Updated: Apr 17
Is it really natural??
Nope! Especially since way to many are still using debunked horse behavior ideas to base their training methods on!
For all that I think natural horsemanship wanted to be, a horse first relationship without stress, it has been warped and transformed to the point that it is almost back to traditional dominance training methods.
I have studied under various natural horsemanship trainers and watched some of the most well known training on their farms for the past couple of years.
AND of course they care and love their horses deeply...
BUT some of their methods are forcing the horse into only one option...
TO JUST GIVE IN!
All the horse is trying to do is get away from the pressure! And if they cannot physically leave they will submit or shut down out of fear from the force! The result will be a horse that is uncomfortable with certain tasks and broken trust.
This is something I did not truly realize was happening when I was in the natural horsemanship realm until my horses told me.
One of my mares started...
turning her head away from when she was in front of me
on circles she would also keep her head away and try not to make eye contact
AND her demeanor was NOT enthusiastic at all!
She was telling me with her body language she wanted to get away from me and the techniques I was using. It was way too much force and she was physically in pain!
The natural horsemanship trainers told me to keep going with their techniques or they told me to not let her look away.
Some just ignored it.
If I mentioned pain or physical issues they just shrugged.
I met many horses over the past few years who have gone through natural horsemanship training that were either pushed beyond their limits or their physical pain was ignored.
One horse that still stands in my mind today is a horse who whenever you put the saddle on, would immediately show signs of distress. When you would try to ride the horse, after a few minutes it would try to lay down and roll with you on. After understanding the natural horsemanship techniques that were used on it, who trained it and how much pressure was put on the horse to do certain tasks it became clear that this horse had been pushed beyond their limits way too many times. This horse had to be start all over with positive reinforcement, counter conditioning and with a major focus on rebuilding the relationship.
Now yes there are some brilliant techniques in natural horsemanship that do not use force.
But there are still some that are forceful and that do not give the horse options, and...
FORCE IS NEVER THE ANSWER!
I have met some natural horsemanship trainers who are trying their best to turn it around and truly focus on positive reinforcement and use current horse behavior data.
But they are hitting walls because the natural horsemanship realm has some pretty big names that take up as much space as they can/want.
What are your thoughts? Write below in the comments your thoughts!