07-29-2011, 08:53 AM
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Here's a step towards a middle ground.
First of all, for many reasons, I dislike the term NH whether it's self applied or applied by others. There's good horsemanship and there's bad horsemanship, neither is natural or unnatural.
Some of the self described natural horseman have very interesting insights into equine behavior, and very interesting methods, and we can learn from them. I may not want to endorse the entire method or program, but there are useful things I can incorporate with my own methods.
The self described NH people, particularly those who talk about "bonding" tend to appeal to a certain type of amatuer horseperson. In the hunter world, we would talk about those amateur in terms of 4 Fs - forty, fat, fearful and female.
Is the goofy woman in that email applying NH techniques correctly? Of course not. Is it the NH practitioner's fault? No. Is it really a valid example of the method? Nope. But the fact of the matter is, a lot of NH trainers or in general, people who want to sell DVDs, *know* that that's their market.
Some of them even exploit that market.
When I think of NH, I think of a 4F I know very carefully demonstrating some of the groundwork exercises from a training DVD and immediately afterward allowing the horse to walk all over her begging for handfed treats. She was blissfully unaware of the contridictions in her actions.
Does this make the excercise on the training DVD bad, wrong or less than useful? Nope. What it does mean is that it's pretty hard to turn a timid, tentative horsewoman with romantic delusions into an assertive, effective horsetrainer.