Right at the beginning of his Natural Horsemanship book, Pat Parelli introduces Level 1 theory by outlining the six keys to success. They are: Attitude, Knowledge, Tools, Techniques, Time and Imagination. Since the original publication of the book years ago, a seventh key has been added: Support.
Achieving any horsemanship goal is a journey that requires commitment, perseverance, focus and discipline as well a substantial amount of effort sustained over a long period of time. As in any major endeavour in life, these seven keys, if understood and applied, will help you succeed beyond your expectations. Some may come more easily to you than others; however, to get the formula right, we need to keep our focus on all seven keys.
Key 1: The Horseman’s (Woman’s) Attitude
Can you be natural, positive and progressive all at once, all the time? Most people are either one or the other at any time, sometimes two of these things, but can rarely master all three at once. Some people are natural, and positive, but they get stuck doing the same thing over and over and fail to make progress. Others are very progressive, but may not be taking the time it takes to do it in a natural way; they tend to resort to force and artificial tools to reach their goals. And then there are people that will find wrong with anything and everything, including their own selves; as they strive to achieve their goals, they don’t understand that often they are standing in their own way.
Attitude is a choice that we make every day. How we decide to perceive our life and respond to life’s events is really up to us! We each have the ability to choose our attitude and to view the possibilities in every situation. When things are not working as expected, it can be tempting to blame the horse. Remember that you picked him and bought him, he did not have a choice! What are you doing to bring out the best in your horse? What are you doing to become the best leader for him you can be? What are you choosing to see?
The Parelli program teaches us to stay calm, cool and collected, which is exactly what we would like to see in our horses! A natural, positive and progressive attitude allows us to focus your energy on our goals, on the good that surrounds us everyday, on the little successes and on the gold nuggets that lie on the path waiting to be found. Trusting the process to get there, even though it may not look like the finished product yet, is another way to define the right attitude of horsemanship.