Serendipity (finding good things not sought for) at the Ranch
By Pam Brownlie


As a Physical Therapist trained and experienced in Equine Therapy I am often asked to evaluate and treat horses at the Parelli ranch here in Pagosa Springs, CO. On this occasion Linda Parelli had asked me to treat Sun, a trained ranch horse who had an apparent hip injury. She believed he was in the corral at the end of the pen area. On arriving there I found that corral empty and when I asked a working student occupied there she replied, "Sure, there's Sun over in that other corral by the barn." Indeed this horse fit the size and color description I had, except for obvious hip symptoms. I called over to the student, "Are you sure this is Sun?" and she replied, "Yes, that's him, Sun…RED Sun." So corrected by someone in the know, I proceeded with my examination.

Sun, or RED Sun as I now understood, looked pretty unhappy. Taking his picture on my digital as I always do before checking him out I thought he could have been called Dolores (sadness) if the gender were reversed. After evaluation I found him to be in need of emotional work. Recent developments in the field of manual therapy have been concerned with gentle effective ways to treat emotional issues. Treatment in this case took about 45 minutes after which he showed a significant change in general demeanor and was ready for hip treatment if he needed it. After taking another picture, still puzzled by the lack of hip dysfunction, I returned to Linda for another assignment. When she saw the pictures she exclaimed, "That's not Sun, that's RED Sun, one of our best horses." OOOps! So with my face the color of RED Sun's mane I told Linda what I had found and how I had treated Sun…I mean RED Sun. "You know," Linda said, "that's why he arrived here, at the ranch - emotional problems, and it's kept him from his full potential." She then asked Mikey, a top level Parelli trainer, to check him out the next day. Under Mikey's expert tutelage to date, Red Sun had made spectacular progress but still displayed reticence when asked to perform difficult maneuvers, displaying fear and bracing.


Not showing the cautious reserve he felt and only later admitted, Mikey rode Red Sun the next day. Putting him through a series of increasingly difficult moves, Mikey found that a newfound confidence and assurance had replaced the horse's fear and bracing. This allowed further work to be accomplished by Mikey and a week later to everyone's delight, Red Sun and Mikey put on a star performance at Horse Expo in Sacramento. Since this experience, Pam's 'Emotional Balancing' has become a staple at the Parelli ranch.



About the author:
Pam Brownlie lives, works and rides with her husband Alan, an Industrial Designer turned Equine Product Specialist, in the beautiful San Juan Mountains of Southern Colorado. She continues to study and explore actively all facets of Equine Therapy and how it can be an exciting and useful part of the fascinating, developing world of Natural Horse-Man-Ship that Pat and Linda Parelli lead and personify.