What is “natural horsemanship”? Is it the newest fad in the horse world? Is it some voodoo magic that can only be performed by a chosen few? Or, is it so called “horse whispering” as portrayed by Hollywood?
So, which did you choose? Actually, it’s none of the above. Natural horsemanship, in the most simple terms, is the act of giving your horse complete freedom to do whatever they choose and then giving them a consequence for every action. The consequence can be positive or negative, depending on the action, but there must always be a consequence. Believe it or not you’re already doing this in your everyday interactions with your horse. You may not have realized it but your horse has known it all along. The two consequences that I believe are the most affective are; one: make your horse move and work in response to an undesired action, or two: simply do nothing and leave them alone for a minute when they give you a desired action. The reason this works is because horses are “naturally” lazy, uh huh there’s that word “natural” again. This means that all your horse really wants is to be left alone, turned out, and to eat. All you have to do is have them understand that if they do what you ask when you ask then that’s exactly what they will get to do.
The opposite of this is “micromanaging”, which is what almost every average horse owner does. Micromanaging does not work with horses, or any animal for that matter. Actually, its usually doesn’t work with people either. Micromanaging is what creates everything that you may feel is wrong with your horse. “My horse won’t stand still, won’t stop, bucks, rares, pushes me around, goes too fast, goes too slow, etc.”, all of these are caused by micromanaging your horse.
Have you ever gone to load your horse in the trailer and they resisted? So you figured “I’ll just pull harder and then they will load”, right? I’m guessing that’s not what happened. I’ll guess that the harder you pulled on your horse, the harder the horse pulled back. This is a prime example of trying to micromanage your horse, and it obviously didn’t work in that situation did it?
What if I said you could have a conversation with your horse and convince them that the best thing for them at the moment is to load into the trailer. You would think I’m crazy right? But, that is exactly what you have to do to get across to your horse, “have a conversation”, not with words but with body language. A conversation allowing the horse freedom to do what they choose but holding them responsible for their actions through consequences. That is “natural horsemanship”!
If you’re having problems with your horse, you don’t have to go out and buy a new horse. You don’t have to send your horse to the trainer for six months. You simply need to change the way to interact with your horse.