Natural Horsemanship Has Become an Oxymoron


Natural Horsemanship is not natural.  Or horsemanship.

The true definition of Natural Horsemanship has always been:
– the philosophy of working with horses by appealing to their instincts and herd mentality.

Today, there is a whole new definition.

Natural Horsemanship
1. A fantastic label to attach to your training method to secure high profits, a large following, and unlimited branding opportunities.
2. A group or method to follow that feeds your insecurities, while giving you false security through gimmicks and hype.
3. An excuse to play games with your horse instead of riding because of your inexperience, inadequacy, and fear of failure.
4. Ignorance of true horse care, horsemanship, and horse behavior.
5. A trendy systems to follow instead of working with a horse’s true instincts and mentality.

Horses are herd animals; in a herd there is a “boss”, the boss is not playing games with the rest of the herd.

So, with that out of the way, let me first congratulate all the natural horsemanship groups, methods, and personalities out there who have struck it rich by feeding these ignorant, fear driven horse owners by telling them exactly what they want to hear. Hats off to the genius marketing and those catering to the insecure woman in the horse world, you know who you are.

Above all, when I work with a horse, I always try to communicate effectively by using what I know is instinctual for them and easy for them to learn from. With that being said, I do not play games with my horses. I do not have an orange stick that I run around with, I do not have a ball (though one horse is a big fan of the jolly ball), and most importantly, I do not beat my horses.

If one of my horses were to bite me, I would smack them. If one of my horses tried to drag me while walking them, I would put a chain over their nose and use whatever force is necessary to correct unsafe, unruly, disrespectful behavior. If one of my horses were to be scared of something (legitimate), I would encourage them to be brave by being soft, but also not allow them to over-react by being firm. All of the above examples are pieces of true natural horsemanship.

Horses are herd animals; in a herd there is a “boss”, the boss is not playing games with the rest of the herd. The boss is setting guidelines, boundaries, and rules. If one of the herd oversteps these boundaries, disobeys a rule, or doesn’t follow a guideline, that particular herd member is punished. Herd punishment comes in the form of chases (ears pinned of course), bitings, kickings, or otherwise physical reprimand. True natural horsemanship creates a relationship with you and your horse that mimics a herd relationship with you being the “boss” and your horse being one of the herd.

‘Natural Horsemanship’ is a marketing gimmick. True Natural Horsemanship doesn’t involve games, balls, or orange sticks.

They may test you, and depending on your horse, that may be once ever, or 10 times a day. It’s okay; you are not abusing your horse if you reprimand them for already set rules, guidelines, or boundaries. Now, if there are new rules, guidelines, or boundaries, you must first teach your horse to understand them before you reprimand them for not following. It’s very simple, and there are no books, equipment, kits, videos, or other marketing propaganda to spend your money on.

Natural horsemanship is not anything besides common sense through respecting your horse while commanding respect from them. Your horse will like you more if you have rules that you expect them to follow with both positive and negative reinforcements. Horses like order and clear expectations; this is natural horsemanship.

If you are afraid of your horse, find someone to help you understand horses. Don’t fall for the trendy gimmicks that will only help you play games with your horse. Learn about horses; learn about how they communicate with each other. This is practically free. Watch a heard of horses outside for a few days. You will learn who the boss is and who is the low man on the totem pole. From observation and analysis of herd behavior, you can develop a relationship with your horse and be the “boss” without buying an orange stick.

Learning about how horses operate naturally isn’t a straightforward formula. Each horse is unique, every horse behaves differently, and not every horse reacts to situations the same. But, having a basic understanding of how an average herd of horses interacts is the first step to real natural horsemanship.

Fearing horses isn’t a bad thing. They are big, but you must understand that a horse knows if you fear them, another step to real natural horsemanship. An orange stick, a big ball, or watching a million videos is NOT going to help you gain confidence with your horse or be a natural horseman. You need help from experienced people and if you can’t find an experienced person as a mentor (non natural horsemanship propaganda group), then spend as much time with as many different horses as you can to gain a true understanding of horses and how to effectively handle them and work with them.

It’s the no gimmick, old school natural horsemanship.