Natural horsemanship is practiced by many. It appears under different names and there are many methods, techniques and training systems for it. But the common core is the use and understanding of horse instincts, behavior and language. All these methods have the same foundation: the horse has to accept the human as the herd leader, because it would obey and comply only with one, who stands higher in the hierarchy ladder – his leader. In Natural horsemanship practice the process of gaining leadership happens in a way, which a horse itself uses to assert its leadership position before another horse. The result of working with this method is the possibility to create a relationship based on trust, partnership and the willingness to cooperate.
In reality every contact and communication with the horse is part of training. Even if you don’t think you are training the horse, you are still teaching him how to behave with you. It is important to remember this, no matter what you do around the horse – whether you are just relaxing, enjoying time together, grooming or grazing the horse. And if the horse does not comply with you, your leadership position is already shattered and you have established yourself the beginning of a “500 kilo problem”.
That is why it is so important for you to work the relationship out in a way which is natural for the horse. When this relationship is not enforced through pain and fear, but instead is the result of the horse’s willingness built through purposeful understandable work, you can be certain that when a dangerous situation arises the horse will comply with you. If the horse is used to trusting you, you can expect him to do that again in dangerous situations – to rely on you, instead of rejecting all the mechanical methods of control which the humankind has invented.
There is no way to force the horse to do something, or not to, unless you convince the horse, that exactly in this moment it is beneficial for him – in other words, for the horse to choose to do something, or not. For horses “good” is that which brings safety and comfort – something that in a herd is ensured by the leader. That is the reason why the other horses follow the leader and take him into account. Some horse might want to graze, or be in a different spot at the moment, but if the leader commands otherwise, the horse obeys, since the decisions and actions of the leader aim the protection and safety of all the herd members. The leader reinforces his wishes in a resolute, and when necessary, even rough manner. If, for instance, someone enters his personal space without prior permission, the leader gives out a warning, saying this is wrong. If the warning does not produce the desirable reaction, the leader demonstrates aggression and if this does not produce an effect, it is followed by an attack.
The horse does not know any other type of relationships, except the ones practiced in a herd. That is why when communicating with a horse, we should always keep in mind that for him the two of you are a herd. And in this herd consisting of two, you have to be the leader. Then the horse would trust you and comply with you, because you give him the feeling of security and comfort. Then you’ll be able to require of him certain behavior and actions.
The manner in which you build and defend your leadership position should be the same as that of a leader in a herd. Let’s see the example from the above-given text to illustrate the point. If the horse enters your personal space, pushes you, and is ready to pass right through you, you have to resolutely and roughly make him comply with you. Of course we are not speaking of beating, maltreatment or any other form of cruelty over the animal. But when the horse shows lack of respect the human can very easily get hurt. And at this moment there is no place for weakness, indecisiveness, or a wrongly understood perception of love.
When working with a horse, there should be maximum ease, but at the same time enough firmness when necessary. Otherwise you risk creating yourself a horse in whose eyes he is the leader.
Of course the human can force the horse into submission using other methods as well. But without the elements of leadership, respect and trust the safety of the human is going to be in danger every time when the horse feels himself threatened (or even when he does not feel like doing something that you require of him), because then he would do what he finds necessary to take care of himself. Not because he is “mean”, “uncontrollable” or “wild”, but because you are not his leader and he neither has trust in you taking care of him, nor is he motivated to comply with your desires. And thus begins the conflict between horse and human.
To win the trust of a horse, as any rider would want, first of all we need to have his respect. Without respect there is no trust. Without leadership there is no respect.
That is why it is of uttermost importance to have an approach which convinces the horse to accept you as a leader, to comply with you and to trust you. Only thus can you be certain that he would not take things into his own hands and threaten your safety.
Such a method can be based only on something that a horse understands, that is natural to him. For a human this method is Natural horsemanship. Using this method he can gain pleasure, ease and safety in working with horses – no matter whether doing groundwork or riding. In Adgor we call it Practical Horsemanship, due to the practical application that the method offers, no matter what discipline the horse is used for.
That applies to all horses. No matter what breed they are, whether it is a mare, a gelding, or a stallion, if the horse is young or old. There is no difference whether the horse is used for jumping, racing, dressage, Western riding, endurance, agricultural work, tourist riding or nothing at all.
For that reason the horse related activities in Adgor riding stable are based upon Natural horsemanship methods. Anyone desiring to learn those methods, to apply them and to easily achieve desired actions from the horse, to ensure himself safety and pleasure when around horses, is welcome.