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

Facebooktwitter
Comments are closed.