register, call Creighton at (714) 496-7850.

For more information on the Parelli method or locations of other upcoming clinics, contact: Parelli Horse Ranch. P.O. Box 39, Clements, Calif. 95227, (209) 727-3547.

Benefit bonanza: To celebrate its 10th anniversary of teaching the disabled to ride, the Orange County Riding Center, a nonprofit organization, will hold a benefit barbecue Sept. 17. A number of equestrian-related events are planned, including riding and vaulting demonstrations. Disabled children and adults who participate in the center’s therapeutic program will stage a horse show.

Last year, more than 300 people turned out for the event, according to center director Frances Joswick. Tickets--including a barbecue dinner--are $15 for adults and $7.50 for children. Admission-only tickets are $5.


The festivities, with live country music, are planned from 4 to 7 p.m. The center is at 26282 Oso Road, San Juan Capistrano, just north of the mission off Camino Capistrano. For more information, call (714) 240-8441.