The Four Nos and the Limitations of Natural Horsemanship
The fundamentals of natural horsemanship stem from the idea that a human should do his or her best to try to understand and emulate horse psychology in an attempt to better help the horse understand what the human is trying to teach. There is a place for natural horsemanship in horse training, and there are aspects of natural horsemanship that have helped trainers become kinder and more understanding of their mounts. Unfortunately, natural horsemanship has its limitations, including the commodification of the philosophy in an attempt to sell DVDs and other paraphernalia. Some trainers have also tried to make natural horsemanship into a “one-size-fits-all” approach to horse training. This assumes that all training issues stem from mental issues as opposed to acknowledging that there are other issues that may prevent the horse from responding in what humans may deem an appropriate manner.
Issues with Natural Horsemanship:
- There underlying philosophy that there is a “quick fix” to training.
- Anyone can do it.
- All training issues are mental issues.
- Acting/thinking like a horse will get the horse to understand what we are trying to teach the horse.
The truth is that there is no quick fix to some training, especially those horses who have mental or emotional issues.
Not everyone has the training or the natural inclination to train their horse. Although people can and should support the training that the horse has, actually training a horse can be difficult at best and dangerous at worst.
The horse is not always refusing to do something because he is scared or uncertain.
It is commendable to understand the horse mentality and look at the situation from the horse’s point-of-view. That being said, we are not horses, and while we can do our best to mimic some physical behavior, we don’t move like horses, either.
This is not to say that natural horsemanship does not have a place in horse training- I support many concepts that underly the basics of natural horsemanship. After working with multiple horses, from various backgrounds, however, I have realized that natural horsemanship just does not have all of the answers.