How Natural Is Natural Horsemanship?
I always thought the term natural horsemanship was strange because everything we do with and to a horse is unnatural no matter how we try to dress it up and label it. I guess I am thankful for natural horsemanship techniques and how they have somewhat put to rest the archaic notion of "beating a horse into submission" physically. Horse psychology enthralls me. I guess natural horsemanship is trying to probe into the reasons why horses do things and then working with the horses natural instincts rather than against them. But even then asking the horse to do anything other than stand in a field and graze with it's buddies is pretty unnatural.
I guess if you wanted to be a natural horseman you would do the same. Stand around with your horse buddies. You would lose the idea all together of getting on the horses back, that's like a lion jumping on a water buffalo's back and saying giddy up. There would be no ropes, no halters, no means of controlling your herd mate other than your natural body language. Just you, your horse friends, and some flies.
I guess some would call me a nut because I often do just that. Sometimes I climb in the hay keeper and spend hours just watching them eat. Sometimes I sit under the apple tree and just quietly watch them do their horse thing. I am not a natural horsewoman, I am just a woman who enjoys her horses. I enjoy them being horses and appreciate the fact that tolerate all the crazy unnatural crap I put them through. I am not a horse, and my horse is not a human. I do not try to super impose my beliefs, feelings and desires on my horse. I do not selfishly spoil my horse so I can reap some temporary high from feeling the horse is showing me "affection". My horses respect me, they listen to me and I listen back to them. We hold conversations without words, conversations of intentions & will, where my horse always has the freedom to be just what she is, a horse.
I know this post will piss some people off, it is just my opinion, my observation if you will. Do you really think natural horsemanship is natural?
I agree with you completly. I think there is no part of horsemanship (natural or otherwise) that is actually natural.
I also like to observe my horses and am totally obsessed with what they are thinking. Its a human flaw. They are probably thinking about what crap grass this years crop provided and how good it felt to roll in the mud and whether Sally would like to go for a lil romp.
Horse training is horse training. Whether it is natural or unnatural. We all make the horse do something that is not directly in compliance with their bottom line. One could even say forcing them to eat grain and shoveling their poop is unnatural. In nature, they eat what they can and leave their poop as proof to other herds that they have been there.
Riding is basically imposing your will on an animal. Its not always about a power struggle..infact the best rides are on a horse who is honest and willing on his own.
We love them, we take care of them, in return we offer them a longer and easier life. I think its a fair trade!
While I really liked your post, herdbound, I have to disagree with "tolerate all the crazy unnatural crap I put them through". Many horses really enjoy the crazy unnatural crap. :wink: Like treats, blankets, petting, brushing, and even work (hard at times).
I love this post! And I agree with you herdbound :) Glad your not up on the ever growing fad :) Even tho I do prefer "NH" then any other method.
Thank you!! You are right, NH is supposed to be about understanding your horse and communicating in a way that they understand. All that hooplah with the swizzle sticks and majickal strings and silly games is just ridiculous marketing. Good horsemanship is good horsemanship regardless of what little nickname it has. I like to think that some of my horses enjoy my company. Do they love me? Questionable. Do they like me? Some of them do and I know some of them don't. The only constant is that I am the alpha mare and they will respect me. They are my friends, sure, but first and foremost, they are beasts of burden and my job. I will ride them with saddles and bits and they will obey, but I do try to do things with as little force as necessary.
Well, what's natural??? You might say most humans aren't natural. Maybe only "savages" are natural? Anyway, I see "natural" horses as what's called "wild" horses. And I don't actually think their lives are all that wonderful. I told a vet once, if I hadn't bought this young filly, she'd probably be out in the wild, pregnant. (She's a tiny, somewhat stunted little thing.) He said, "Running free and pregnant? Sounds like a great life!" Hmph. From a female point of view, maybe not.
Horsemanship is part of culture. It's something that's evolved between the species, and surely that was natural? We ate horses; we used horses; we fought wars with horses; now they are part of our sport, or recreation, or in many cases, they fill the need we have to get back in touch with-- nature!:wink: And I really believe most horses like the interaction.
kitten_Val I think you are right "tolerate" wasn't the best word choice. I don't know if you feel like this but sometimes I do...I look at my mare and she is so HUGE and it amazes me she so willingly submits and follows me. Maybe thats why I chose tolerate because I don't always feel "worthy"...does that make any sense???? I remember the first time my mare let me come in her stall and lay on her side while she was down. It was such a special moment...kinda like time just stood still...she didn't try to get to her feet, we just relaxed for some time -together...there was so much trust in those moments it was just wonderful...like an ahhhhhh haaaaa moment if you will. It felt very "natural" but it was unnatural too...like the lamb laying down with the lion...so to speak
Beling - A horse would rather be free running across a field pregnant as can be because that is what is natural. You ever seen a mare in heat...she craves getting prego if there is a stallion around...a horse would rather be free than in the confines of even the most elaborate barn. What humans desire and what horses desire are sooooooooooo different.. horses have been forced to coexist with man and to live within the confines of our man-made environments, and unfortunately if we didn't see them as a source of pleasure like we do, they would be a source of food. I am happy that horses are in my life, even though I know it is somewhat selfish. It is what it is now, there is no going back...I just am saying it is not as natural as it is sometimes made out to be.
I want to bring up argument MM brought while back when we were discussion some training issues...
Horses we own so domesticated, that while of course they have instincts from wild, their whole thinking is very different from wild horses. Because of the environment. If you throw the grown up horse into the wild I'm not all that positive it'll be able to survive (and stay healthy) for very long. Also even horses in pastures still very happy to see the feed buckets coming :wink: , and most of them prefer that to running in field free, grazing, etc.
Maybe we have changed them...I don't know if that is a good thing or a bad thing? I am happy to have them in my life now, but at what cost is it to the horse. Maybe I over think things too :) I just get so sick of hearing certain names that are linked to natural horsemanship...sometimes I feel it is cultish (thats probably not a word)...I don't know if maybe we started a "naked horsemanship" craze and marketed it right...maybe we could sell clinics where everyone comes in the nude so they can have a closer connection with thier horse....I think its more about marketing than having some substantial merit. I do agree with them that spending more time with your horse is productive...but come on I don't need to pay 400.00 to know that...thats just common sense.
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