Natural Horsemanship – What does it really mean? Part 1

Do you practice Natural Horsemanship?Natiural Horsemanship

I’ve been thinking lately about the word Natural. And being a horse person I have  naturally been thinking about Natural Horsemanship and just exactly what that means. I know what it means to me, but what is the standard, broader meaning?

I hear the words “Natural Horsemanship” used a lot in my Alternative Animal business and also in my Natural Hoofcare practice. I hear about Chris Cox, Pat Parelli, Clinton Anderson just to name a few. Seems everyone has their favorite guru. I looked up Natural Horsemanship and here’s what I found:

Natural Horsemanship is the philosophy of working with horses by appealing to their instincts and herd instincts. It involves communication techniques derived from wild horse observation in order to build a partnership that closely resembles the relationships that exist between horses.[1]

And while I think that is definitely one definition, quite frankly, I think it is narrow.  Here’s a video I ran across that I think encompasses more of how I approach Natural Horsemanship. If you are not a horse person please watch the video anyway, I promise you will open yourself up to what is possible with all animals.

I am proud to say that I do not use bits or metal shoes on my horses. And while I do ride with a saddle, I take great care to make sure that the saddle fits my horses properly so as not to inflict any pain. I have been riding this way or many years. Much to the amazement and dismay of many people that I ride with. I hear things like “Oh you must have a gentle horse” or “Well you can do that because you ride a quarter horse”. Uh well really?? Of course I have a gentle horse, all 4 of the horses that I ride are gentle because I am gentle and respectful with them. I see riding as a partnership. A communion of 2 beings one in a Human suit and one in a Horse suit. We work together. Sometimes they make decisions and sometimes I do. It’s a joy and a pleasure. I do not inflict pain. So my horses enjoy the time we spend together. And it matters not what breed! I have heard many success stories from people who ride other types of horses, and who are successfully riding without metal and enjoying a relationship that they never knew was possible.

Is it easier? Yes and no. It takes more time to develop a relationship of trust and respect but the benefits far outweigh the time commitment in my book. Why do I have horses if I don’t want to spend time with them? I have no doubt that my horses enjoy the time we spend together. And there is nothing better than riding and feeling as ONE. Not even having to think, but being so in sink that my Horse intuits my desires and responds accordingly. Words can not begin describe what that is like.

Bits, spurs and other so called “training devices” have been developed to speed up the process. To “break” horses quickly so they can be sold for money. Time=Money. So the quicker you can get things done, the more money you can make, and the more ribbons you can win. Are devices used to inflict pain to achieve a desired result really Natural Horsemanship?

For me the answer is no! There is a better way. I will share more of my thoughts on Natural Horsemanship and what that means to me in future blog posts.

I prefer to label it as Alternative Horsemanship. I see it as a Holistic approach to riding and caring for horses.

Thanks for reading and stay tuned.

To your pets!

Roxanna Whittington


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