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I believe that what we now generally term 'natural horsemanship' began with the ideas of Tom and Bill Dorrance and Ray Hunt, who was the first one to travel around teaching it in clinics. Later came the currently-popular clinicians such as Pat Parelli, Clinton Anderson, Buck Brannaman, and others. Some trace their 'lineage' directly back to Tom Dorrance, others such as Clinton A. came from different backgrounds but all of these guys are generally under the umbrella of what we call 'natural horsemanship'.

The foundation of the entire idea is to train/work with/relate to horses in a way which works with the psychology of the animal and imitates certain aspects of their social structure and hierarchy, for example imitating the behaviors of 'lead' horses within a natural herd environment. My personal opinion is that there are good ideas within the various methods and that the clinicians themselves tend to be good horsemen. However, it is worth noting that much of what's put out for the public to consume is a lot of showmanship and salesmanship. The guys who are good at training horses make it look easy, and either omit or gloss over the lifetime of work and commitment it requires to actually learn to work with horses. Which makes sense, as the idea of slow, steady progress over a lifetime doesn't SELL very well.

As for which trainer to follow, I tend to think that if a person wants to choose just one then it should be the one whom they personally resonate with. Most of these guys are saying pretty much the same thing anyway, just in different ways. Myself, I study everyone. Giddyupflix.com rents DVDs by anyone you could think of and I avail myself of their services often. :p

I believe that if a person really wants to become a horseman (which I understand to be a lifetime commitment) then it's important to broaden ones horizons by continually studying, experimenting, making mistakes, learning, forgetting, remembering, going to bed thinking about it and getting up in the morning doing the same, and (hopefully) eventually reaching the point where it just comes naturally. I think it's interesting that after thousands of years of domestication we still haven't come to a universal agreement on the best way to relate to these animals. To me that just says that horsemanship is an art and as such subject to individual interpretation. That's kinda the cool thing about it, to me.

In conclusion, I think that NH is a pretty good idea but that it pays to think critically and remember that the guys who are selling DVDs/tack/methods may be horsemen but they're also salesmen. Nothing wrong with that, but it's something to consider.
 
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