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Understanding Natural Horsemanship

Sep 16, 2008
When people talk about natural horsemanship, they often discuss the efforts of specific trainers and methods. However, the basic theories of natural horsemanship have been around for many years, and have been a part of quality trainers' programs long before the term became popular.

One of the most important parts of natural horsemanship is communicating with the horse. Because horses cannot use words, they communicate primarily through body language. This means that every movement they make can communicate a message to other horses, and to their handlers. It also means that we can mimic those communications, bringing across our message to the horses in language that they can easily understand.

Let's start with the basics. Horses are herd animals. Within the herd there are many roles. The stallion is there to procreate and to protect the herd in times of danger. The lead mare is there to direct the herd and run the politics within the herd structure. The second in command is there to keep the other mares off the lead mare's back and to follow through with the directions of the lead mare. Mares without foals become "aunties" for youngsters who wander and get into trouble. Each horse has its own unique place in the herd, which can change according to the current herd dynamics.

To communicate with your horse, you need to establish yourself within its herd. Many horses are dominant in nature, and will quickly place you low in the herd rankings, pushing you around and challenging your authority. This quickly leads to trouble where handlers are overhorsed and become afraid of their mounts. Other horses are less dominant, and are happy to be led by others.

A good handler establishes him or herself as the lead mare. As lead mare, the horses will follow your directions without hesitation. They accept you as their leader, and believe that you are there to protect them.

Natural horsemanship teaches handlers to become the lead mare. It teaches how to communicate with your horse through body language and cues so that it understands you as it would another horse in its herd. This is also the foundation of most quality traditional training methods.

If you choose to try natural horsemanship, consider that no one method is the "one true" method. All horses are different, and many will react differently to different situations. Learn as much as you can from each trainer's methods, and put together something that will work best for your horse and your needs.

Some well-known horse trainers that are considered to be practitioners of natural horsemanship in the late twentieth century include: Tom and Bill Dorrance, Ray Hunt, John Lyons, Clinton Anderson, Buck Brannaman, Monty Roberts, and Pat Parelli. Many of the above mentioned trainers have also established themselves as successful brands and offer certification programs, where for a certain fee you can become a certified trainer and proudly wear that title.

Natural horsemanship is a great foundation to a training program, but it should not be exclusive.
About the Author
Lydia K Kelly is a writer for HorseClicks, classifieds of horses for sale Utah, horses for sale Vermont, horses for sale Virginia and other states. Lydia is also a featured author at www.ArticleKing.com
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