Natural horsemanship is a philosophy of horse training that utilizes a horse’s natural instincts

Natural Horsemanship is a philosophy of horse training that utilizes a horse’s natural instincts. Techniques are varied; however, all have one thing in common: pressure and release as a training mechanism.

Natural Instincts
In the wild, horses are “prey” animals—low on the food chain. Their behavior consists of responding to stimuli by predators, fellow horses in the herd, and natural conditions in order to survive. These stimuli can also be considered a “pressure” to react. In domestic horse training, the trainer applies “pressure” to the horse to generate a specific reaction. Once the horse reacts appropriately, the trainer releases the pressure. The horse learns by conditioning how to respond when given different cues.

Body Language
A large part of natural horsemanship involves using body language. In the wild, horses communicate with each other through body language. Horses position their head, tails, ears, eyes and almost every part of their body to communicate with others in the herd. Natural horsemanship involves using body language to give the horse “cues” or “pressure” to act in a particular way.

The Difference between Pressure and Force
Natural horsemanship techniques do not utilize force. Force includes attempts to make a horse do things against natural instincts. Horses experiencing actions they do not understand will run in the opposite direction. “Cues” or “Pressure” are communicated to the horse via methods they understand and can respond to without running in the opposite direction. Trust is essential to training with natural horsemanship techniques. Part of earning trust involves speaking the same language. By interacting with the horse, and using body language it understands, the horse will feel comfortable with the trainer and will be able to learn a variety of behaviors.

Why Practice Natural Horsemanship?
The ultimate goal of owning and training a horse is pleasure and enjoyment. Natural horsemanship techniques promote greater enjoyment in a variety of ways. Horses trained with these methods are more relaxed. They trust their riders/trainers, and thus will go the extra mile in competition, or on the trail. Riders and trainers can feel more comfortable around their horses, because they understand and interpret their horse’s behavior more easily. While sometimes unpredictable, behavior of horses trained with natural horsemanship techniques is far more predictable than horses trained without such techniques.

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