What is Natural Horsemanship and How It Gives Your Horses Freedom & Confidence
There is a lot of talk these days about natural horsemanship.
I’m sure you have heard about it, but there is a lot of back and forth on whether people think it is a useful practice or not. This article is going to give you an insight into what exactly natural horsemanship is, what it isn’t, and why it truly is revolutionizing the equine industry.
The first thing I want to ask you is… What do you think of when you think of a truly successful horse and rider team?
Don’t worry about what TYPE of riding they do, just think of a team that is truly connected, balanced, harmonious, in sync, and fluid.
Have any come to mind?
Well, these kinds of partnerships are actually crafted using natural horsemanship training principles! Believe it or not.
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Let’s talk a little more about what natural horsemanship is
Natural horsemanship is frankly just another term for “gentle cowboy training techniques.” (For lack of better terminology!)
There are many different styles and variations of natural horsemanship, and not all of what is labeled natural horsemanship is really natural horsemanship.
Natural horsemanship’s main principle, when done correctly is to train up the horse with kindness and in respect to the way they naturally think and act, not against these factors.
Natural horsemanship seeks to create a harmonious partnership with the horse that, to the onlooker, looks unworldly due to the fact that everything between the horse and rider is entirely seamless.
The natural horsemanship horse tends to also enjoy its job rather than responding with sourness towards any ask or whim of the handler. In short, it really means a true and lasting partnership founded on respect.
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What is NOT natural horsemanship
Since the 1980s when natural horsemanship became a spotlight in mainstream horse training there have been many variations and methods created based on natural horsemanship principles that are not truly natural horsemanship at all.
There have been instances of rollkur being heavily used in some form of natural horsemanship and various other issues.
No matter the type of training, there are always going to be those who will use a method ineffectively or find a way to encourage cruelness.
Natural horsemanship tends to always be more gentle than standard or modern horse training methods.
Be very wary of methods that seem overly harsh or that could cause unsoundness in your horses body. Many training methods, if used incorrectly can and will inflict damage on the horses body, but when used correctly can benefit them.
This is why understanding your horses bodily makeup and biomechanics is highly important and encouraged in natural horsemanship.
How does natural horsemanship benefit your horse?
Before we can even begin to understand how natural horsemanship benefits your horse, you need to first understand how your horses mind operates. This is an essential aspect of natural horsemanship.
Your horse (in a sense) has two different and distinct “mind-sets”
The thinking side of the brain vs. The reactive to stimuli side of the brain
The horse is naturally a prey animal, and thus acts instinctively (to…everything.)
This is also why your horse may randomly spook at things. Because of this nature, your horse automatically will use their flight over fight tendencies and shut off the thinking side of their brain and simply react by running away, sidestepping, snorting, or whatever else they may do.
You sure are not going to be able to train a horse that isn’t using their thinking side of the brain. Natural horsemanship will actually teach you how to teach your horse to USE the thinking portion in their brain and engage learning.
Beyond this, natural horsemanship will use the horses natural longing and desire for an established herd pecking order to increase respect levels by moving the horses feet to show dominance and hierarchy.
This builds the horses trust and they respond by showing respect. Respect is one of the most common issues among horses in training!
If you want to naturally handle these issues and allow your horse the room to be asked to do something softly, make the right choice and get rewarded or make the wrong choice and be allowed to do so and then asked to follow through with fixing the issue and preventing it, then natural horse training is your best route.
There are numerous benefits to natural horsemanship, I really think I could probably spend half a day typing away at my computer about all of the benefits, but I will spare you all!
The truly funniest part is that as a child I was actually extremely against “natural training techniques” I had the thought process that it was just a waste of time and silly…
Unfortunately, I had this assumption because a local “trainer” had moved in and did “flag therapy training” where they said it was natural horsemanship, even though it was far from it.
Because I didn’t know any better at the time, I stayed away from it until into my adulthood!
I’m thankful that I have been able to devote so much time to studying and learning about the art of natural horsemanship… because it truly is an art, not just a training technique, and dare I even say a way of life?
How does natural horsemanship benefit you as a rider and bring you and your horse closer?
The number one way it benefits you as a rider is that it makes you so much more aware of every aspect of horsemanship, training, and even into your daily life. Natural horsemanship does not only build respect in the horse, but in the human too!
It brings you closer together as a horse and rider combination because you are working together at a level that many other people simply choose to ignore because they do not want to take the time.
I’m not sure when patience ever became a bad thing, but there are many people who really feel that natural horsemanship is just a long way to go about getting somewhere you can get in a much shorter time using modern or mechanical horse training tactics.
Just because one process WORKS does not necessarily mean that it is the right way to go about doing it.
I truly feel that the longer process that comes from doing something right the first time can actually save you time, money, and heart in the long run.
Natural horsemanship aims to go about the training process correctly the first time, in a way that actually agrees with the horses body and mind.
Natural horsemanship works with the horse instead of against them, or instead of forcing them into something they simply are not ready for as most horse training techniques do.
This process of taking the extra time and effort creates a bond between horse and handler unlike any you will experience in your life.
There is nothing closer, and if I may tell you, that horse may even put its life on the line for you one day. Can you say that about your horse now?
I know I had one horse that truly put his life on the line to protect me in a horrible accident many years ago. If it wasn’t for the bond I shared with that horse, I would not even be here with you today.
Natural horsemanship always seeks to honor the horse and rider. Create unity and harmony.
With the ability to revolutionize the horse world in the palm of our and our children’s hands, lets shape the horse world in a positive direction.
Seeking to lift up and love our horses and honor them as one of God’s beautiful creations! Horses are truly amazing and speak to the power and wonder of our amazing God.
Natural horsemanship is one of the greatest ways to solidly train a horse with care and compassion without sacrificing results.
Bible Verse Of The Day:
Matthew 21:21 Jesus replied, “Truly I tell you, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and it will be done.