I dont understand Natural Horsemanship.....
   

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I dont understand Natural Horsemanship.....

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  • Buck brannaman
  • Equine natural horsemanship certification

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    10-08-2013, 12:49 PM
  #1
Weanling
I dont understand Natural Horsemanship.....

Ok, I have heard the term thrown around for years, and quite frankly have always turned my nose up and chuckled under my breath at the notion. However, recently I have decided that despite my presumptions, I really have no clue what it is about, and have no real reason to look down on it.

I am an educated person, so am always willing to at the very least hear the other side of anything.

For some background, let me say, I grew up around running QH, Western pleasure QH and, cattle horses. Now I deal mostly with gaited horses and barrel stock Appy's.

We essentially leave them to their own devices till they are weaned, once weaned bring them in, break them to lead, and do some socialization with them. At 18mo or so, we introduce the saddle and pony them either from a 4 wheeler, or horse, for a few months then at 2yo we jump on and ride them 'til they will ride, with obvious conserns toward young joints and physical developement. Then at 3 we begin to teach a job....

I have no idea how all of this aligns with or against Natural Horsemanship, but it seems to me like NH puts a ton of emphasis, on "if I do enough ground work, then itll be OK".....

Now, Please educate me, because I am really interested in at least learning. Im not looking for a blow by blow, thesis, just a basic understanding.

Jim
     
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    10-08-2013, 12:59 PM
  #2
Green Broke
Natural horsemanship is to take the normal behaviors of horses and to apply the concepts to training. Some people don't really understand what they're doing or why with the groundwork and get a little....over enthusiastic about it.

For example, when a new horse is introduced to the herd, the herd chases him off, because he has no rank and is nothing. To join the herd he has to be allowed to come into their space and must do so nicely or else he is chased off again. With roundpenning, you're mimicking that dynamic. Horse is chased away from the herd (you are the herd) and is sent running in the roundpen. Many will keep the pressure on until the horse shows submissive signs (reaching down, licking/chewing). At this point, pressure is released, horse is allowed to stop. Some people encourage the horse to turn in, some don't. I personally like the "yes ma'am" head bob (horse drops his head and raises it like he's saying yes ma'am!). If he's polite, I will allow him to come into my space and join me (the join up).

It also includes taking concepts such as the horse who moves his feet is the lower ranked horse. Alpha horse stands their ground or even pushes the other horse out of the way. Ever see one horse chase another horse from a pile of food? The horse that got run off submitted to the one that came by. Also a principle in the example above.

I'm sure other people will jump in with their own descriptions :)
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    10-08-2013, 01:22 PM
  #3
Super Moderator
My guess is that in all your training of horses, you already do "natural horsemanship", in it's purest form. It has been molded so much that it has kind of gotten away from the roots. The origins of the current trend are connected to Ray Hunt and Bill and Tom Dorrance, who worked as cowboys for years and allong the way discovered there were ways to get a hrose's cooperation in his own training that did not involved sheer force. The got the horse "ready" with ground work, then went on to back him more or less like you do. It's this kind of getting the horse ready, and searching out his mental state and maybe helping him get more "with" you, mentally, that is the basis of natural horsemanship as it should be. IMO.
     
    10-08-2013, 04:18 PM
  #4
Started
A good example of the difference between SOME old time cowboys & the NHers (although Buck dislikes the term NH!) is the difference in "breaking" & training philosophies between Buck Brannaman's father & Buck: Force & intimidation & no concern for the horse's fear, vs feel, working WITH the horse's nature as a prey animal, (a herd of hierarchy, not equals, etc), & recognizing that the horse needs love, not just a dictator. I don't think it'd be hard to find Buck's story & some pictures of the "breaking" his dad did.

You can find free videos of Pat Parelli on parellitube, as well. He studied under Tom Dorrance, asked for Tom's help with his stallion, Casper. Some say that Pat didn't "get" Tom's true horsemanship, like, e.g., Buck did. I leave that argument to your discretion.

It pretty much went like this: the foundation of NH is the vaqueros of yesteryear, then the Dorrance brothers who continued in vaquero ways & as tiny said, were working ranchers, with Tom recognized as a genius with horses & Bill not far behind. The Dorrances went around helping people with their horses, free of charge, till they died. Some of those who got help became famous horsemen themselves: Ray Hunt, Buck, Pat.
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    10-08-2013, 04:38 PM
  #5
Green Broke
I tend to shy away from a lot of the "natural" terms for horses (natural horsemanship, natural horse keeping, natural trimming, etc.) because once you take a horse out of the wild, keep him in a fenced area, and ask him to accept being ridden by a human, you've left "natural" behind.

However, I do find that the basis of a lot of "natural horsemanship" is just "good horsemanship"- trying to meet the horse halfway by understanding how he interprets your actions, observing his reactions, and making adjustments accordingly. Making sure training and human interaction is a positive experience overall.

Aside from the people who "cowboy" horses with brute force, there are also the people who just ignore certain aspects of horse training. I've met at least one person who told me "Oh, I don't do that NH stuff" and the truth is she didn't really do any horsemanship "stuff." And her horses (at least the one I was looking at buying) were unsafe because of it- they don't respect space, can't be touched all over, etc. even though this particular horse was started under saddle and in dressage training!
     
    10-08-2013, 05:57 PM
  #6
Yearling
I've always considered 'Natural Horsemanship' a fancy way of saying 'I work with horses'. You've got your good, bad and ugly just like in the 'Traditional' way. Me and the Trainer I work under treat the horse like a horse and that to me is the 'natural horsemanship' part. I agree with others that it is working with the horse, but then again some old cowboys worked with their horses. We've had a couple of horses that couldn't get it through their heads that me and my boss have 'cowboyed' and they were none the worse for wear. Natural Horsemanship to me is about reading body language, realizing that this is a horse, learning how the individual thinks and reacts to you and situations and building a working relationship/trust (not anything like out of a novel, but more like a "I'm not going to hurt you" or "This is your job and your reward is a place to live"). A trainer can add all the groundwork or special activities they want in or leave those alone, so long as they can do the aforementioned things I consider them a good horseman.
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    10-09-2013, 09:04 AM
  #7
Foal
Alot of the "NH" trainers only do groundwork for a day or two...some have taken it to an enormous amount of groundwork/games to play...so, most NH trainers don't feel that more groundwork is the "key", but more of an establishment of the trainer as the leader, move the feet(Tom Dorrance preached continually about the "key" being to "control the hip, control the horse.."), get the respect and the attention from the horse; and then get on them and train them using a logical progression of tasks to create a willing, compliant, and athletic bridle horse.
     
    10-09-2013, 09:12 AM
  #8
Started
NH is a way of working and teaching horses and having fun with them with litle tools as possible. You try to communicate to the horse by naturally instead of using force.
So instead of getting your horse out of the pasture and putting the saddle on, lunging for a few minutes then getting up to go on a trail ride is not good and to me not considered natural horsemanship.
So instead of doing it that way, you get your horse out. Tie him up loose or in a grass area while you brush him as a sort of reward and relaxing moment so he looks more forward to seeing you because he knows he will get to eat the nice grass! Then you groundwork him until all his focus is on you, he is listening to you, and he respects you. Then you slowly put the saddle up, nicely and in a way he knows you and him are OK. Then you put the bit on nice and easy and before you get up to ride, you walk him around or do more groundwork to get him used to the saddle and adjust.

That is only one way of doing NH. IMO
     
    10-09-2013, 10:09 AM
  #9
Showing
I agree completely with verona. Traditional training takes the horse into consideration as much as any other type of training. NH didn't used to have a label, it was just considered common sense horse training back it the day, and used tools from different traditions. People like Buck Brannaman don't use the term NH because that's NOT what he does, since NH today is a very far cry from what it was originally intended to be.

There's also no way I'm going to dink around for hours 'introducing' an already trained horse to his tack. He has 20-23 hours a day to be a horse and relax, and I'm not going to waste time by coddling him when he doesn't need it. He already knows what his tack is for, and that it means he has a job to do. Putting it on him is enough to get him ready for work.
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    10-09-2013, 11:52 AM
  #10
Super Moderator
Quote:
Originally Posted by amberly    
NH is a way of working and teaching horses and having fun with them with litle tools as possible. You try to communicate to the horse by naturally instead of using force.
So instead of getting your horse out of the pasture and putting the saddle on, lunging for a few minutes then getting up to go on a trail ride is not good and to me not considered natural horsemanship.
So instead of doing it that way, you get your horse out. Tie him up loose or in a grass area while you brush him as a sort of reward and relaxing moment so he looks more forward to seeing you because he knows he will get to eat the nice grass! Then you groundwork him until all his focus is on you, he is listening to you, and he respects you. Then you slowly put the saddle up, nicely and in a way he knows you and him are OK. Then you put the bit on nice and easy and before you get up to ride, you walk him around or do more groundwork to get him used to the saddle and adjust.

That is only one way of doing NH. IMO

If your horse doesnt get to graze in his normal set up, then giving him some grazing time is cool, but you don't have to do that while brushing, infact, it's not so great 'cause he won't be paying attention to you at all and stuff can happen when your horse isn't paying attention to you. And many horses don't consider brushing any kind of reward. They allow me to do it because they must tolerate it. I'll be gentle, but they don't like it enough to come to me in the pasture for brushing.

A person might do some ground work, yeah. But, they might not. It depends. How does your horse feel today? I don't' mean happy or sad, but is he tense or worried about being seperated from the herd? Is he grumpy and blowing you off? Is he jumpy at every rustle of the wind? Is he lagging on the lead line?
The ground work before mounting an already trained horse would be meant to feel out where your horse is and whether he's in a good place to just saddle up and go on. If he isn't, then you might just do a few little things while leading him to the tack up area, and that might be all it takes to get his mind centered. That's ground work. Or if he's really bothered by something, you might chose to lunge him a tiny bit. You can do enough with just a 12 fool leadline (I was going to change that "fool" typo to "foot", but then I decided I kind of liked the "12 fool leadline". Might be a handy tool for groundwork!), on the halter, looking for your horse to follow the leadline and the cues from your body. Done.

And though you might be soft in putting a saddle on, you don't *****foot around with the tack. If the horse needs to sniff it, h m m m. ... must be a fairly green to tack horse. Otherwise, he shouldn't care one bit. If he does, and he's jumpy, then maybe you need to do groundwork but most of the time there should be no need. And same with the bridle. Those things are part of any kind of horsemanship.
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