Saturday, October 26, 2013

Bryna Helle, Paying it Forward, through the Parelli Education Institute

When Minnesotan Bryna Helle accepted her 2013 Internship Scholarship from the Parelli Education Institute, she promised that she would NOT pay it back. She would, instead, Pay it Forward. She promised that she would use her Parelli Education to help the world become a better place for horses and humans.

And so, on Oct. 4, 2013, just a couple of weeks after completing her Internship, Bryna arrived at DoubleHP Horse Sanctuary & Learning Center near Sioux Falls, SD. To Pay it Forward.
DoubleHP (Horse Help Providers, Inc.) is a 501c3 nonprofit organization for equine welfare; and Bryna spent 9 days there, nurturing natural horsemanship relationships between some of the sanctuary horses who live there and the human rescuers and sponsors who now love and care for these horses. Bryna did not charge a fee for this education. She Paid it Forward.

Bryna’s Parelli Natural Horsemanship Mastery / Internship Program lasted for 6 weeks in August and September 2013, at the Parelli Center in Pagosa Springs, CO.  Not just anyone gets in to this Internship program. There were six Interns, and how interesting that they are from six different countries: Switzerland, Germany, Sweden, New Zealand, Australia, and the United States (Minnesota, Bryna’s home state).  The six Interns concentrated on their own horsemanship and teaching theories the first and last weeks of the program. Their lead instructor was 4 Star Senior Instructor Kristi Smith from Iowa; they also got to ride directly under Linda and Pat Parelli! During the four middle weeks, the Interns served as Coaches for a group of 34 pre-professional Parelli students in the Fast Track.
The Interns were also selected to be the opening Savvy Team demo for the 2013 Parelli Performance Summit. One of their goals was to show what they can do as horsemen and performers, but Bryna says it’s much more than that. “It’s about the desire to inspire others; and it’s about the ability to function in a group, to be cohesive as a team 100% of the time, to know when to take the spotlight and when to give it to another team member. The team mentality among us (the Interns) was incredible, and I felt close to all of them after just one day.”
Bryna believes that the horses who come into our lives, come into our lives for a reason. Horses teach us life lessons, if we will stay open to learning from them. “Learning to Trust” is a life lesson that became a theme for Bryna during her 6-week Parelli Internship.  Trusting that her students would accept and explore the seeds of learning to further develop their horsemanship. Trusting that the Internship group would always function as a team. Trusting in her horse, in her horsemanship, in herself.
“Trust is what allows us to not micromanage our horses, to not micromanage our students, to not micromanage ourselves,” she says.
Aside from all of the lessons, tests, scores, auditions, statistics, theories, levels, etc., that help prepare Parelli Professionals for success, what does it really take to get along and get ahead? Here’s what Bryna suggests: “As Pat says, ‘Get up early, stay up late, and act like a partner.’ Be ready to shake hands with any opportunity that comes your way, because you never know what is possible and what might happen on the ranch. Plans change, sometimes spur of the moment, so be ready to stay on your balance point!”

So what’s next for Bryna? Education and more education! She recently graduated from Macalester College in St. Paul, MN, with a Degree in Environmental Studies and a minor in Psychology. She will soon apply to advance as a 3 Star Parelli Instructor. Currently she offers lessons and workshops both at home in Minnesota and away. (Maybe near you!)  During the Summer of 2014 she will ride under Pat Parelli in a Colt Start Course and a Western Performance Course. But on her way to Colorado for those courses, she plans to stop again at DoubleHP in South Dakota, for about a week, to Pay it Forward some more. To Pay it Forward to the sanctuary horses who live there (most were rescued from starvation) and to the humans who now love and care for these very special horses. These very special teachers of life lessons. These horses, who Pay it Forward every single day as they help humans figure things out. 

Bryna Helle’s website

Parelli Natural Horsemanship website
The #1 Horsemanship Program in the World
Parelli Natural Horsemanship's goal is to help raise the level of horsemanship worldwide for the benefit of horses and the people who love them. By practicing the Parelli program to gain an understanding of horse behavior and effective communication skills, horsemen of all disciplines and skill levels are able to build solid, reliable foundations with their horses.
Founded by Pat and Linda Parelli, Parelli Natural Horsemanship is now the world's most popular horsemanship education program, with campuses in the United States, United Kingdom and Australia, and hundreds of thousands of students in dozens of countries around the world.

Parelli Education Institute
(including Pay it Forward Program info.)

Dedicated to youth horsemanship, therapeutic horsemanship, and equine welfare. The Pay it Forward programs help the Parelli Professionals grow in their own horsemanship through real-world experience with a variety of horses and humans. Pay It Forward is a promise that you will use your education from the Parelli Education Institute to help the world become a better place for horses and humans.



Saturday, October 19, 2013

Thanks ASPCA for our 2013 Equine Training Grant

Our grant report to ASPCA is due next week. A report about how we used our Equine Training Grant. I wanted to wait until Bryna Helle finished her Pay it Forward event here though, because it's all related.

It all started about a year ago, when we applied for and received an ASPCA Equine Training Grant. We wanted to have a Resident Instructor here to help some of our rescued horses and help some of our volunteers and sponsors who love and care for these horses here at our GFAS sanctuary.

In May 2013, Licensed Parelli Instructor Bryna Helle stayed here and provided lessons and workshops. Seven of our younger rescued horses received approximately 100 hours of training. Roman, now a big energetic 4 year old, received 26 hours with his partner Britt. We rescued Roman 3 days before the loose horse (slaughter horse) sale he was going to. He was a 2 year old then.

Lily, a beautiful 8 year old APHA mare, received 21 hours. Lily has become a great riding horse and has been on several trailrides. She was rescued from starvation as a 3 year old. Her friend died of starvation, but we were able to save Lily. Lily excels at riding and also at the "online" levels in Parelli Natural Horsemanship. She enjoys jumping and standing on pedestals and playing with the big green ball and things like that!
Rocky had several human partners in May and received 20 hours of training from our ASPCA grant. Here he is with his most regular current partner, Taryn. On the left is Parelli Instructor Bryna Helle with her horse Holly.
Jewel received 12 hours of training. Jewel still does not have a regular sponsor. she is a beautiful APHA mare (no spots though), about 10 years young. she does have some trust issues around her face and ears (she came here that way and needs a consistent human partner to help her get over it.) She is a beautiful mover and has been a riding horse at various times but needs a person to be consistent with her. So, we are hoping someone will want to consistently and long-term partner up with Jewel in our horsemanship program and help her through her trust/confidence issues. This is a photo of Andrea sharing some undemanding time with Jewel, during a lesson with Bryna Helle in May 2013.

 Minerva received 11 hours of training from our ASPCA grant in May. Minerva is already a nice riding horse. We rescued her as a wild, starving yearling. But she has come a long way. she has a long story including quite a few foster homes and even an adopter. But nothing really worked out for Minerva until finally we just brought her here to the sanctuary to live and trained her as a riding horse, at which she excels! But there is still a lot she can learn, she is so smart; so our ongoing, progressive horsemanship program is great for her. Here is Minerva with her current rider/sponsor, Lisa, during a lesson with Bryna Helle (and her assistant Emma) in October 2013.
Shadow received 10 hours of training in our May event. Shadow is a living miracle and is quite stunted from his starvation as a baby and again as a yearling & 2 year old. (this too is a long frustrating story, but officials gave him back to owners who starved him for a second year in a row. We finally got ownership of him and have promised him a forever home here.) Even though he is small and went through horrible times of malnourishment during his critical bone/joint development years, he IS sound so far. so we are riding him now, very lightly. He is a very smart boy and certainly does enjoy life now! Here he is with his friend Angela during a "Horsenality" workshop with Bryna in May. Angela has been a horse sponsor here for about a year now. She does not care which horse her sponsor money goes toward; she simply loves and learns from them all.
And our Beautiful Bella received 3 hours of special lessons with Bryna. Bryna was going to spend a lot more time with our Bella, but we are having some trouble keeping Bella sound. She is fine for several months, and then has a little lameness issue, an abscess or something related to her club foot. We have had her to the Vet several times and done xrays, etc. Just one of those mystery things that happens to about 50% of our young rescued horses who go through severe malnourishment during their critical bone/joint development years. Bella is available for sponsorship though and right now appears to be 100% sound. Here is beautiful Bella, with her buddy Shadow in the background. They are survivors together. They survived the same terrible years together, and we have promised them both a forever home here at our GFAS sanctuary.
Some of our other sanctuary and rescued horses received some lesson time with Bryna too, but these 7 were the biggest part of our ASPCA grant money.
So then, after Bryna left here in May, she spent a couple of months in Colorado and completed an Internship Program at Parelli Campus in Pagosa Springs, CO. She received a scholarship from Parelli Education Institute and promised to "Pay it Forward." (We are working on a separate story about this.) Bryna chose our organization to receive her "Pay it Forward" gift.
And so, from Oct. 4-13, 2013, Bryna and Emma and her horse Holly stayed here and gave lessons again for our sanctuary horses and some of our volunteers and horse sponsors. Bryna donated about 40 more hours to us and our horses.
Bryna plans to return here in May 2014 for about a week and is trying to secure another grant to again donate lessons and workshops for our horses and their sponsors.
And so, you might want to think about getting started in our horsemanship program here. And then you will be eligible for Bryna's lessons in May.
And it all started with our ASPCA Equine Training Grant. That's the way these things are supposed to work. And all of the other people who took lessons and observed our workshops, etc., they and their horses at home benefited too.
Do you Pay it Forward? I do! I am a full-time volunteer here, and I personally sponsor many of the rescued horses who live here (because we really don't have very many other horse sponsors right now). Thank you to our volunteers and sponsors. We are a small but mighty bunch! If you would like to help sponsor a horse or start our horsemanship program or help with chores, etc., give me (Darci) a call 605 359-0961 or email
The horses here sure Pay it Forward, every single day, they help humans figure things out.
Thanks to Parelli Education Institute and Instructor Bryna Helle.
Thanks to ASPCA for the Equine Training Grant
that got the whole thing going!