Finesse Without Stress – Improve Your Posture

Would you like to be a more polished, elegant rider?    
Would you like to get out of your horse’s way to help him perform to the best of his ability?
At the recent Horseman’s Gallery at the Parelli Ranch in Florida, Pat and Linda Parelli shared concepts and tips they have gathered in their years of riding with, learning from and even teaching, the top horsemen and horsewomen in the  world.  They are highly motivated to help Parelli students become better riders and improve our horsemanship.  
Be the best partner you can be for your horse.  Learn how your seat and posture affect your horse’s movement, and ability to respond to your requests.  Christi Rains is Parelli Certified as a Finesse Specialist to teach you and your horse Finesse without Stress.  Come ride with Christi for a Rider Makeover.  View her clinic schedule here –

How Retreat And Approach Builds Confidence In The Horse

Pat Parelli says that it’s more effective to use Retreat and Approach with skeptical horses than the familiar Approach and Retreat.   If you watch Pat when he gets an unconfident horse at one of the Tour Stops, he will often walk around leading the horse for half an hour telling jokes and stories.   We wish he would go ahead and start with the horse.   We don’t realize that Pat is employing powerful psychology while he talks by retreating from the horse.  It’s the best way to build a horse’s confidence.

One of the strategies that Pat shows when riding an unconfident horse is to circle a scary object from a safe distance, then turn towards it and half circle the other way.    Let the horse look at it from both eyes.   Always turn towards the scary object and half circle, gradually getting closer until the horse relaxes.   Pat often uses the energy to get fun rollbacks from his horse.   

In this video, watch Lisa Carter’s mare BB explore the new gravel pile in the same fashion.   She half circles one way, then the other.  She RETREATS, THEN gradually gets closer until she satisfies herself that it is safe and there are no wolves hiding under the pile.

In our Level 1 and Trail Confidence Clinics we cover this strategy in depth, exposing horses to many different types of objects that simulate what you are likely to encounter on the trail, but in a fun and safe environment.  Come ride with Christi Rains in one of our Parelli clinics to learn the latest strategies from Pat and Linda to develop that Dream Relationship with your Perfect Partner!

Clinic Schedule –

Improve Responsiveness Using Rein Pre-Signals

Pat Parelli often says, “Mind, Weight, Maybe the Feet.”  What on earth does that mean?!?   Ray Hunt used to say, “Prepare to a position to make the transition.”  They were talking about pre-signals to prepare the horse to do what we ask.
Pat also says, “Lift your rein for a change.”  The Lift is a Pre-signal.  If the horse is standing still and Pat wants to walk off, he will bring his Life up, lift the rein and get a walk motion in his body.  The signal travels to the horse’s Mind, and from there to the Feet.  He shifts his Weight.  Then the Feet can do the right thing.  If Pat wants to trot, he lifts his rein for a change and gets a trot motion in his body.  The signal goes to the horse’s mind first, and he is able to shift his weight and prepare to trot.  Pre-signals are a powerful, important piece of our communication with the horse on the ground and in the saddle.
Come ride with me in one of our Clinics where we will cover in more depth about how to develop a stronger relationship and better communication with your horse.   Register for the clinics of your choice here –    Hope to see you soon!
Happy Trails,
Christi Rains

Teach Your Horse to Spin

Teach your horse to spinHow would you like to learn a no stress way to teach your horse to spin?  Even if you never plan to enter a reining competition, this is a fun exercise that is actually beneficial for your horse, no matter what kind of riding you do. It will teach your horse to swing his ribs from one side to the other, which will help him learn to be straight on the circle. Horses tend to carry their ribs to the same side most of the time, which causes all kinds of problems when we ride such as lack of straightness, difficulty with circles, leads and lead changes, etc. You will notice in the video that Annie is choosing to stretch her neck and top line. When you stretch one side of your horse, then the other, it feels good to the horse and helps them relax. Then they will choose to lower their head and stretch the neck, which causes them relax even further. So the exercise has mental and emotional benefits as well.

Pat Parelli believes in cross-training. Dressage is beneficial for western horses, and playing with cows is a fun way to give an English horse a purpose. Don’t be afraid to experiment with other disciplines. My horses love the variety.  Watch the video tutorial below…

Liberty Fun – Can You Be Entertainment For Your Horse?

Sonny-liberty“What do you have when you take off the lead rope?  — The Truth!!”  —  Pat Parelli

Liberty teaches you “when to be”, “where to be”, “why to be” and “what to do when you get there”.   Often, we don’t realize how much we maul horses around with the lead rope and hide our mistakes.  When you no longer have that lead rope attached, does the horse still want to stay and play, or does he escape at the first opportunity?   My teacher, Pat Parelli, says “Your horse is entertainment for you…can you be entertainment for your horse?”

The following video shows my LBE gelding, Sonny, at play.   Sonny is very exuberant at Liberty, and teaches me new things all the time.   I taught him to lay down at Liberty, but he taught me the next step — He will sit half way up and I can say “Bang!” and he will fall over and play dead!   It’s one of his favorite things to do and you will see him offer it over and over in this video.  He will do it for half an hour if I stay and play too.

Would you like have more Fun with your horse?   Would you like to feel Safer and get better Results?   Sign up for one of my Parelli clinics and we’ll show you how to live your Dream with your horse.

Challenge – Can You Bridle Your Horse From His Back?!?

annie-chases-bitCan you bridle your horse from the horse’s back?  Will your horse be a willing Partner and  help you in the process?  And why would you want to do such a silly thing?

My teacher, Pat Parelli, believes that learning should be fun for you and your horse.   Pat issues fun “Can You” Challenges to us, not for the sake of the challenge itself, but for the learning process that we have to go through to solve the puzzle.  You have to improve the relationship with your horse in order to be successful.  If you get the horse’s Respect and Trust, he will do anything for you.  When I first attempted this task with Cameo, my first horse through the Parelli program years ago, I was a direct line thinker.  I got on her back and started wrestling with her, trying to get her to cooperate.  But I hadn’t done the prior and proper preparation to cause it to be her idea.   I got it done, but it wasn’t pretty.  I didn’t teach Cameo to bridle herself first.  If you will watch this video with Annie, you will see that Annie bridles herself with enthusiasm!  This made the task easy the first time I tried it with her.

Develop a better Relationship with your horse based on Respect and Trust.   Come ride with me in one of my Parelli clinics and I will show you how to fell safer, have more fun and get better results with your horse.

View the current clinic schedule here –

Hope to see you soon!


Developing Seat Connection With One-Rein Riding – Part 1

Developing seat connection with one-rein riding - www.christirains.comMy teacher, Pat Parelli, says "The more you use your reins, the less the horse uses his brains."  When my students want to get better at riding with Finesse, I like to challenge their ability to ride the horse with one rein through Patterns and Obstacles.  Often, we use the reins more than we know and don't really develop our seat connection as well as we can.  Riding with one rein and a carrot stick will show you how good your seat connection really is. 

Before I try to ride with contact, I want to be able to stop, turn, go backwards, sideways, etc. with just my seat.  My favorite saying from Pat Parelli is "Your seat is the Verb.  The reins are the Adjective that adds beauty and shape."   Your seat says Go, Slow, Sideways, etc.  Your reins will be neutral in true contact, with the communication coming from your Energy, your Intention and your Seat Connection.  Set up some obstacles and see if you can do the course with one rein and your carrot stick.  It will show you what is working and what is not. It will show you if you rely on your reins too much. 

Come join my Ride Better Clinic series this Fall and I will share the techniques and skills I have learned from Pat and Linda Parelli to help you develop the partnership and seat connection you have dreamed of with your horse.  Take one clinic or the whole Ride Better series with clinics in October, November and December.   We'll show you how to truly improve your horsemanship and make a difference with your horse.

Follow Your Dream – Level 3-4 Freestyle And Finesse Clinic

Follow Your Dreams - take your riding to the next level with the Finesse Training Sequence by Linda Parelli

Are you feeling a little stuck with your riding?  Here is a riding clinic to help you advance. 

Finesse Training Sequence (prerequisite: working on Level 3 or 4 in Freestyle)

I am seeing big smiles on my students' faces, and Rhythm and Relaxation in their horses after playing with Linda Parelli’s new Finesse Training Sequence.  Often, when we try to put a horse in a Frame, horses get claustrophobic.  They may display displaced behaviors, even in horses ridden at a high level of competition — head tossing, champing the bit, evading the bit, swishing tails, tongue out or over the bit, etc. Horses get anxious, emotional, angry.  Linda’s brilliant system introduces the frame to the horse one piece at a time, zone by zone, and helps them develop Rhythm and Relaxation even as they learn to be ridden with Finesse.

We are the lucky beneficiaries of Linda Parelli’s years of study with Pat Parelli, Walter Zettl, Christoph Hess, Luis Lucio, Mette Larsen and other top riders, teachers and trainers around the world.  Linda has developed a system based on the knowledge and experience she has gained from years of study with Master Riders, Teachers and Trainers.  The Finesse Training Sequence is brilliant in its simplicity and effectiveness in teaching students and horses the difficult concepts of Finesse.

Freestyle Riding (prerequisite:  working on Level 3 or 4 in Freestyle)

Freestyle Riding helps us develop an Independent Seat, Impulsion and the Seat Connection you will need for higher level riding, whether your purpose is showing, working on the ranch or riding the trails.  We will ride Positive Patterns and demonstrate strategies to help you get the connection you need to feel safe, have fun and excel with your horse.  If you are ready, we will challenge you with One Rein Riding, Carrot Stick and Bridleless Riding.

I look forward to sharing with you the Principles, Concepts and Strategies that I have learned riding with Pat and Linda Parelli over the last twenty years.  We'll be focusing on these concepts during our Follow Your Dream Series Clinic.  The next one is scheduled for April 25-26, 2015.  Come join us!

Happy Trails,


Christi Rains

"The more I learn, the smarter my horse gets!"

Carrot Stick Riding and One Rein Riding Tips

Juggling your rein, carrot stick and horse can be a daunting exercise in coordination.  In the following video I'll show you a few tips for Carrot Stick Riding and One Rein Riding Dynamics. We'll talk about some of the top challenges I hear from my students when they first start to experiment with One Rein Riding and incorporating the Carrot Stick.

  • How to hold the Carrot Stick correctly and use it effectively for turns.
  • Incorporating "phases" for Carrot Stick Riding.
  • How to ride more effectively with one rein.
  • How to toss the rein over the horse's head without it speeding up.
  • How to back the horse with one rein effectively.
  • How to keep the horse from flexing the neck when asking for the backup.

I cover this topic in depth in my Level 2 and Level 3 Clinics, and we may even find it a fun challenge to go back to One Rein Riding in more advanced clinics like my Follow Your Dream Series.  We'll set up an obstacle course and challenge each other to navigate the obstacles using only one rein or even no reins!  If you are looking to improve and/or challenge your riding skills this Spring, I'd love for you to come ride with me!

Happy Trails,

Christi Rains

"The more I learn, the smarter my horse gets!"

Linda Parelli On Game Of Contact And Christi Rains

Linda Parelli recently talked with us about the value of taking a Game of Contact clinic to develop the rider’s Feel, as well as a better Seat and Posture.  Game of Contact also helps the horse learn to handle contact confidently.  Many horses are afraid of Contact, and often riders don’t know how to offer the correct Contact to their horses.  Game of Contact clinics teach the rider what good Contact should feel like.  We also teach the rider to help her horse gain confidence with the bit, eliminating displaced behaviors.  Linda also gave a nice testimonial for us