Category: Natural Horsemanship

Discussions about Natural Horsemanship

What is Straightness Training?

What is Straightness Training?

The horse is not naturally built to carry weight. Therefore, if we want to sit on it as a rider, we need to prepare the horse to carry us properly. This is done through dressage, with straightness training as an essential part of it.

Natural Asymmetry

Every horse is naturally asymmetrical. Just like every human, every horse is left- or right handed, both in the front legs and the hind legs. Also, the horse is bent to the left or right in its body and it carries more weight on the front legs than on the hind legs. This causes an uneven distribution of the weight over the four legs. When the rider does not recognize and correct this imbalance, this can lead to problems. The goal of straightness training is to develop the horse symmetrically in body and limbs.

Straightness training consists of a series of gymnastic exercises for the horse in which it learns to stretch, to tense and to relax its muscles in balance. This makes the horse fit, supple, strong and muscular so it can carry the rider more easily.

Straightness training during dressage makes the horse symmetrical in body and limbs.  It also develops the horse’s balance and divides the weight equally over all four legs. By straightening the horse, it is enabled to carry the rider properly. Also, well thought through gymnastic exercises keep the horse fit as a riding horse until old age.

For which horse is it suitable?

All horses and ponies, untrained, experienced or even with a problematic background, can be schooled following the steps of straightness training.

The goal of the gymnastic education within straightness training is for the rider to reach a perfect harmony with his or her horse. Well thought-through gymnastic exercises make the horse able to perform as a riding horse until a very high age. Because of the logically structured exercises, horse and rider are trained according to his possibilities and talents, both physically and mentally, towards a level that is comfortable for both.

What are the benefits of straightness training for you and your horse?

  • You will learn to train within a logical system of well thought-through gymnastic exercises and you will develop yourself to become the personal fitness trainer of your horse.
  • You will be able to develop your horse from a horse with (riding) problems towards a soft, cooperative riding horse.
  • You will get more insight in how riding problems are created, and learn to fix and prevent these problems. Because of the clear structured system, you will always have a good basic work to fall back on and to help you find the solutions to whatever riding problems you might encounter.
  • With straightness training basics as physiotherapy, you can reduce and prevent back problems and strain injuries in your horse.
  • And from that you can take it another step forward: You can develop your horse’s talents to their maximum.
  • Your horse will develop physically: it will become more supple and easier to maneuver, it will become stronger and will reach more bending in its hindquarter/haunches, and will be easier and lighter to collect.
  • Your horse will develop mentally and emotionally: your horse will become stronger, more self-assured and will scare less easily. Your horse will become more loyal and affectionate towards you, and will show less resistance and stress.
  • Your horse will develop spiritually: he will be the best horse he can be, he will feels his inner calm strength, his pride and unique, authentic self.
  • And of course also the rider will develop physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually to become the best rider and trainer s/he can be!

Copied from the StraightnessTraining.com Website

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What is Natural Horsemanship?

What is Natural Horsemanship?

Natural Horsemanship

A human approaches a semi-wild horse in a non-threatening stance

Natural Horsemanship is a collective term for horse training techniques which share principles of developing a rapport with horses, using methods derived from observation of the natural behavior of free horses and rejecting abusive training methods.

Natural horsemanship practitioners often describe their approach as being a radical departure from “traditional” techniques, which are often portrayed as being based in the use of unnecessary force. Users and practitioners relate benefits both in relation to horse behavior, and also to the idea of a true partnership. High-profile practitioners of natural horsemanship such as Pat Parelli and John Lyons provide their methods through educational books, television appearances, live shows and other media.

The idea of working in sympathy with a horse in order to obtain cooperation is not new, with documented instances as far back as the two part treatise On Horsemanship by Xenophon (c. 430 – 354 BCE), which amongst other points, emphasized operant conditioning and emphasized reassurance over punishment.[1] Later classical dressage practitioners such as Antoine de Pluvinel (1555–1620 CE) and François Robichon de La Guérinière (1688–1751) also emphasized gentle techniques.  However, gentle training methods have always had to compete with harsher methods, which often appear to obtain faster, but less predictable results. In particular, the cowboy tradition of the American west, where the economics of needing to “break” large numbers of feral horses in a short period of time led to the development of a number of harsh training methods that the natural horsemanship movement specifically has set out to replace.

The modern natural horsemanship movement, though not originally described as such, developed primarily in the United States Pacific Northwest and Rocky Mountain states, where the “buckaroo” or vaquero-style cowboy tradition was the strongest. Brothers Tom and Bill Dorrance were early modern practitioners, who had background in the buckaroo tradition. They had a particularly strong influence on Ray Hunt, who in turn became a significant influence upon Buck Brannaman and many others such as Pat Parelli, who was also influenced by Dorrance and Hunt but also came from the rodeo world.

In Europe a number of variations are practiced that developed independently of the American model, influenced by Spanish or Hungarian horsemanship traditions as well as the teachings of Classical dressage. Some include work rooted in the use of human body language to communicate effectively to the horse.

Adapted from Wikipedia

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Walk Through Horses, Make Them Move Like The Alpha Does!

Walk Through Horses, Make Them Move Like The Alpha Does!

Today I was cleaning the grass turnout and my lesson-horse, Trixie, was really interested in joining me!  It was kind of interesting because as I was returning to the main arena, Trixie just stood there in front of me!  She’s the herd-alpha, by the way!  I asked her to move and she just stood there – whew, a little dominance move on her part!  So, I asked her to move again by touching her shoulders and neck area with my savvy string (Zone 2 in Parelli-language).  Then, she yielded her forehand, stepped sideways with her front feet, backed up, and moved over for me!   Yes, Trixie needed to move out of my way.   It’s much more savvy to have your horse move out of your way than for you to walk around your horse!

I learned from a natural horseman, years back, that when you want to go somewhere and the horse is standing in the way, it’s imperative to cause them to yield to you, meaning move, no matter how small it seems.  Horses Always move out of the way for the alpha!  If I want to go to the water tank, I just go there, and if there’s a horse in the way, it needs to just move over.  Too many times we walk around our horses and give them the right-of-way!  Oops!   Important!  This is another way to build leadership and healthy authority with our horses!

Stay cool!

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