Marie-Claire de Selliers
3 Star Parelli Instructor
Marie-Claire de Selliers discovered her passion for horses at age 4. She spent her childhood riding mostly bareback and natural style. At 14, she started taking classes and began competing in dressage and jumping.
While she was completing her psychology studies, she discovered the benefits of horse riding for disabled children: a vocation was born. As a qualified special needs therapist, she trained and qualified as a riding teacher in Saumur in 1980 and went on to create « Les Rênes de la Vie », a horse-based therapy centre in Belgium, her homeland. She continued competing, moving on to eventing.
In her quest to provide more autonomy to the disabled children, she trained her ponies on the ground, at liberty and with voice cues. And looked for support.
In 1997, thanks to different press articles, she discovered the “horse whisperers”. Pat Parelli's approach seemed to be the closest to what she was looking for, so she went to Colorado for a two-week training course with him. At the time she thought that she just needed to learn groundwork, but she quickly understood that there was more to it. She discovered not only a new attitude to horses but also a new way to teach both horses and humans.
For the next four years she went back to Colorado regularly to learn from Pat Parelli. Back in Belgium, she applied what she was learning with her horses and also with the ponies in her centre, « Les Rênes de la Vie », so that children with special needs could practice groundwork and discover a different relationship with horses. In 2001, she graduated as a three-star Parelli professional. Two years later she opened the Haras Naturel du Plessis with her husband.
The Plessis is a training centre devoted to teaching Parelli Natural Horsemanship and breeding Barb-Arabians in the beautiful Loire valley in France. She continued going back to the USA regularly to perfect her skills with Linda and Pat Parelli. She shares their goal to make this world a better place for horses and humans.
In 2009 she chose to stop the breeding activity to continue teaching and to take the time to invest in new education projects like story telling, healthy cooking, permaculture... seeking to enlarge her holistic approach to human and nature.
Marie-Claire about her horses:
«I still remember Ficelle, my first pony, and Dikidi, my first competition horse, Toscan, my first eventing partner, and all the others. It’s with Origan, a Belgian warmblood, that I started the Parelli program. Together we reached level 4. After my first stay at Pat Parelli's, Origan was impressed by my new skills. But very quickly, he started doing his best to push me and all my techniques to the limit! He gave me no other choice but to be persevering, firm and fair... in short, to develop all the qualities of a natural leader.
I bought Origan as a foal and followed my childhood dream to own a beautiful stallion. Pat Parelli helped me to understand that as I was not planning to use him for breeding purposes, the quality of his social life would be much better as a gelding. Neither Origan nor I have ever regretted this decision. He found his place in the herd easily and proved to be an excellent leader, without ever showing any signs of aggression. At the Plessis, he spent his days wandering freely in the grounds and the nights in the field with his friends. It was a pleasure to watch him choose his favourite spots for different times of the day, including keeping watch on the kitchen door at mealtimes. »
« Quivala is one of the first generation of Barb-Arabiens born at the Haras Naturel du Plessis, in 2004. We were attracted to each other at the first glance. She too has taught me a great deal, since I'd almost always had extroverted horses and she is a left-brain introvert. She has a very strong personality and always tries to make me work harder than her. I've had to develop my imagination and my creativity to be an interesting and motivating partner for her. Consequently, the joy I feel when she answers my requests with enthusiasm, or even takes the initiative and suggests a new game, is enormous.
Quivala and Origan had pretty extreme horsenalities. They were charismatic and demanding teachers and I have a deep sense of gratitude towards them.»
Enjoy Marie-Claire's Photo Gallery