Appeal of NH and being scared of horses?
This is a genuine question- do NH methods appeal more to owners who are a bit scared of being hurt with horses or who have had a bad experience with a horse in the past?
I ask this because three friends who've had bad experiences with horses recently have turned to NH methods and are raving about the groundwork giving them the confidence to get back into actually riding their horses.
They believe that the NH groundwork helps them develop a relationship of trust and respect which makes them feel safer when they ride. Watching them ride they aren't doing much that's different from before (except they aren't pushing things like they used to and they are more strict about getting things right before moving on to harder stuff).
It stuck me that the NH methods are systematic and methodical and that helps with their nerves as they don't get on unless the horse is calm and quiet on the ground.
Just wondering if this has been other people's experience too?
What's an NH?
Being a professional pilot doing "pre-ride checks" before getting on a potentially lethal animal just makes sense to me. What doesn't make sense is folks getting on a horse that they have not checked to be physically, mentally and emotionally fit at this moment before trusting their life to them.
It just seems to me to be a more professional way to act around potentially dangerous entities, be they horses or planes !
I probably do natural horsemanship, the guy who taught me most learned from Parelli back in the 80s, he used to go to his place in the US, I guess it didn’t cost an arm and a leg to do it back then. And though I tended to avoid “horsey people” like the plague for years, and still do to a large degree, I am beginning to get the idea that most people who do NH are a bit odd though other than the guy who taught me I haven’t had much contact with others.
My horse riding came from a background of learning to ride as a little kid and doing so while working cattle and the kind of horse riding was pretty rough. Basically, yank the reins to go left or right and back to stop and spur the horse meant go. Training them was to ride them, ground work was little more than roping them, jerking them around a bit to learn to face you, bagging them out (sacking out), hobble and collar rope them, drive them in driving reins then ride them, and ride the buck out of them if they bucked, that was it; and maybe tie them to a post for a day.
When my friend first showed me how to teach an unbroken horse to walk up to walk up to him (when I was maybe 12 to 14 years old, can’t remember; must have been about 12 now I think of it) I thought it was pretty impressive and started paying attention to what he was saying. And though he learned it all from Parelli and taught me, what I hear and see (on forums and YT at least) of a lot of the Parelli people is pretty different to what I was taught, and to the way I interoperate much of what I have read in Parelli books.
Now that I am doing research at PhD level on things to do with culture and society, social structure and the way these things effect people I have kind of thought critically about why many people deal with horses, and one day hope to find funding to do research on the anthropology and history of horsemanship. But this has lead me to think about the way many people seem to handle horses and it’s my theory that:
Most people these days 1) never have to earn a living on a horse, and never had to, their horse is a toy, or something to enjoy, to get away from work etc. 2) most of the people dealing with horses these days are from middle class urban backgrounds, and often quite affluent. 3) Most people who come from this kind of background have no substantial experience with livestock and tend to see horses in a similar way they would their household pets. Now obviously these are generalisations but from what I have observed, valid ones; the whole horse scene in the city I live in is basically like this, over paid, self important, public servants and their little snott children
What I think all of this means, and how it relates to NH is that many people with this kind of background, and associated attitudes to horses, tend to have what one can call, very un-technically, as a lovey dovey idea about horses, they kind of see them as a giant My Little Pony. And I think all of what could be considered the gentle side of NH, that is to say only half of the picture as I was taught at least, appeals to these types of people. They don’t like the other side, that you have to get a horse’s respect and keep it type of stuff. And additionally, since they don’t have a job to get done with their horses, they have the luxury of being able to keep it as a pet; the roof over their head doesn’t depend on their ability to get the horse to do its job. And this is where I think all of this “groom your horse to bond with it” or “give it treats and it will love you” and “my horse loves me so much” bullsh#$ comes from; and why it seems that many of these people have horses that walk all over them, sometimes literally.
As for what seems to be excessive ground work, you could be right, in fact I think when these people have a horse and try to “gain its trust” or create a “spiritual bond” with it, they are really just teaching their horse that it can do whatever the hell it wants because these people get it in their head that things necessary to gain a horses respect are mean or even abuse, and they haven’t paid attention to everything people like Parelli have to say; they pick the nice friendly fluffy stuff and ignore the stuff that is about getting respect and making a horse toe the line. They think if they just love their horse more and groom it more, or whatever, it will come to love them. So it gets pushy and they think they have to love it more, get a bit scared of it and don’t want to ride it.
I think I'm a horse person who would be classified as "a bit scared". Whether this would make me more interested in NH methods, I cannot say. Interesting thought!
In addition, I can't say whether I'd be doing different things if I hadn't heard about NH. Groundwork and getting horse to listen is and was important to me with or without knowledge of NH methods. NH as an approach just makes sense to me because horses are not people, nor are people horses.
From the people I know, most NH influenced people have started with problem horses. Having exhausted all their 'traditional' knowledge, they have turned into NH and have it work for them and their horses.
..Now that I know that NH Isn't n/h.. Or New Horse..
I would say, that I wouldn't see a 70 year old man "Rednecking" a horse, but doing "Natural" work with it, because it makes the horse more subject to be calm. A calm horse is much easier to work with than a scared/nervous horse is.
Now, do I think ground work helps in the saddle?.. A little, but just cause you taught your horse to sit like a dog, It's not gonna have any effect when it comes to bucking you off.. You will bond with your horse, and gain eachother's trust on the groung, but in the saddle, you're like a completely different person. It's not the same thing at all, they can't see you, or your carrot stick, lol.. There are what I would consider "natural " ways to be on their back, and teach them as well.. there are 2 ways to do things.. the hard way, or the easy way.. can you manipulate your horse, and make them do what you want, by getting in your horse's head, or are you gonna be a redneck about it? Lol.
I don't mean you literally.. just "people" in general..lol.
From my experience (4 horses), I'd say about 50% of what you achieve on the ground will be there under saddle. Unless someone likes risking broken bones for fun, I can't understand why they wouldn't do SOME groundwork. Don't know if that is NH or not.
I'd answer a big yes: PNH is very valuable for the middle-aged re-riders & the unconfident, for the systematic, start-at-the-start, emphasis-on-safety reasons mentioned already. The entire Level 1's subtitle description is "Safety", Level 2's is "Confidence & Fun".
I'm grateful to PNH for telling students that being scared is simply one's brain trying to keep one safe from the damage that horses can do, i.e., there's NO SHAME in it, in fact they say, "You SHOULD be scared! (until you gain the skills to handle the horse.) The way I was brought up (the olden days, lol), we were expected to keep a stiff upper lip, which is a terribly wrong demand to make!
From what I've seen, yes, the commercialized clinicians like Parelli and Anderson tend to be geared more toward people who are either scared of their horses or just don't know anything about horses.
Unfortunately, those are the exact same people who would benefit most from hands-on training and help with their horse because the scared/ignorant are the most likely to interpret/implement what they see on a DVD wrong and make everything worse.
I’d disagree with some opinions about the value of groundwork with a horse, in that it isn’t SO important when you are on the horses back. Firstly; the groundwork in the Parelli system, if done right, usually has more than just the obvious results and I have found that, with a little bit of modification, it sets a horse up superbly for a hackamore, while at the same time, again, if done right is about teaching a horse respect.
For example: I have changed the way I do the lateral lunging with a horse to mimic the way I handle the reins on the horse’s back with a hackamore; the difference is slight but has an effect. But then I don’t see the ground work, and then the work on the back, as two separate things, rather I see one as a continuation of the other. So while being on the horse’s back may well be different to being on the ground when I get on their back for the first time they already have the basics of what I am going to be doing with the reins. The first ride lasts a few minutes and is about them getting used to me getting on and off them and being able to hold my weight. The next one is about that plus them getting the idea of carrying a person. As they walk around the yard, which I let them do as they will at first, I start asking things of them through the reins as they would do them anyway. So if they walk to the corner of the yard and need to turn left or run into the rails, I ask them to turn left in the same manner I would lounge them left on the ground. They catch on pretty quick usually. They catch on that what I was doing on the ground is essentially what I do on their back.
In addition to that aspect of it the ground work teaches a horse to do many other things the average cow horse has to be able to do. Probably the best instance of this I ever experienced was while working on the last station I worked on before I gave that life up. Three of us worked on the place which was about 35,000 acres, the manager, me and another ringer. The other guy was from the old school Australian bush style of horse riding and constantly would tell me that all the stuff I did was crap. He would see me jump my horse up and down from the loading ramp on a lounge line, or have it running in and out of a tipped over hay feeder and tell me it was all a waste of time. He couldn’t, or didn’t want to, see the relation of that to the essentials of what a workhorse has to do on a daily basis, like loading on and off a cattle truck just to get to where you might be mustering cattle, it could take all day to walk out there so you usually truck them there. This guy’s horses ALWAYS had trouble getting on and off trucks and trailers. One day he was trying to load 4 horses onto a trailer and threw a tantrum at me for just standing there laughing at him and told me to come and help him. I pointed out that I just have to point at the door and tell my horses to get on the trailer and they do it, and that I could have all those horses doing the same in about half an hour each, but then he thought it was all bulls@# so he could go screw himself.
There’s much more to groundwork and riding than just playing with you horse, and it has a direct relation to how well the horse will work when you are putting it in a truck, getting it to stand to be shod, saddled, after I learned that my horses have been consistently much better than the ones I trained before that ( thankfully only one or maybe two had to suffer the old ozzy bush stile from me before I learned better).
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