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CharliGirl 07-06-2010 11:10 PM

Teaching An Older Horse Natural Horsemanship
I know the principals are the same no matter the age of the horse, but is it practical to teach an older horse natural techniques?

Kubie has been trained using conventional methods for his 27 years. He leads well, is usually responsive when I ride him (except to leg aids), and usually respects my space. He will only move if I cluck to him no matter how soft or hard I push to get him to move, and he tends to crowd me when I walk through the pasture (he was given lots of treats in his previous home). He is not as sensitive and responsive to my commands as Scotch is. Is this because Kubie is older, or we don't have a good enough relationship yet...?

Kubie doesn't have any big behavioral issues, but he doesn't feel "connected" to me in the way that my other horses are, especially Scotch. I've been riding Kubie more to develop my riding skills--he is a safe and sane mount. I just wish we had more of a understanding of each other.

My father fears I would be "ruining a perfectly good horse" by trying to teach him more "natural" ways of communication. That I should leave well enough alone. Maybe I should, and concentrate my NH stuff with Scotch?

Opinions? Advice? Anything else?

ridergirl23 07-06-2010 11:19 PM

In real natural horsemanship your not teaching the horse anything new, they KNOW natural horsemanship, they are born with it, they use it everyday to communicate with other horses. Its like someone who speaks spanish, saying they are going to teach an english speaking person, to speak english. ;)

Natural horsemanship is the person 'speaking' horse body langauge to the horse. The big names have just twisted it into lots of tricks and different training.

:) hope i kinda helped... Haha it kinda went into a rant about natural horsemanship trainers....... lol. But if the training mixes u your horse, your not training it right. You can never have a Too trained hrose :)

White Foot 07-07-2010 06:35 AM

I would say go with it. He's 27 years old, so even if you could ruin a horse with NH (you can't) how much can you ruin him? It's always a great thing to get a deeper connection with a horse. Sometimes you can't. My first horse, RIP, I loved to death but we just never had a deep level of connection. I wish now that I worked harder at achieving one.

FlitterBug 07-07-2010 09:08 AM

I agree with Ridergirl, he already knows NH, he's a horse.

To answer your other questions, horses are a result of everything in their life. They are not like computers that have special buttons to do special things, you don't install it and its there forever. Unless this horse was owned by someone as the same touch, feel, responsiveness, and cues as you, then you can expect him to respond off your cues just as easily as a horse that you've had for a while. He may have been dulled down by needless squeezing on his sides, which would be why he would respond to a vocal cue that was consistant with what he was taught in the past. Its very easy to train him to respond to leg by using consistancy with your commands.

As far as connections go with horses, this is how I see it. I communicate with people regularly and talk to plenty of people every day. There are only a select few that I have a connection with, such as my husband, family members, and close friends, and that is fine with me. I see so many horses every day that it is the same with them, I don't expect sparks and fireworks with everyone, but I do expect communication.

Remember that your guy is 27 now. Some basic NH exercises would be perfectly fine for him, but keep in mind that his body is probably not what it once was. Excessive circling, extensive lateral work, constant disengagement, and jumping obstacles would not be in his best interest physically and this type of work should be kept at a minimum.

I personally hate riding my beginner shooling horse. He is so simple and doesn't have any fancy buttons like my personal gelding that I've had since I was a teenager. However, my gelding has trouble walking in a straight line with beginners on his back that are sending mixed signals. My dull, simple, schooling horse is always their favorite as he moves mindlessly around the ring allowing them to figure things out without taking ever shift of weight as a cue. I don't dare change that and as they are capable of moving up the horsey ladder, they learn more advanced things. I understand that you got this guy to get you more confident undersaddle. Start listening to what he can teach you, and don't worry so much about what you want to teach him.

The language of the horse isn't something that you learn from books or listening to people, its something that you learn from listening to horses. I took 4 years of Spanish in school and still wouldn't trust myself in a foreign country. My husband never took spanish in school, but has many spanish speaking people working for him. Guess which one of us can carry on a conversation? Him. He lives in the middle of it and had to do learn it to get by.

Horses are the same way, you can learn some stuff from books or what people tell you. But if you truly want to learn that language, listen to the horse and let it become essential for your everyday life with your horses. When you do it long enough, you never have to "do" NH, its your life because you are constantly communicating with your horses.

5cuetrain 07-07-2010 06:06 PM

Depends on what your talking about.

If you intend on re training him with different cues and such I would vote no.

If you simply want to establish a method of communicating with him then learn it yourself--speak it fluently and then try it. He already knows.

CharliGirl 07-07-2010 06:58 PM

Thank you for all of the information everyone--it has helped me so much. I think the natural horsemanship clinicians I have been watching recently have warped my certain exercises or tools are the only way you can communicate naturally. Like you all stated: Kubie already knows this language! It is myself who needs to learn to communicate better.

I do not plan on doing anything strenuous with him, I just wanted a better relationship. I suppose that I already am doing NH stuff with him all the time, without even realizing it. Today when I brought the wheelbarrow with his saddle in it, Kubie came up and stood pretty still while being tacked up for a ride. Maybe we are beginning to understand each other better than I thought.

Spirithorse 07-07-2010 08:18 PM

If you want that wonderful connection with him, then try a more natural approach that really delves into horse psychology. I suggest Parelli myself.

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