Just What is Natural Horsemanship Anyway?
By Bob Burrelli, Trainer/Clinician
We ended our discussion in Part 1 about changing the horse from the inside first before we start to change the outside. You must influence the horse’s mind first and then hindquarters then his forequarters and head and neck.
It’s very important to allow the horse to invest in the training process which actually means we listen by watching what the horse has to say instead of doing all the talking ourselves. As natural horseman, we never compel learning: but we foster and encourage it. In the training process, you always set it up for the horse to figure it out and then give him the chance to work through it.
Doing it this way, you are not making or forcing the horse to learn, but you are giving the horse the ability by allowing him to learn.
Keep in mind when the horse makes mistakes, don’t think of it as something wrong, and just make it a natural and forgivable part of the training process. The reason is if you get too critical about mistakes, then the horse stops trying to work at figuring it out.
Don’t worry if the horse doesn’t get it right at first. He just doesn’t know. Be patient, don’t be in a hurry, and give him the time he needs.
I always stress shaping the horse’s behavior as a collaborative process, not a contest. It’s not about determining a winner and a loser, but about how to find a way to succeed together. Remember, you are working on building a trust and relationship partnership which will always be the best way for both of you.
A good trainer will always set aside price, ego, aggression, punishment and all other negative traits that block true kinship with the horse.
Now that we covered the first importance of natural horsemanship which is his mind/attitude-spirit of the horse. Natural horsemanship embodies the physical manifestation as well.
We call that groundwork which is the foundation for all disciplines. This groundwork is generally done in a round pen. As a trainer, I believe groundwork is critical to achieving the ultimate goal in the partnership process we concentrate on building, relaxation and trust, by drawing the horse to you and driving him always into equal ease. This is called getting the horse hooked on to you. Then, we concentrate on freeing up the feet, removing braces from the horse’s body, working on lateral flexibility and smooth upwards and downward transitions, and introducing the horse to be exposed to stimuli such as ropes, rope halters and flags. For the natural horseman equipment for groundwork is minimal. A rope halter with a 12’ rope lead, a lariat and flag are all that is needed, in the round pen.
In the next issue, we will continue Part 3 with the discussion of Natural Horsemanship.
Bob Burrelli, Trainer/Clinician
Dedicated to Excellence in Natural Horsemanship