So What Is Natural Horsemanship (NH)?
Although the cartoon can be amusing, my understanding of Natural Horsemanship (NH) and my relationship with the horses I am fortunate enough to spend time with, evolve each year. This is because we are continuously gaining insights from the herd itself and implementing an ever-changing approach that adapts as we learn more about these magnificent animals. Each horse is unique, just as we are, and requires an individualized approach that suits their needs. For me, NH goes beyond a mere "method" of training horses. It involves "being" with horses and utilizing a compassionate, empathetic approach that is most effective for that particular horse.
When it comes to being with horses, every aspect counts towards their well-being. This includes their living environment, diet, communication tools, and our interactions with them. All of these areas need to work together to ensure that horses are truly content in domesticity.
For me, Natural Horsemanship (NH) is not just about one approach. Even if you are the best trainer in the world, keeping your horse alone in a stable every day will still result in a lonely and unhappy animal. Therefore, it is the combination of all aspects of horsemanship that creates a happy horse. NH is about looking at the whole picture of being with horses and finding ways to create harmony for them, which ultimately leads to their happiness.
Opinions on Natural Horsemanship (NH) are varied, with both positive and negative views. NH aims to train horses using more natural language and communication methods that mimic their behaviour. While this approach can be helpful, developing a language that the horse and trainer can understand rather than solely focusing on the horse's perspective is possible.
Violence towards animals is unacceptable, but unfortunately, some trainers have misinterpreted NH and used harsh handling techniques. This has caused controversy and misunderstanding around the term NH. As someone who loves horses, prioritizing the horse's safety and confidence in training is essential. Establishing a connection with the horse on the ground before riding is crucial to build a bond.
Horses are intelligent animals and do not appreciate being micromanaged. Giving them some freedom to make decisions and even mistakes is crucial, as they have big brains and can contribute to the training process. Mutual trust and respect are vital in building a kind relationship with the horse.
Creating a natural environment for the horse to live in with other horses is also essential for our equine's emotional and mental well-being. Their behaviour and body language can quickly identify a truly happy horse. It's crucial to recognize that prioritizing the horse's needs can establish a strong relationship that benefits both the horse and rider.