Natural Horsemanship - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 65 Old 08-22-2020, 04:39 AM Thread Starter
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Natural Horsemanship

Hi everyone, I was wondering if anyone on here knows about natural horsemanship, maybe practices it with their own horse?
Who is your favorite natural horseman/ horsewomen, who've you maybe seen on youtube or at clinics?

I am just looking for good people to learn from because I am very interested in the communication of the horse.

Thanks for the answers!
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post #2 of 65 Old 08-22-2020, 08:26 AM
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“Natural Horsemanship” became a popular phrase during the latter part of the twentieth century, particularly in the United States. Robert M. Miller, D.V.M. and Rick Lamb did a good job of researching its origins and presented their findings in the book “The Revolution in Horsemanship and What it Means to Mankind”.

The basic idea of natural horsemanship was to develop communication with the horse in ways easily and “naturally” grasped by the horse rather than making the horse comply with the desires of the human through use of force.

While the term may have been new, the concepts themselves have been used by horse trainers throughout the centuries. The earliest extant book on horsemanship, “The Art of Horsemanship” written by a Greek general named Xenophon around 400 BC presents many concepts which might fall under the umbrella of natural horsemanship. People throughout the world have used a wide variety of methods when interacting with horses. Some were outright cruel. Others were extremely considerate of horses. Most probably fell – and still fall – somewhere between the extremes.

Trainers trying to make a living often presented their methods as novel and gave them new names. If the concept became popular, others would use the same name to promote their businesses whether their methods were the same or not. This can lead to great confusion as to what a term actually represents.

Rather than depending on labels, we should look at both the results of training methods and how these results were obtained. Spectacular displays of horsemanship may be obtained by various methods. We should go beyond casual observation if we truly care about a horse’s welfare. Are the horse’s movements stiff and mechanical or soft and fluid? Does the horse appear to “enjoy” what it is doing?
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post #3 of 65 Old 08-22-2020, 05:21 PM
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You may find that many serious horsemen and women have a negative reaction to the term. It has been used as a marketing name for a specific training technique for some years now. Mostly but not only by the Parellis, who seem to have a deservedly bad reputation. At least I have read and heard all kinds of stories that reflect poorly upon them and their methods. Many novices get hooked on the methods and the specialized equipment, which promise a kind of guaranteed bond of communication with your horse if you follow the guidelines correctly.

Unfortunately, the only guarantee is that you will shell out a lot of money. There are lots of Natural Horsemanship devotees who have created unrideable monsters because they limited their technique to what was on the video and wouldn't learn from the people around them who could have helped them. I think that might be part of the package -- belief that only NH has wisdom and everyone else is wrongheaded or even cruel.

The reality is, the only solid way to learn about handling horses is pretty much the way it has been done for thousands of years -- find good mentors, put in the hours, make the mistakes, add to your tool box, learn from everyone, ride ride ride. Keep following your instincts but don't close yourself off either.

Hang out with different kinds of trainers and see what does and doesn't feel right to you. Remember that as a novice you are only able to see partially -- but sometimes novices see things with fresh eyes that those embedded in a discipline can no longer see.

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post #4 of 65 Old 08-22-2020, 06:00 PM
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As usual what @Avna said best, especially paragraph three.

That miserable term did not exist when my grandfather was around but kindness, being fair minded and “treat that horse the way YOU want to be treated or sit on the porch for the rest of the summer”, sure did exist.

My grandfather was around, well ahead of the Brannamans and Hunts of the horse world. I respect them but granddad could have given them all one or two tips on good and fair horsemanship.

I never saw him raise a hand in anger to a horse - he would just grab the halter, look them dead in the eye and tell them to “listen up”. Somehow that was always enough, even for the stallion. He had a way of conveying that he meant business without taking the skin off someone.

As I stated on AC’s hoof thread, granddad was the Pegasus Wings Under My feet, I wish I would have been smart enough to tell him, before he passed when I was in my 20’s —- 50-some years ago.
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post #5 of 65 Old 08-22-2020, 06:03 PM
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Agree with the above posts 1000% and there is, imo just about as much cruelty & force involved in some so lables 'natural horsemanship' as there is with traditional or otherwise. But that said, I reckon Warwick Schiller is one to look up.

Also learning the principles of behavioural training & so how to effectively use positive reinforcement(rewards) in training is invaluable, no matter what specifics you choose to use.
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post #6 of 65 Old 08-22-2020, 06:03 PM
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Good information here already. I think the person you need to look into is Warwick Schiller, to teach you what you're interested in. For the most part, the other "celebrity" horse trainers aren't worth trying to learn much good from, in my honest opinion. WS's youtube channel has a lot of free, very valuable information and teaching on it. Best place to start, I think.
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post #7 of 65 Old 08-22-2020, 07:35 PM
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This from Avna deserves repeating and repeating again.....

"The reality is, the only solid way to learn about handling horses is pretty much the way it has been done for thousands of years -- find good mentors, put in the hours, make the mistakes, add to your tool box, learn from everyone, ride ride ride. Keep following your instincts but don't close yourself off either."
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post #8 of 65 Old 08-22-2020, 07:48 PM
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"Natural horsemanship" is such a vague term that it can mean almost anything. FWIW my favorite horse author is Mark Rashid; I think he could be considered a natural horseman. However, he's not about step-by-step instruction, an amazing method that works on every horse, or tools that you have to buy. He just tells you stories about what he did and what happened afterwards, and if you learn something great, and if not that's OK too because at least it was a good story. There are layers upon layers of wisdom and compassion in his stories.
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post #9 of 65 Old 08-22-2020, 07:51 PM
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^Yes, forgot about Mark Rashid - he was one I also really liked years ago.
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post #10 of 65 Old 08-22-2020, 08:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ACinATX View Post
"Natural horsemanship" is such a vague term that it can mean almost anything. FWIW my favorite horse author is Mark Rashid; I think he could be considered a natural horseman. However, he's not about step-by-step instruction, an amazing method that works on every horse, or tools that you have to buy. He just tells you stories about what he did and what happened afterwards, and if you learn something great, and if not that's OK too because at least it was a good story. There are layers upon layers of wisdom and compassion in his stories.
Absolutely. That style is what I like about Warwick Schiller too. No magic methods, step-by-steps, heavily marketed yet useless tools. Just simply gaining an understanding of how horses work...
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