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Horsemanship

Horsemanship, or to be more specific, Natural Horsemanship, just what is it? Many people think of riding off into the sunset bareback and bridle-less while others just want a better, safer relationship with their horse.

Horsemanship, or to be more specific, Natural Horsemanship, just what is it? Many people think of riding off into the sunset bareback and bridle-less while others just want a better, safer relationship with their horse.

With so many Trainers out there who use the natural moniker, it can sometimes be confusing as to just what defines natural horsemanship. Some view it as simply a gentler way, or the absence of brutality. However, I have seen many examples of trainers professing and selling natural horsemanship, yet when I walk away, I just don’t feel right. I’m sure many of you have seen and felt as I have. Trainers who act like Domino’s pizza... they can do it in thirty minutes or less. Ya, they get the horse saddled and many times ride the horse, but what has the horse learned? Then you have the other side of that, ground-skills and round-pen work ad nauseum. Round and round and round we go, where we stop nobody knows. Again, what has the horse learned? Most of us got a horse for one reason...to ride. I believe that while it takes a lot of skill and courage to get a broke horse saddled and mounted in thirty minutes, that should not define natural. And while groundwork should be a part of any training regime, it should not define natural.

With all that said, you may be asking, well… what is it? Now I can only offer my opinion based on experience and observation. Horsemanship is not in and of itself a plan, program or method; you cannot have the insert tab A into slot B mentality. Every horse has its own unique personality and sometimes challenges.  This is not to say that a program doesn’t have its place - many programs are great teaching tools for the Human.  A horseman I admire and look up to would say to me: “I don’t want you to do what I do; I want you to see what I see.” It took years for that to sink in, look for that, try, recognize it, reward it.

Many times horsemanship is only practiced in the round pen or arena. I believe horsemanship never stops. As I tell my students - Your horse is always learning - it’s up to you to teach good habits. This means in every interaction with your horse, you must be aware and conscious of what is going on.

I have only three rules:

1. Stay safe

2. Stay relaxed

3. Have fun

If, at any point, a rule is broken, put your horse away and start fresh later. Every year, hundreds of people are hurt or killed because they broke rule #1. Stay relaxed not only on the ground, but in the saddle. Horses are instinctually programmed to read you. If you are relaxed, your horse will learn to relax. If you are tight, your horse will be tight. Finally, have fun. Seriously, isn’t this why we have and love these beautiful animals? If you’re not having fun, put your hose away and take a break. If you are overwhelmed, either find a teacher who can help you and your horse or go buy a goldfish.

If anything I have said makes sense or if nothing I have said makes sense, I would love to hear from you. I will do my best to answer any questions you may have. I am also available for private or group lessons.

If you’d like additional support with horsemanship, please contact me.