Natural Horsemanship: Enjoyed By Horse Lovers Of All Ages

Natural Horsemanship can be learned by horse lovers of all ages.

There is no magical age at which to begin. If you’re just beginning your journey with horses, or you’ve reached your 70th year working with horses, you can learn how to effectively, and kindly work with the horse using these methods. A solid foundation in the natural behavior of horses is necessary to begin. For example, it may be important to know how the hierarchy of the herd operates. Who is the “head” of the herd? When one underling steps out of bounds, who is the dominant horse, how does this horse react? Where does your horse fit into the heard? How does your own horse behave in pasture with the other horses? Is it the dominant one, or is it subservient? Having this knowledge will help establish the framework for your training with your own horses.

Horses have a definite communication program, yet they don’t speak in audible “words” … they communicate with body language, voice, and a deep perception of the environment surrounding them. It is known that horses communicate using their highly developed senses; their hearing sense is extremely sensitive, their smelling is far superior to ours. Their eyesight is, on one hand, poor compared to humans, but on the other hand, the placement of the eyes on the head allow them to see far more than humans can. Their skin is so sensitive that the mere lighting of a fly on their croup can cause the whole body to shake it off. Their nostrils, and taste glands are so connected with one another that a stallion, when curling his lip up in the flehman, can actually taste, and savor the mare’s scent. All these senses work together to form a unique communication system. It only makes sense that, if we humans are to communicate effectively with our horses, that we learn as much as possible about the ways horses “speak” with one another. Then we can begin to communicate effectively without undue force, with our horses.

The Natural Horsemen listed above, and quoted in the following pages, all use body language to relay what they want to the horse. They have learned when and how to use their eyes, placement of their body and parts of their body, tone of voice or lack of voice, and what to use as tools to enhance effective communications. It makes sense that if we would like to harmoniously compliment our horses’ movements that we learn how to “talk” with our horses. More importantly, we learn to listen to them. One can force, and restrain an animal into doing something we wish it to do, but is it doing what we want because of fear, or because of friendliness? Horses naturally fear humans. We are predators. Horses are prey animals. We must teach them that they need not to be afraid of us. This is done through effective communicating with the horse within their ‘natural’ realm. In order to work at the highest degree with a horse, that horse must trust us without reservations. Only then can the horse be free to offer its highest compliments to us, as horsemen, with the giving of itself without fear.

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