Stereotypes about NH and how to overcome them
First of all, I would really appreciate to avoid any discipline or horsemanship practice bashing in this thread. Thank you.
Now to the topic. I live in a country where NH is relatively new. The majority of our horse world do either of these three disciplines - showjumping, dressage and recently driving has come into play, too. There are only a couple of NH barns and a handful of people who practice NH openly, and I'm among them, residing in one of these few barns - this exact one also practices natural horsekeeping, which is also unpopular around here as for now. Some people try doing it, but are bashed and laughed at by their more traditional barn mates, and some seclude themselves from the rest of the equestrian world, residing in very private barns and not even speaking about their practices.
When NH was introduced here, the few who did it went in a full battle mode, claiming that all the traditional practices are evil and harmful for the horse, thus making not the best impression and not proving their loud claims of being something like horse whisperers with reasonable proof.
Right now, a small group of people and myself are working on integration of NH practices in our equestrian world - we write and translate articles about horse psychology and such, once a year we may participate with horsemanship demonstrations in larger shows, a couple of more experienced people offer training, etc. Nothing aggressive and pushy, just being what we are and aiming to share our experience in a positive way. However, most of those equestrians, who practice strictly "traditional" ways, are always fast to bash on us and ridiculing our attempts. We try not to get defensive and not involve in their provocations, and sometimes the stereotypes that are thrown at our direction are truly confusing and funny.
Here's some of them and maybe you'll want to share any that you have heard. :-)
* The horses actually don't trust them and are just beaten into submission when nobody is watching.
* They do NH just because they are afraid to ride.
* They are just a bunch of lovey-dovey individuals who treat their horses like puppies and dream of the Black Stallion Bond.
* They don't look and dress posh enough to be of any interest to the general equestrian world.
* No reputable trainer would ever try any NH methods.
* Their horses are so plain and boring looking (not clipped, with natural mane and tail, unshod, calmer than horses that are stalled for too long, and our particular also are mostly bay/brown and not of fancy breeds), and certainly bored to death with the 7 games.
And so on. It gets tiresome from time to time, to keep to the positive attitude, to explain, but it is really worth it when somebody finds their time to listen and to actually change something in their relationships with horses. So... I guess the question is - what do you do (if needed) to keep calm and carry on, and what would you do to endure the social pressure if you had chosen the path of a public horseperson who aims to share experience? I don't want to hide, but I don't want to be attacked either. :)
Back in the day when Ray Hunt first came on the scene, he was pretty controversial. As the story goes, a lot of people were threatened by him because he could do things that were so far above what they could understand or hope to duplicate or debunk. I imagine that there was a fair amount of social pressure involved in that. He just kept doing it though, and eventually his ideas gained wider acceptance. Maybe not universal acceptance, but universal acceptance isn't required. Not everyone has to like what you're doing. ;]
i hate the idea that people who do NH with their horse dont show or cant show because they just play around at home. I started my mare using NH methods (CA) and continue to use those ideas in my everyday horse interactions. my horse has been very successful at shows, and i pull her mane, and ride her with a bit, and i wear a helmet ! she also does not get ridden bareback (she doesnt like it) and has never been ridden western, only english.
Don't act crazy or harass people about being 'cruel' who prefer different training methods. You respect my training methods, and I'll respect yours. You call me 'cruel', 'uncivilized' or a 'gunsel', and I'm going to think you're a moronic crackpot and dismiss anything else you have to say.
The problem I have with the NH label is that too many people think they've reinvented the wheel. Those ideas aren't just hundreds, but thousands of years old, and anyone who uses true traditional training has already incorporated the basic ideas into their regimen.
where did that come from ?
Of course, Speed Racer. That comes only natural to us as a community here, apart from few individuals - not only we respect other training methods, but also train with a "traditional" dressage trainer (who likes to learn about our methods in return), sometimes participate in shows and generally dislike the "NH" and "traditional" categories, believing more in common sense horsemanship. That's why it is sometimes confusing to be called a nutjob, as people mainly act basing on old stereotypes.
My horse gets ridden in various tack, is being trained to accept a bit as well as a rope halter, a mechanical hackamore, a cordeo and being completely tackless, we plan to participate in our first shows next season (at last!), and I love learning from anyone who demonstrates good horse sense, but mostly - from horses. I just sometimes don't understand, why do people want to differ so much and to hide in closed circles, bashing others, when they could be learning from each other. I guess it's a part of human nature.
Common sense training should be familiar to anyone who understands the basic concepts of dealing with horses.
If people would approach each other with respect and the ability to share ideas without demeaning each other or their training methods, I suspect everyone would come away with something new in their training kits.
The good thing? I do believe some of them help. My husband is a novice and he sometimes asks questions here. He sometimes watches some Clinton Anderson on TV. He can watch something, see it applied and see the result. Of course he knows that an hour program is not all inclusive of what went on but he got an idea.
If you could change the attitude that these are super cool new ways of dealing with horses you'd go along way to help.
Well, we try to do it just by showing our pratices with actions, not words - for example, being able to ask a horse to lie down in a huge, new arena, among thousands of strangers, loud music, other horses, etc. It still gets ridiculed a lot, though. But Ian is very right - you can't be liked by everyone, so we can just stick to being what we are and remaining positive. I really believe that we can learn so much from each other, and that's why we're so eager just to share our experience with those who'd like to see it, but it would be so much easier if people would tend to think less in stereotypes and be open to drop the negativity.
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