Posted by: Realist | January 28, 2008

Clinton Anderson vs Pat Parelli

After watching training videos from both Clinton Anderson and Parelli, I have to say that Clinton is much much better than Parelli. We bought both Level 1 and Level 2 from Parelli and ended up selling them on eBay. We have about 6 DVD sets from Clinton (each about $130 or so) and absolutely love him. I think we may have all of Clinton’s videos except the newer ones on bridleless riding, which I would love to get.

Surprisingly, both Clinton and Parelli pretty much teach exactly the same material. You wouldn’t know it at first since they seem so different philosophically. But Clinton is so much better at teaching the material. I found myself fast forwarding through much of the Parelli videos because they were so slow and boring. I suppose if you’re brand new to horses and natural horsemanship, the Parelli videos would be good. Clinton is jam-packed with information, he’s entertaining, and he’s crystal clear.

I do need to clarify one thing.  Most of the teaching on the Parelli videos is done by Linda Parelli.  The few segments done by Pat are excellent.  So I should say Clinton Anderson is much better than Linda Parelli.  Unfortunately, Pat doesn’t seem to have much time on the Parelli video series.

Now here’s the funny thing. I think Parelli’s level assessments are a great way to self-test yourself. In fact, I plan to get Parelli assessments for at least Level 1 and Level 2, but use Clinton’s training and approaches.



  1. Hey, I was just browsing your blog and I came across this post! If I absolutly had to choose a natrual horsemanship trainer, it would be Sarah Westfall. She went to the same college that I did and she is awesome. She doesn’t proclaim to be a “natural” horseman, she just says that she does what she has figured out what works. You should see her ride bridleless and saddless! Really cool!
    But picking between the two of your choices I would choose Clinton too! Plus he is cuter!! 🙂 I have never been a Parelli fan.

    • funny…. I always thought her name was Stacy….

  2. That one, lonely horse in your header looks SO sad. Horses are herd animals, and should never, ever be isolated to living without at least one other horse companion. Horses, if allowed to, will seek out the company of even a horse they don’t like, rather than being alone.

    Backyard horse owners, PLEASE don’t put your horse/s through the emotional pain of being forced to live alone. It’s simply abusive, and not what horse ownership should be about.

    • Hi Sandy, I’m new at this site and just saw your blog from May 17th,08. I have a blind belgian mare and a gelded (just gelded him 2wks ago) donkey. He take good care of the mare. I also have a gelded paint. When I got him a yr. ago, I had put them all together in the front pasture. The paint just ran the mare to exhaustion, and the donkey, who at the time was a jack, also ran her. He tried to mount her just like the paint was doing, but couldn’t reach her. She didn’t know where to go because of her blindness. She almost took down all the fencing, she 2000lbs. I had to separate them, she was soaked with sweat and it took her took 2 days to calm down. I love them all, and I don’t like leaving the paint alone in his pasture. They are all separated by a no climb fencing. They can see each other, so I don’t know if that would be considered alone. I would love to put them all together. Any suggestion? Anybody. Thanks

  3. I just audited a Parelli L1 clinic, trying to figure out if it would be right for me and my Percherons. I’m already a huge Clinton Anderson fan, and haven’t yet decided if I’ll make the switch. I do love the assessment part, but hate the politic-y commercialism. I was interested to read your views.

  4. Attended the Clinton Anderson “Tour” as he calls it, yesterday. Wonderful. So informative. He adds the little secrets that you need to suceed. As example, 15 minutes a day for three days is much better than three hours once a week. Another, you often do not get what you are looking for until the third day. To add to Sandy’s wonderful thought, if you absolutely cannot afford another horse, a pair (not one) of goats (gelded if one is a male) make wonderful horse companions. Our retired racehorse would not go in a stall even if it was sleeting. Once we got Ziggy and Mary he would walk right in with them. The love between them all was palpable and joyous to see.

  5. I totaly agree Parelli is so hard to understand. But he’s better on the groung and Clint is better on the ground and ridding.
    I heart Clint Anderson!

  6. Actually, I don’t think Linda and Pat give enough detail for beginners. As a beginner, I learn MUCH more from Clinton. We have spent thousands on Parelli materials and equipment and clinics. They give you just enough to make you feel like you need to buy more. I’m pretty sure it’s designed that way. Clinton gets on tv (free) and works with the most difficult horses and talks through every single detail. By far the best. Less of a product marketing scheme and more of a genuine trainer.

    • The Parelli’s are committed to teaching the human and it does take time-not a few techniques. It is a commitment, a great program that peels the layers for serious horse owners that ae willing to invest the time. As for being “commercial” they are simply offering everything they know and learn to their students -it is not for everyone-because it is a life choice-not a quick fix. A journey in relationship and partnering with your horse. I have owned horses all my life-competed at high levels in showing, breeding, endirance riding and never found any information that was as compelling, honest,and true Love, language and leadership-from a Master of our life time. No one comes close in offering a whole program of knowledge and learning format. They are successful because they are so good. It is too bad in the horse world it is suspect if someone is successful rather than viewed as evidence of a good method unparelleled. Clinton is a good enoughhorseman-he has some interesting quick fix philosophy=too direct line for me-I just want to offer my horses more.
      You don’t know what you don’t know until you know it. Take the time it does take-and use The Attitude of Justice. Relationship-the cause and allow with no “make” I hear the word “make the horse..: so much with all the other supposed “natural trainers” . With Pat and Linda-it is not about “making ” a horse-anyone can make a horse do things-but can your relationship and leadership (without force/make ) be strong enough for them to offer you what you ask for? That is the difference. Time consuming-in the beginning? yes. Dropping ego and chauvanism? A must. rewarding in the end. You bet.

      • Ellen Carole,
        You obviously haven’t seen Pat “Oat” Parelli abuse the lovely stallion Catwalk or Linda “Rat” Parelli do the same to poor, one-eyed Barney because if you had, you couldn’t have gushed over them like you did in your post. No animal lover can condone such atrocious “horsemanship” and remain faithful to the perpetrators of such abuse.

  7. I totally agree and alot more affordable. Tammy at Parelli was telling me how they are going all commercial in their promoting. They lost their love of horses for the Love of Money!!!
    Just email Tammy at Parelli and ask her.

    • exactly what I think to. Money went to far and they lost the reason why they were maybe doing in when they started. kind of sad as this guy have talent, but money replace it now…kind of more a show and a marketing product

  8. Actually, if you can get the old vintage parelli, it is really excellent. The new stuff is mostly Linda. It is really a pity. But the old VHS tapes on Pat are great and you can probably buy them on ebay and convert them to DVD. No Linda, and excellent detail.

    • I have to agree about Pat’s original tapes being excellent. In fact, my first exposure to Natural Horsemanship was one of Pat’s original tapes on the 7 games. Then later RFDTV started showing Linda Parelli, Clinton, Dennis Reis, Chris Cox, and all the other clinicians. All the segments with Pat were from his tours, and they were more entertainment than educational.

  9. I promote a gentleman by the name of Gary Hunt. I have most of Pat Parelli disks, Johnathan Field and more. I have been training my own horses for years. I will tell you something, Gary Hunt can truly do some amazing things.
    I have seen him put a saddle on a horse in less then 30 minutes and not have it buck. I have seen him start to finishing a colt in an hour a day for 5 days. These are not rough starts, or even rushed but well trained animals.
    They are taught ground manners, to move off pressure, to stop, turn and back up better then most horses that people ride every day.
    The best part of Gary Hunt, he is 1/3 the price of most others out there.
    Thanks Gord Searle

    • For anyone that cares, Gord Searle is not now and will never again be associated with Gary Hunt.

  10. Parelli is good, but I am definitely a big CLINTON ANDERSON fan. Thanks to him, my mare is now becoming a respectful and receptive partner. Clinton is very easy to understand and he is never boring. He’s very direct and his methods simply work.

    Highly recommend Clinton!!!!!

  11. I love the philosophy by Parelli (dignity of the horse, put the relationship first), but it’s impossible to get anywhere in the program without buying a bunch of stuff, like upwards of $500. And that’s just to get started. Horses are expensive anyway, much more if you have to buy all that gear!
    I have a blog on wordpress too, and I did a post about that. WordPress automatically linked it to this post in the section called “possibly related posts.”

  12. theres all this back and forth on Parelli vs Anderson, but what a lot of people dont know is that Clinton Anderson was taught by Pat Parelli and others before he went out on his own. They both market their products and events like crazy, but thats the day and age we live in. They both have tv shows on RFD TV. I personally chose Parelli over Anderson just because it seemed to me they are trying to teach the human just as much as the horse. Dont forget about Ray Hunt and Tom Dorrance, they may have both passed on but there is still a lot to be learned from them.

  13. I am sorry to tell you this amber but your words about Clinton learning from Pat Parelli are totally unfounded and false.
    Baffles me why Parelli fans insist on continuing with this lie every chance they can?
    Kind of getting old, and lacks class.
    I will sign a written document stating this, and back it 100%
    “Clinton Anderson has NEVER been taught by Pat Parelli………
    I know the family and I know where this incredible horse talent lean’t the things he knows.
    And it wasn’t with Pat Parelli.
    Anything they have in similarity goes back to the old great teachers Hunt and Dorance.

    • That’s funny. I was at a Parelli demo at Minnesota Expo many years ago and saw Pat Parelli introduce his very talented student, Clinton Anderson.

      • False.. Clinton was trained by IAN FRANCIS .

  14. people people , you can get a well trained horse from anyones training, but the question does the horse get a good owner in the end. I have watched all the trainers about and , I worry about many of the so call fast track trainers, A fast trained horse is a fast acting horse , both good and bad. OH and I don’t trust a horse trainer that calls horses names. It shows their inside feelings, you want a teacher calling youir kids names.

    • I totally agree about the “fast track” trainers bit. There are so many untrained “people” who send a horse off for training, then don’t know how to maintain and progress on what the horse has learned. Or better yet! Folks who advertise 60 Days Pro Training and sell them to novice riders! I never ever Expect that i should have any of my green horses runnin circles n’ doin dances within 8-12 weeks. I make sure i raise and train a solid, reliable and WILLING partner and understand that it takes TIME to really develop that trust and certainty with any horse.

  15. Lets stop and think about the riders for a second. That’s where horses learn their habits. All the best trainers in the world don’t matter if the rider can’t be a good one that listens to their horse.
    Listen or your tongue will make you deaf. I learned the most about horses by standing in a herd of thirty and just listening with my eyes. Let them teach you first then teach them. Hope everyone is having a great day and remembers our horses are our teachers and best friends!

  16. Someone will have to explain these ” methods” to me it all looks to me like teaching tricks… I do see horses realy interested I see horses that look like circuss horses from the good old days : raise the hands: the horse rears, put the hand down the lyes down, as for the ropes and the wips and the “tools” I have always use those very rarely with horses and only to defend my self from dangerous horses, raised by people who do not quite understand the notion of respect ( from both parties ) and discipline ( also from both parties). The other thing is that I have seen plenty of abusive behavior from handlers of the parelli method just like with any other “method”. Not one fits all…

    • I’m not sure what a “handler of Parelli” is. The fundamentals of Natural Horsemanship are based on the horse, not the human. There is nothing that the Parellis or Clinton Anderson teaches that would ever resemble abuse. I’m not sure what you’ve seen. Both methods put the horse first in the relationship as it should be.

  17. It’s always a spirited debate between two excellent horsemen by all accounts. I am partial to Parelli myself.

  18. The very first time I saw Clinton Anderson, it was his tv show on RFD. I was already a couple years into the parelli techniques and was horrified by CA’s total predatory behavior. He was chasing the horse around in a circle about an arms length away from him at a canter. The horse was terrified, his head about 2 feet higher than is normal, and CA didn’t think the horse was going fast enough, so he proceeded to repeatedly kick him in the ribs. If that wasn’t bad enough, CA did the same thing with one, then two feet hobbled. I felt so sorry for this horse, CA had the rope so short he couldn’t even get out of the way of CA’s foot. If that’s not cruel, I don’t know what is. It makes me so sad that as long as someone can MAKE a horse do something that people buy it and believe in it.

    Also, I’ve heard a lot of people on here say that Parelli is all commercial and trying to sell you stuff. Well Parelli does have a couple tv commercials but they only run during their tv show time slot and their magazine ads are usually only one page in the middle. However, isn’t CA guilty of this too? I can’t even look at a horse magazine without there being at least 5 ads from CA and training articles from him and to top it off the whole back cover is usually a promo for him. His ads run all day everyday on RFD too.

    As for Parelli’s stuff being way more expensive, this might surprise you. A parelli halter and lead rope is $60 one from CA is $65. A Parelli stick and string is $35 and one from CA is $45. All four parelli levels are $300 and CA’s fundamentals set is $400. And then CA is always pushing his legacy boots, the tie rings, the extra dvds, ect. So isn’t CA more expensive AND more commercial? I’d say yes!

    So Clinton Anderson v.s. Parelli? I choose Parelli.

    • I agree with you my friend loaned me her CA DvD’s before I decided on Parelli and I was just sick the way that he (CA) treated a horse in order to establish respect from the animal. The 2 friends that follow CA their horses are so scared and freaked out with any new environments or situations that one of them wants to get rid of their horse.Its not the horses fault.If you their best friend is scaring the crap out of them to establish your respect why would they trust you in a new or scary situation.My horses are Parelli groundwork trained and my friends say I wish my horse was like that.Well it can be sell the CA dvd and follow someone who is truly interested in creating a relationship with their horse.That is how you get your horse to respect you. BTW I was told by another clinician this past weekend that CA was a Parelli dropout.They told him to leave. I was also told by a friend that a man paid big money to have CA train his horse at his ranch and the guy took the horse home part way through because CA was too mean to his horse. I agree that Parelli there is alot to remember but my horses do very well with it and they trust me and I have a fabulous relationship with my horses.

    • Every trainer markets his method. Who would follow a trainer who’s advertising said, “Well, there are a lot of people out there who are doing the same thing I am, only a little different, but you can try my way if you want, it’s up to you.” That’s hardly a convincing message. If a trainer truly believes that they have something of value to offer, they will seek a way to convince others to try it.

      If you really read their writings and listen to what they say overall (not just on this or that occasion), both Parelli and Clinton credit others for their accomplishments. It’s pretty obvious that they both love horses and work hard to improve their horsemanship. Are they interested in making a profit? Of course, it’s business. Is money the bottom line for either one? I doubt it.

      And yes, their materials are expensive, but so are their production costs. Until we know what they actually spent in time, materials, and manpower to create those products, let’s not criticize them for charging us what we consider to be exorbitant costs. (And I speak as someone who can’t afford to buy products from either trainer. I have to borrow nearly every DVD I see, as I’m lucky to be able to afford my horse!)

      And I’m pretty sure both Parelli and Clinton hire pros to do their marketing for them, to shape their message in a way that effectively draws people to their methods and products. Let’s not fall into the trap of attributing every advertising move to that individual trainer.

  19. Well I just viewed Clinton Anderson’s video on his site and HAULING on the horses head and yanking is NOT natural! Pat Parelli would laugh him out of the arena, as for “tricks” you are not getting the entire or even a partial of the method and WHY it’s used. It’s about the RELATIONSHIP with the horse, the methods should never involve YANKING on a horses mouth… Pat’s program works for ANYONE – that’s why he’s spent so much time developing a “program” a step by step for any one… not just to ride bridle-less but to teach HUMANs how to think and behave with their horses!

  20. I am a relative novice and foster rescued horses. We just got two new ones and I discovered Parelli recently. I have never been able to work with my rescues until watching the parelli videos. Im making progress daily and he is very easy to follow. Im doing his online membership for 10 per month and I cant get enough of it. For the first time I am truly connecting with my animals and we will be officially adopting these horses.

  21. I love them both! But I choose the Parelli training method. It works really well for me and my horses. I cannot begin to tell you how well we are doing. I am up to Level 3 and loving every minute with my horses! I think it is an individuals decision on what work best for there situation. So I give big props to Both!!! Great job!!!

  22. I’ve used the Parelli method for about 4 years at a camp I work at, and the manager started using it with all 20 of the camp horses after trying it on her own horse. It was amazing to see the difference. Now these horses weren’t psycho or anything, but for new riders they definitely a challenge for them to handle. After Parelli, yes there are still problems with new riders not knowing how to do something right and the horses “walking all over” them but the horses have never been calmer. This is the method that I had learned and really like using because it’s about teaching the person HOW to train the horse in a way the horse will understand. I just recently got my own horse (finally!), and tried the Driving Game on his rear end in the barn before he smooshed a kid in the hallway. To my amazement, with worked on phase 1 the first time. The previous owner of my horse is allowing me to borrow some of her tack till I can purchase my own, so while I was looking for her leg wraps, I found a Clinton Anderson rope halter (no wonder Hollywood went on a phase 1! he already knew it!). I found a Clinton Anderson video online and watched it…yes he got results fast, but it seemed like he wasn’t giving his horse time to think about what to do so he forced it to do something. Now this could just be my inner Parelli speaking, but this didn’t seem like the right way to handle it at all. However I’ve also heard that Parelli “dulls” your horse which is evident in the camp horses I work with. Now I love Hollywood and his curiosity in everything and his “just put the saddle on and let’s go” attitude, so I want to do what’s best for him but with so many negative things about Parelli and Clinton Anderson, I don’t know which one to do or if I should just wait till May when the daughter-in-law of my barn’s manager is coming in offering lessons(she’s a trainer at a huge ranch/barn a couple hours away)? There really are no problems with him on the ground other than he likes to be in your bubble after a long ride and he’s itchy. What is everyone’s suggestions? I’d greatly appreciate your insight. I’ve already talked to my Grandma( a horse raiser/trainer for 20 years…about 25 years ago. she showed AQHA and one of the horses she raised I think went to either the Olympic trials or the Olympics but I don’t remember which or their name), but she’s more old school without being cruel…well most Parelli people I know would probably call her cruel but those are just her methods and she did just fine with them. Anyways…so yeah I’d like to hear your opinions! Thanks!

  23. I just love how judgmental we all are about the different trainers. I am just now studying Parelli and I also read CA and Monty Roberts and Mark Rashid. Natural horseman all. All have some commercial value, they sell their knowledge, hopefully as horse people we can take what we need and leave out what we don’t. It does no good to repeat rumor or gossip to the masses. I came to this sight to find out the differences in trainers and I meant styles and find opinions on their personalities and is this helpful? I like some of the Parelli stuff and the Anderson stuff and Roberts stuff and what works for my horse wins. Anyone?

  24. I like what you said there, Paula. I suspect that preferences for particular clinicians are based heavily on individual personalities, values and learning styles. Like that college professor you loved and your friend hated. What makes sense to you may not to someone else, and vice versa.

    Back to the Clinton vs. Parelli theme: as noted in the blog, Clinton and Parelli share very similar baseline training techniques. Both methods increased my knowledge, skill and confidence with horses, and I enjoy studying both trainers. But I resonate more with Parelli’s comprehensive “self-improvement” program.

    Do I expect everyone to respond the way I do? No, because they’re not me. I have friends who totally connect to Clinton and think Parelli is a little wacko. But when it comes to the essentials—understanding the horse’s nature, using gentle but effective methods (“as easy as possible, but as firm as necessary”), avoiding gadgets, communicating in a way the horse can understand, staying safe, etc.—we agree. And in the long run, our horses end up pretty much the same: calm, confident, respectful, happy partners.

    All these natural horse trainers—Anderson, Parelli, Cox, Westfall, Roberts and others—try hard to do the right thing, the natural thing by the horse. Let’s show some respect for each other, learn from each other and work together for the good of the horse.

    Hopefully we can all tell when a horse enjoys being with his human and when he doesn’t, when he’s calm and confident and when he’s not, when he’s getting better instead of worse. If the horse approves, we should too.

  25. I have a 15 month old quarterhorse who was very respectful of me and anyone that wanted to be around him. I had him gelded at the age of 8 months because I had no intentions of using him for breeding. Now at 15 months he has become aggressive and has struck out/walked over people. This HAD to stop if I wanted a respectful horse. I have worked with horses for and I have watched Clinton, Parelli’s BUT have fallen in love with Gord Searle’s way with horses. I have started with Step 1 of Personal Space And Control. I have already received great response with my yearling just from Day 1. I will continue to use Gord’s method because I haven’st seen anyone better than him. I want to thank Gord Searle for his advice in his video’s. This man truly understands horses.

  26. Hi I’ve been working with horses for about 50 years….started riding at 4 years old and am an equestrian coach. I’ve worked with the Parelli approach (without the hype) worked with Buck and a few of the famous coaches….the excellent ones. I coach upper level dressage, eventing and jumping..and bridleless (which I learned from Linda Tellington-Jones in the 1980’s). The one thing that stands out for me and keeps me from even attending a Clinton clinic, as I believe a coach never stops learning…form the horses or other the look in his horses eyes…not soft, trusting and relaxed…but suspicious, and somewhat distrustful. The people I’ve worked with their horses eyes are soft relaxed, trusting and they have confidence…Clinton’s look like the eyes of some military vets who have seen too much..I was in the military 20 years, so that look in horses very closely resembles the eyes of a veteran working through PTSD. Kind of numb.

  27. I have a friend who is looking to buy a Clinton Anderson signature horse. Has anyone heard good or bad about these horses or know someone who has bought one and are they worth the price?

  28. CA yanking on the horses and acting like a predator is so upseting how can people watch that? I love a respectful approach I think I will go with Parelli he and the horses he works with are calm and peaceful. I want a nice time not a crazed maniac acting my God that woman yanked yanked yanked the horse when he did something wrong and they ran the horses flailing their arms who wants that? Parelli for me and I may look into others but enough C. Anderson already.

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