View Full Version : Natural Horsemanhip- why the bad name?
8th Oct 2004, 03:01 PM
I've deliberately put this in the General section to get as wide an opinion as poss- so if you do NH or not, why do you think it is getting such a bad name? I have been on forums where people are hostile and downright rude about NH, and have heard some folks dismiss NH as 'the latest trendy nonsense' or 'a load of parelli b*ll*cks'
How do you see natural horsemanship (of any variety, lets leave the parelli merchandising empire to one side if we can) is it a passing fad? Or the way forward? Or just one solution of many to get half a ton of flight animal to do our bidding? I think, if you've read my posts you know which side of the fence I sit on ( albeit gingerly, fell off again!:D )
So, over to you............
8th Oct 2004, 03:24 PM
If we're talking about the general techniques of training and handling horses that NH folks are teaching, then it's the same method people in the southern Appalachians have been using since my great-great grandpa and uncles rode with the Confederate Cavalry. And probably before then - that's only as far back as I know about for sure. So no, I wouldn't call it a passing fad.:D
But I can think of some reasons why "NH" might be getting a bad name. I think its modern incarnation relies heavily on marketing techniques such as clinics and videos and special equipment. While there are good ideas in all those things, I can see how a person with less experience than the clinician might be disappointed when s/he doesn't acheive the same results s/he saw at the workshop. I can also see how a person relying only on what s/he sees on videos or at clinics might innocently misapply what s/he's been taught and make things even worse.
In short, there's just no substitute for working with an experienced trainer or instructor one-on-one over time.:)
8th Oct 2004, 03:37 PM
I thik it could be sort of turning into a fad. I mean recently alot of people having been buying treeless saddles and bitless bridles (I know not techniquly sp? NH but its close),me included, but I have looked into treeless saddles for a few years and my bitless was a bit of a chance I took, but it works. I think since the horse whisperer film came out, and the recent sea biscuit film where Nh is in it I think people have been trying it.
I work in a tack shop and had one lady come in and ask for a specific bit because she watched a programme on the tv and they said it was the kindest bit. She described it as a sweet iron bit with copper strips on. Like the new Monty Roberts bit.
8th Oct 2004, 04:41 PM
My general understanding of NH is that the horse and rider cooperate due to mutual trust and respect.
If the alternative is to force horses to do what we want out of fear of punishment, then I can't see how NH can be just a fad or considered to be a bad method of training horses.
8th Oct 2004, 05:11 PM
I blame most of it on ignorance. The solicitation of it is fairly new, but like Peace said, its been around for a very long time. The solicitation of the alternative has been around much longer and that is what people identify "horse training" with. You tell them they're wrong and automatically the defenses go up.
Read KarinUS' very recent post. Talk to any non-horsey person. See what they think horse training involves. We humans dont like to be told we're wrong ;)
8th Oct 2004, 05:11 PM
In my area NH gets a bad rap because people misinterpet it to mean . Let the horse do what it wants to.
As and example :
We have a farrier & a Vet that refuse to go to a particular barn in our area. The NH barn owners , who took a FEW clinics and altered what they were taught it to their way of thinking, and proceeded to insist that all boarders handle their horses according to their way of thinking , have created horses that have no manners. The farrier & the Vet have both been injuried by this , " Let the horsie do what it wants to " way of thinking.
At another barn :
I have seen a person open the stall door to try and get her 2 yr old out, when the mare refused , THE OWNER left the area, leaving the door open, so the mare could come out " When she is ready "
That is why I think it is getting a bad rap. People warp it into what it was never intended to be.
If they listen to any of the good NH teachers, there is alway an element of respect, and saftey.
Some folks just miss that point and are creating problems, for the rest of us. :rolleyes:
8th Oct 2004, 05:21 PM
Echo that. 'Traditional' horsemanship got a bad name through people who took it and abused it - think of all teh anti BHS feeling that exists and ask people why. They'll tell you it's because the BHS methods are cruel, don't listen to the horse, don't work with the horse, and so on. In fact, many of the 'traditional' methods have a lot of sense and kindness going in their favour. Nowhere in the BHS stages are you taught to use ever stronger bits to stop bolting, or to whip a horse that doesn't co-operate - and yet that's teh view so many people have.
Same with NH. Take a few well meaning but largely ignorant people chasing a horse in circles waiting for it to start following them and do their every bidding, or letting a horse walk all over them so it's not forced into anything it doesn't like, and NH gets the same bad name.
It's not a fad - it's just another set of communication keys that will be shot down in flames by some, abused by others, and used by many more to great effect.
8th Oct 2004, 07:09 PM
You do get some negative reactions, but I've personally found they're sometimes from people who have quite a mechanistic view of their horses and tend to view their behaviour and relate to them in human rather than equine terms.
A lot of things that aren't NH get lumped under that banner, if it isn't mainstream or traditional then it gets that tag. Forgive my french but a lot of crap gets spouted about being more 'natural' by using this or that or looking after your horse in certain ways, when natural it ain't, very little of what we do with horses is. It's a bit of a culty holier than thou thing sometimes:D I'm not particularly keen on the label anyway.
What NH also isn't is about letting the horse do what the hell it likes, I don't know where people get that impression from, as I've never seen it advocated, if anything NH is about establishing leadership and dominance in a non forceful and non violent way. I suppose it's because it's in contrast to the 'show it who's boss' by beating it approach?
I've said it before but there isn't that much different between good traditional horsemanship and a lot of 'NH' methods. For me it's about understanding what makes horses tick, and there have always been good horsepeople.
8th Oct 2004, 08:13 PM
I echo most of you on the board. I truly believe in the natural horsemanship way but I also believe that there is no right or wrong way of training a horse, its what works for you, as long as no cruelty is involved.
I have looked at many of the NH trainers but if you strip off the fancy layers down to the bare boards they are all basicaly telling you the same thing. You need to develop a partnership/relationship with your horse.
As for the people that slate NH, they have no business to do so. Horsemanship in its very basic form several 100 years ago was basicaly what we call NH today and all the modern riding techniques are developed from it. We are just revisiting our past and geting back to basics. A good thing, don't you think?
8th Oct 2004, 09:15 PM
I think that some dog owers also have some of the same training issues. Some people let their dogs jump up on people and generally be a nuisance to others instead of teaching it good manners. People can be too harsh with their dogs, too soft with them, be negligent and everything.
If everything we do with horses is unnatural, the same can be said for dogs when in the wild they live with a pack and no one tells them to keep off the furniture but we make them live in the house and they get to go out on a leash a couple of times a day.
I think people who use a little common sense in training their animals realize the capabilities and limitations of them and work with them accordingly.
I may have gotten way OT and started to ramble, sorry.
Anyway, cats, for one, are made to be spoiled.
8th Oct 2004, 09:48 PM
I can see what people are saying with regard to natural horsemanship. I practice what can be called 'natural horsemanship' on my Fell because he wont tolerate 'conventional' riding at the moment. If I wanna turn left, then I put more weight on my left buttock etc and leave his mouth alone. He wont tolerate any sort of pressure to do this or to do that at the moment. No way, could I in any shape or form, kick him to go forwards, a very very light squeeze suits him. Natural and tactful riding is what he needs at the moment. There are different types of natural horsemanship where various 'aids' are used. I dont have any of these, nor could I ever see myself being able to afford them. So, I'll just carry on using body position, weight etc until he tells me otherwise. It's interesting to see the different methods of riding/training people are using on their horses.
PS: I would also agree that cats are made to be spoilt!
8th Oct 2004, 10:31 PM
I felt I needed to jump in on this one.
I have listened and read all about the NH. It seems to me that we are frowning upon some of this because of several different reasons.
First, it seems that this issue is similar to the Bible, we all have read, learned or been told about it and what we choose to repeat or do with that information, then becomes fact. It is a theory and how you choose to preseve this information is up to you.
Good or Bad.
Secondly, it seems as those someone learns a new thing, or old but new to them, its gosspel and everyone should use it and listen to them. That offends some people, when they have a good relationship with their horse and then someone tells them they are doing somthing wrong, it should be this or that way.
Lastly, whether or not I agree or disagree with the ways of NH, I do beleive that at the minimum, it gives beginners a place to start that isnt atrusive, cruel or damaging to a horse. Although I do beleive that it can be taken to a level that is distructive.
I believe it is like anything else, moderation is the key, common sence mixed with good intentions has no lasting, perminate negitive result. But,,,,you MUST enter common sence in the mixture.
Thanks for listening.
9th Oct 2004, 11:36 AM
I think it is because people brissle at the term Natural Horsemanship. The inference is that if they aren't doing it then what they ARE doing is Unnatural Horsemanship. So they they then set to and defend what they are doing, trying to show it is right, hence NH must be a load of cobb***s if it is the opposite.
9th Oct 2004, 12:31 PM
Cheko, nothing at all wrong with the way you're riding your horse, with weight aids and light pressure, quite the opposite, but I can't help wondering why you describe it as NH or natural?
9th Oct 2004, 01:10 PM
I think the big positives are that it's all making some people think, and encouraging them to do far more groundwork with their horses rather than just expecting wonderful manners with no effort. Done properly it's very effective, but people think it's easy.
Having said that I don't like all the implication that if you don't do it, you're wrong. It's like if you don't have this type of bit/ saddle/ feed then you're not doing the best you can for your horse. I freely admit I look at NH techniques and then use them how I want with whatever equipment works. I don't fully embrace a single way of schooling and stick to it rigidly. And when I asked a well known NH trainer about a specific problem I was told that if I only 'played' with it, what did I expect - so it's all or nothing then.
The blinkered approach is bad on either side. No training technique will work for every horse and you have to be prepared to be flexible. Equally if what you're doing works, try other things anyway - they might work better and at least you'll learn something, whatever your horses reaction.
9th Oct 2004, 02:12 PM
I agree with Zingy, I dont beleive any way of training should be held as gosspal or the "only way" to do it. Not to mention, us humans have a tendency to interpet things we hear for our own benifit, and when repeated, leads to mass confustion. I feel we should stay open minded about new or approved ideas, however, if we do adopt a theory or idea, SUGGEST to others what seemed to work for you, but dont be so closed minded to think that it the ONLY way to do it correctly, if we followed these simple rules, I dont think NH people would be given such a hard time right now. It is hard to listen to someone that projects an idea to you and follows up with "and if you dont do it my/that way, its being done wrong and your not a good trianer/horseman. It projects a negative response almost instantly with most.
The bottom line is for most of us or horses are similar to our children, we try to do the best we can, and if we fail at a few things life goes on and most will end up with a nice horse and a good companion. We are ALL only human, we will make mistakes.
All have a great day,
9th Oct 2004, 07:42 PM
Yann, I read your posting in which you ask why I describe the way I ride Falcon as 'natural'. A lot of people now a days dont use the simple seat aid, they literally boot the horse on the left/right side and expect it to turn in the required direction, or practically yank its head off to change direction. Of course riding schools must take their share of the blame. Most of them have large classes and rather than take time to explain they just tell riders to use the left leg and pull with the rein to turn the horse. Nothing is mentioned about using the relevant buttock. Even if a horse has never been used to the buttock aid being used as the norm, it will turn in the direction it feels you weight has been shifted to. Sorry if this is a bit vague but I've got a rotten cold which is making me feel quite unwell.
10th Oct 2004, 07:16 AM
Fair point, there are lots of riding schools about like that unfortunately:( However weight and seat aids are part and parcel of correct and classical riding, as is not steering with the reins or pulling back on them, all of which my BHSAI instructor teaches me. Not picking an argument here I promise, just pointing out that things that are 'different' or 'alternative' aren't necessarily 'NH'.
10th Oct 2004, 08:40 AM
Sorry - this is going to be long - but you did ask! :-))
I think there are several reasons for the bad PR.
One is a very widespread misconception of what natural horsemanship is. To me, natural horsemanship means simply learning to understand the horse's view of the world, its natural behaviour, and its way of learning, and taking these into account when training them. It is not a set of exercises or a pack of equipment - it's a mind-set, an attitude.
Parelli is not definive of natural horsemanship - he is one practitioner of it who has come up with a few rules of thumb to help people get better results with their horses and has marketed it extremely well. The system is called "Parelli Natural Horsemanship" - it is one person's interpretation. Like any standard package, it has benefits and pitfalls. The main pitfall is that it is rather inflexible and doesn't really teach people to read different horses and adjust their own behaviour accordingly - it is a bit mechanical - "do this and that will happen"!
The methods I use are heavily based on the principles taught by Richard Thompson. Many parts are similar to Parelli, but we put more emphasis on WHY the horse behaves the way it does, and are more flexible in the way the exercises are done. These methods stem principally from from Buck Brannaman, Tom Dorrance, Bill Dorrance and Ray Hunt and are heavily geared to working with the horse's mind in ways that are logical to the individual horse.
Monty Roberts (who myself I would not put in the "natural" category, but is often included) has focussed on one detail of behaviour in the round pen - hook-on, or join-up as he calls it, and has made a show, several books and a lot of money out of it. To me, he is simply a showman and does not come into the natural category for several reasons, not least because of the equipment he uses and his 30 minute claim. The notion that one can set a clock on a horse's responses goes against every tennet of natural horsemanship as I understand it - but neverthless you keep hearing his name in connection with natural horsemanship - so right or wrong, people are making that association.
There are just 3 diverse examples - there are plenty more people out there carrying the natural horsemanship label who have many more diverse approaches - so its easy to see how the misunderstandings and misinterpretations arise.
Making it worse are the many and various practitioners with equally many and various levels of skill and understanding. There are certainly a fair number out to make a "quick buck" with gimmicky equipment and over priced courses with little content that will be of practical help to the horse owner afterwards.
There are also quite a few who are keen to show how clever they are, but not so keep to impart their knowledge to their students. I hear quite often "Fred Smith got my horse in the trailer after half and hour, but I still can't get it anywhere near it".
Personally, I would feel I had failed if a person who asked for my help didn't finish each time with at least a few things they could confidently use to improve their relationship with their horse. They've wasted their money if only I can get the horse's respect, pick up its feet, put it in the trailer or whatever - the crucial thing is that the owner/handler can do it. Better to take smaller steps and have them able to do it themselves than have a flashy display that's no help to the owner.
Looking at the history, no it's not new. It goes back even further than the earlier post suggested. The spanish conquistadors took their horses to America. Their horse carers and trainers integrated with the locals and became the "Vaqueros" or "Cowboys" using the horse training ideas that stemmed from the European baroque school. It is this Vaquero tradition that forms the basis of modern natural horsemanship. Being based in Vienna, I am lucky enough to have a few friends at the Spanish Riding School - and I think most people would be amazed at how close their training ideas are to what I understand as natural horsemanship!
Natural horsemanship is something every great horseman is doing - whether consciously or just instinctively. They won't be truly great unless they have that understanding of how the horse feels. To some, it is just so obvious they don't even mention it.
So why is "natural" different from "traditional"? Ironically, "traditional" is probably newer! Since the horse ceased to be a means of transport and an essential worker in the labour force and has become a pet and item of leisure, there has been pressure to get horses to perform better and better for people with less and less skill. Shortcuts started being taken - and gadgets used to make up for lack of rider skills and to try to overcome problems quickly for people without the skills or resources to re-train. Then the gadgets became standard and force became part of the culture. The emphasis became to MAKE the horse do it, rather than making the horse WANT to do it.
That brings us to another huge misconception. Natural horsemanship is not a magic wand, and it is not a quick fix or a short cut. When you get good at it, you can get spectacular results in a short time because you are working with the horse's mind - but to get good at it the person has to study, observe and practise hard. It's no easier than learning anything else - but is is fascinating and hugely rewarding. People are sometimes disappointed when they think they can take an unschooled pony to a clinic and come back 2 days later with an olympic dressage horse! :-))) - but seriously, a lot of people think it is a "quick fix" that will change the horse without them having to change anything in themselves. Not true.
I could go on - but will restrain myself! If you're interested in the approach I use, I've written a website and book about it - so please have a browse!
Is it the way of the future? I hope so and believe so. It was the way of the past, and I think it will come round again. The passing fad is the idea that there's a gadget to fix every problem! That goes along with miracle diets, learn a language in 24 hours, make a fortune in 14 days etc. etc. etc. It appeals to the lazy part of us - but at the end of the day, that's the approach that doesn't work!! :-)))
Am curious to see other opinions on this topic!
10th Oct 2004, 09:14 AM
I have never really looked that deeply into NH so this is just a generalized opinion rather than a knowledgeable one. It seems to me that with most things in life (not just horsey) anything natural, alternative or different from the was someone has been taught is generally met by most of the population with either complete disapproval or thought to be the only way that is right before they even know the ins and outs of it. Take things like feng shui, aromatherapy, natural remedies and even as far as beliefs such as witchcraft, buddhism, and whatever that religion that all the stars like Madonna do (I can't remember what it's called). A good portion of people will just see words like that and have a strong opinion without actually looking into things properly. Some people will even turn into whole hearted believers and followers without bothering to see if it really is for them because it has had great/fast results with someone else.
I think it is more about people's reactions and what they hear from other people more than the training methods itself. I mean lets face it humans in general are pretty easily convinced of things. And as previous posts said no one training method will work for everyone.
10th Oct 2004, 10:34 AM
Bravo Kate F....well put.
I come from a 'classical' type background, Iberian school and breed/train Lusitanos so all my friends have been gobsmacked that I have taken to doing Parelli. The Parelli lot are gobsmacked because I can already do most of what they are telling me to do (but I have to say they are teaching me an awfull lot)
The two, apparently extreme, ends of the spectrum just resonate so much that I can almost immediatly relate one end to the other for any given exercise/task.
Where Parelli scores highly for me is that he has developed a system and training package that is (as he puts it)...'so simple even adults can do it'. Yes it is a bit McDonalds, but that sure has its good points, and when you get into it and get talking to the experienced Instructors you get far more subtlety and neuance than they are able to put in the literature.
10th Oct 2004, 11:11 AM
Wow! What great posts! It is wonderful to read such erudite and informed opinions on this. IMHO NH is about asking questions rather than assuming we have the answer, speaking the horses own language where possible and persuasion rather than force. This does not mean that I let my horse do as he pleases (as some seem to think) but I do let him have an opinion!
Here's a really good example, from my own experience- my young horse was chewing and worrying at the bit like mad, it was v.annoying. YO at my previous yard (v.trad) recommended a flash strap, I went away read up and thought about it what was he trying to tell me? He was mildly bitted, all checked out. Then I read somewhere how a cavesson is pretty useless if you're not using a flash and some (esp young) horses can find them irritating. So I took the noseband off his bridle and voila! no more snatching at the bit, nice contact and finally some softening. You'd think people at my yard would congratulate me eh? But no I got accused of 'horse hippie nonsense' and one lady refused to hack out with me because she coudnt see how I could have control without a noseband!!!!!!
When I moved to my NH yard guess what? Not a noseband to be seen.
Thanks to all who gave their opinions on this thread- keep em coming!
10th Oct 2004, 01:04 PM
You have a good point with your post, and come across knowledgble of the subject. However, again I beleive the bottom line and only to prove a point here, we ALL can read your post, your web page, and many many others, and it still comes back to interpetation. How you preseve and execute what you learn is different then many many others, one can search the web, read books and speak to NH trainers and each time you will get a different answer, question and response.
And I do not isolate this opinion to just NH issues, this has been world wide when it comes to any issue, whether it be politics, relgion, horsemanship, dog training, child rearing, or motherhood or fotherhood and even morel issues, ect ect ect.
I beleive the bottom line is its each person's responsibility as a horse owner to give care, attention, respect and enjoyment to his or her horse, and in return you get a healthy, sound and loving friend, how you choose to do that is really up to you and there is no absolute right or wrong way of doing that.
The more someone trys to (excuse the expression) ram somthing down my throat, that I KNOW will not work for my horse, the more unlikely it is that I will listen to it and only makes me stay clear of any other idea that person, book, or website trys to tell me.
Again, this is only ONE opinion.
Have a great day :)
10th Oct 2004, 02:02 PM
I think you've said it in a nutshell! There are so many people with so many different ideas all under the "natural horsemanship" label, and each of them will work for some people, and none will work for everyone. This is bound to lead to some people having unsatisfactory experiences - and we all know that bad news travels further and wider than good news!
There are pros and cons to each approach, but the principles underlying most of them I believe are good, and as you say it's up to the individual to look around and decide what's best for them. What I do find unfortunate, however, is when one person has one bad experience, or as more commonly happens, sees one event with one person and completely misses the point, and then goes out to rubbish the whole of natural horsemanship per se.
I do hope I didn't come across as ramming anything down anyone's throat - I certainly didn't mean to! I am also against the "this is the one and only way" attitude which I find very offputting and counter productive!
10th Oct 2004, 03:01 PM
Embedded within Kate F.'s thirteenth paragraph of her first well-communicated and apposite commentary is the seed of the answer to your original query:...but to get good at it the person has to study, observe and practise hard. It's no easier than learning anything elseÖ
To get good requires personal change; and hard work. People being people, the majority are on "cruise control" from a comfort zone perspective, and really find change threatening, and do not necessarily have an experimental mindset; but, they also rarely appreciate the minority that are accelerating (affecting change), and that aren't afraid to change (and to experiment.)
I suspect the folks that you've encountered that denigrate natural horsemanship (rather than specific individual actions) may very well fall into the majority mindset.
10th Oct 2004, 04:04 PM
Hi KateF and Harry,
If more would have the open mind and common sence of you two, there would be a lot less "bad mouthing" the NH.
I for one am always open to new suggestions and love to read and learn different/new/old that I didnt know, ways of training or just enjoying my horse.
Kate, I certanly didnt mean to imply that YOU rammed anything down anyones throat, I simply was stating that I have ran into, and seems popular opinion, some NH that do, and people, including myself, takes offense to it right away. Please forgive me if my post seemed to imply that you did that.
If adopting an idea for an individgual meant instanly is was a absolutly correct idea for all, we sure wouldnt need a library any more! lol
Thanks again, this is fun :) I love to hear and particiapate in opinion forums!!!!!
Have a great day
11th Oct 2004, 12:21 PM
Thanks Wendy and Harry for your kind words!
No offence taken, Wendy - I just hoped my enthusiasm hadn't come across as one-sided! Obviously you read my comments as intended - lots of enthusiasm and interest tempered with realism and an open mind! :-))) One thing I have certainly learned in my years of NH is that you're never finished learning! There are new things, modifications and improvements to be made all the time!
Have a great day
11th Oct 2004, 12:57 PM
Monty Roberts (who myself I would not put in the "natural" category....
Could you elaborate on this? If we are talking communicating with the horse in a way it can understand, then surely it does come into the same category. The basic principle seems to be the use of pressure and release, and the groundwork exercises (in Perfect Manners) are very similar in many ways to those in the seven games.
What equipment are you referring to, the Dually Halter? Is it any different in its operation to the parelli halter for example, which is made of much thinner rope and acts at the poll as well?
11th Oct 2004, 03:00 PM
The Dually halter is a pressure halter, and completely different in its operation from the Parelli or similar hand-tied rope halters. A pressure halter closes on the head, and therefore exerts additional pressure that has to be released when the horse gives to it. The Parelli type does not close on the head, and does not necessarily operate on the poll - it depends on the direction of the pressure. The knots lie on the face shuch that a very light pressure - or "feel" would be a better word, gives a very clear direction whereever you want it. With the Parelli type, as soon as the horse yields in the slightest, the halter goes slack immediately. It also only exerts only as much pressure as the horse puts against it - clearly with a "pressure" halter by the very name, the emphasis is on the pressure, while with the Parelli type the emphasis is on the release.
However, the halter is not the only issue. In recent demos in Austria (and I assume in other places too) Monty Roberts has been using, among other questionable gadgets, a "buck stopper" - which is basically what is also sometimes called a "gum line". The idea is that if the horse puts its head down to buck, this device cuts into the mouth and the pain makes the horse not want to put his head down and it is therefore unable to buck. Hardly natural, in anyone's book, and does not begin to tackle WHY the horse is bucking - which I think most natural horsepeople would consider the starting point in solving any problem.
The horses he uses at his demos are carefully pre-selected to make sure they will produce the required results in the required time. That's OK - it's a show - but suggesting that any and every horse can be put against the clock is misleading and shows little real understanding of the horse's mind.
The disproportionate emphasis on hook on / join up gives a rather distorted view of how this phenomenon fits into the horse's world. It is the centrepiece of his methods and it is indeed an important thing - but is just one element and expresses just one aspect of the very complex and exact communication system that horses use. The fact that he has come up with another version of the 7 Games doesn't really convince me. One weakness in my opinion of the 7 games is that there is little explanation of what their sigificance is to the horse. It's mostly "do x and y will happen" and a bit thin on why y is important. Parelli has his own reasons for making the 7 games very simple, and as Janet says there is much more subtlety as you progress. I don't see that with Monty Roberts.
Finally, many years ago, when I was absolutely desperate with a horse of mine that was rearing to the point of being dangerous to everyone around her, I contacted his offices to ask for advice. After a brief discussion I was told my mare was "unsuitable" for this method because she is blind in one eye. This, I can assure you, is a load of rubbish. As I now know, a horse is a horse and has the instincts and behaviour of a horse - one eye or two! Mercifully, I found Richard Thompson who helped me solve this problem and the whole behaviour pattern surrounding it, and I can promise you, this horse hooks on perfectly well on both sides - the only difference is that she turns her head a little further around to see you when the blind eye is on the inside. As I mentioned before, I am not a "one and only" method person. At this time, I am sure that Parelli or other nh systems could and would have helped.
I am sure there are many people who have had a lot of success and pleasure with Monty Roberts system and approach, and it depends on how you define "natural" as to whether you consider him in this category or not. For me, as I mentioned before, NH is about getting inside the horse's mind and making every effort to understand its world as well as you can. I have consistently had the impression with Monty Roberts that he is more interested in selling books, gadgets, gimmicks and his own image than anything else. Going back to original question from Hackedoff - I think this can be one thing that can give NH a bad name.
As earlier posts have said, NH covers a huge and varied range of methods and approaches, so I guess it is then up to the individual to decide how they define "natural". For me, Monty Roberts is now falling outside "natural" - especially with gadgets like the buck-stopper - but if he's still within your definition, I may not agree with you but I certainly won't call you wrong! :-)))
All the best
11th Oct 2004, 03:26 PM
. For me, as I mentioned before, NH is about getting inside the horse's mind and making every effort to understand its world as well as you can.
for me, all training is about that. i'm not into NH, parelli, etc - but i do think and hope that i do this. the good instructors i've had from whatever 'school' - BHS, ABRS, german-trained, no qualifications at all but years of experience, etc etc, have all done this - the bad ones haven't.
i do get quite cross when people slag the BHS system off - it's definitely not about force. yes, it's fairly rigid in what's correct and what will fail you an exam - but you can be sure the BHS way will be safe. i think of the BHS exams as like your driving test - hands at ten to two, mirror every 6 seconds, etc. yes, you can take shortcuts but i think you need to know how to do things properly first to be sure you're safe and competent.
to go back to the original question - i think NH has a bad name in some circles because a lot of people do it badly. for example - i've never seen parelli done well, and i do think the 30 minute whatsit of monty roberts gave the impression that you had to chase your horse round a round pen for half an hour and all problems would be magically resolved!
i take bits and pieces from a lot of 'schools of thought' - i don't play the 7 games because having read a bit about them, i can do everything that i want to already. she'll move over, backwards, forwards, come to me, walk through things, walk over things, etc. they seem to be about getting respect, moving the horse when and where you want to, reading and reacting to body language and using it on your side etc - which i can do anyway.
i use joinup to catch my old git on occasion because he is an old git and has dominance issues! i don't use it apart from that because i think lungeing is useful and i don't want to confuse the matter with the horse thinking it's being sent away.
i break in the BHS way - lungeing, longreining first - because then the horse is a bit fitter, understands the concept of work, voice commands etc - all of which is useful. i also keep in mind that the horse may be sold in the future and i think it's important that it shouldn't be limited in the homes it might go to because of knowing only an 'alternative' training method.
for example - i rode a horse who had been trained that leg pressure in front of the girth meant back up. not knowing this, i put my leg forward to do my girth up and he shot off backwards! it was fine, the owner was there and told me why, but if he'd just been sold and new owner wasn't expecting it or forgot, it could have been a problem.
11th Oct 2004, 03:27 PM
Welcome indeed. I ditto your theory that you can never stop learning, trying or doing new things. Besides, some works, some may not, however, the real point is to get people out of the house and into the barn, yard, or stall to spend time with a great animal!
If that is the ONLY thing accomplished, well, that is good enough for me!
Thanks again. Have a wonderful day.
11th Oct 2004, 03:53 PM
OK - you're definitely IN my definition of "natural" - that's it exactly. It isn't halters, or sticks, or set exercises (though all of these are tools that can help people make the jump to a different way of thinking) it's about the horse's mind!
Interesting you mention the BHS. After getting my Richard Thompson trainer certificate, I wanted to put what I'd learned into the BHS context and see what happened. It wasn't practical to come to Britian to do the exams, so I enrolled on the Equi- Study distance learning programme and did Stages 1,2 and 3, and PTT. Of course, it was all theory - but it was the theory that interested me. In the test papers I put a lot of my NH theory into the answers - and from one tutor received nothing but enthusiasm and praise, while the other tutor generally agreed with what I put, but occasionally put in comments on this not being necessarily "correct" in terms of passing exams. I found this hugely encouraging. The BHS is like any large organisation - there are all sorts of opinions within it, and while there will be some stick-in-the-muds who want everything by the rulebook whether or not the rulebook has proved to be right or not, there are also a lot who are very open to new ideas or ways of approaching things.
I was most amused to see that there were still things from decades ago in the handbooks that obviously have just not been updated - like when you go for a hack, take money for the phone!! These days, whenever anyone leaves the yard on a horse the question is "have you got your mobile with you?"!!
Perhaps when they update the phone bit, they'll update some of the philosophy as well!
BTW round pen work does not have to be "sending away" - that's another Monty Roberts fable. Once the horse has hooked on, I use it more for liberty work - ie moving the horse around my personal space and responding to my energy - similar to lunging but just using body language and no equipment. This taps into the herd instinct of all horses trotting together, cantering together, making the transitions and change of direction together. It's wonderful for reinforcing the horse's attention and fascinating how small the cues can be that they pick up. It's also good for the concentration of the person as you can't just switch off and let the horse paddle round, as the horse responds to your energy and focus. You switch off - so does the horse! (I'm not saying you do this - but you do see a lot of horses trundling round mindlessly on the lunge while the person is clearly miles away too!)
Have a great day
11th Oct 2004, 08:18 PM
Hmmm, have to say that virtually all my contact with the 'Monty' school of thought has been via Kelly Marks books and articles, and one of their RA's who I've had work with my horse. I'd have no hesitation in saying that their approach is focused on working with the horse, seeing it from thier point of view and working without force or violence. Join up is presented as one of a number of tools available, not the be all and end all or a one stop shop solution to all ills. I like the non dogmatic attitude too, that everything is worth trying so long as it fits the ethos, which contrasts nicely with the bible bashing of PNH. As for hard sell, hard sell of what? A halter? A couple of books? There really isn't that much to sell is there? A drop in the ocean compared to what even level one with all the equipment will cost you.
As for Monty himself I don't know a lot, he does come across as a bit messianic, but he's American and OTT is their style. I shall know a bit more shortly as I'm going to see a demo at the weekend. I agree a gum line doesn't sound like a suitable piece of equipment at all, and I'd be most interested to know the whys and wherefores of that one.
BTW, the exercises (or foundation exercises) aren't a version of the 7 games, they're just basic yielding exercises, the likes of which you'll find on any NH website.
I think the halter issue is questionable to be honest, and I suspect it would be much easier for unskilled hands to do damage with a Parelli halter than a dually, especially when you see idiots tying up in them.
11th Oct 2004, 08:43 PM
I'm sure you're right - my main frame of reference is Monty Roberts, and I don't know that much about Kelly Marks other than a couple of her TV spots, in which I found she was missing some very important and very clear signals from the horses she was dealing with. However, maybe that was poor editing by people who didn't understand horses - who knows.
I'd be interested in what you think after seeing MR's show. Unless he's changed his act quite a lot, I think it is pretty hard sell on the books - "Isn't all this wonderful - buy the book to find out how it's done" type thing. I didn't see his last show in Austria, but friends who did said it was very heavy on show, very little informative content and lots of "buy my books".
To get a bit more precise, I'm not mad on the actual Parelli halter either - the rope is too thin, and that huge heavy clip on the rope is positively dangerous in some cases. The type I use are similar design, but made out of thicker, softer rope with the lead rope attached in a simple knot. These are perfectly safe in most situations - though I still like people to tie up to baler twine rather than direct to a fixed ring or rail whatever is on the horse's head. If it panics and runs back, I think it's still better off if the string breaks whatever the halter! Regular nylon halters can do a fair bit of damage too in a panic situation.
All the best
11th Oct 2004, 09:30 PM
they're just basic yielding exercises, the likes of which you'll find on any NH website.
as are the seven games - almost all of these are yeilding exercises.
I think that every method can be abused, and also can be used well.
As for Monty himself I don't know a lot, he does come across as a bit messianic, but he's American and OTT is their style.
That applies to Pat Parelli as well :) I think their style puts many Brits off even before they get to their method!
Personally I think the Parelli halter and the Dually can be equally dangerous in the wrong hands, as can both methods.
I like the non dogmatic attitude too, that everything is worth trying so long as it fits the ethos, which contrasts nicely with the bible bashing of PNH
I have found the same thing (realistic attitudes and openess to methods) with PNH instructors and students - Monty Roberts sells his method, as does Pat Parelli but underneath are a lot of people working hard for the good of their horses:)
A disciple-like attitude and blinkered approach lets down any method whether it be MR, PNH, or classical or BHS methods etc. All of these are practised well by some and badly by others, and all are (in my opinion) valid methods when applied well and sensitively.
11th Oct 2004, 10:17 PM
My impressions of Richard Maxwell are that he is more realistic and open. He prescribes listening to the horse, understanding its nature and training without agression, but he doesn't seem to be into flogging a lot of his own stuff and actually speaks out against such an approach!
What do others think?
11th Oct 2004, 11:25 PM
To be honest I didn't know NH had a bad name, but we can find bad people in all walks of life, its amazing when I read stuff here just how much 'people' problems I can see reflected in my work, as a engineer and boss.The majority of problems that I encounter are people made, more so through poor training and a self belief there doing it right.I find frustration and anger have no place in the work place, if you are to teach and overcome problems,use your energy wisely..
I believe NH can help to get you away from that 'people' side of things, onto what is important.The added benifit is that it builds your confidence too, something horses like, not dominance.
A good many of us don't have the benifit of a life time around horse and are glad for people like Harry.
Its so easy to buy a horse and I don't think this helps.
Re the Dually halter, named so because it can be used for a dual purpose.Monty said use it right, adjust it to suit your horse, it will not exert excessive pressure and will release, if used correctly, it can also be used as a halter without any pressure action.
To be honest it has got to be very wise to asses a horse before a demonstration in public, its very unfair to label all displays a show.
There are time limitations and no instant fix, not for the horse. MR and others I have seen have stressed this.I did see a horse that many would have had shot, he had been to many a 'pros' yard to be broken, for sure they had broken this horse, with all their amazing qualifications and knowledge,it was a terrible sight.
Im glad to know some peolpe who boast about nothing, but they do have a wonderfull way with horses, they openly admit,you will never stop learning.
Having said all that,I don't like to see a young insucre horse or any, galloping inside a narrow round pen, sweating up real bad,I just don't get this:(
12th Oct 2004, 07:46 AM
Originally posted by FRED
I believe NH can help to get you away from that 'people' side of things, onto what is important.The added benifit is that it builds your confidence too, something horses like, not dominance.
I think that sums it up nicely Fred:)
I also think that there is the issue of people wanting you 'in their club' because it validates what they are doing- this doesnt just relate to horses, of course as Fred pointed out the 'people' issues are rife in business for example too. I have experienced such fascinating resistance in the real world and the out and out hostility in cyberspace when it becomes clear I do NH. Whatever variety(ies) we do, it is becoming clear on this thread that we all pick and choose the best of what we have seen/read and adjust our game accordingly but then we a discerning lot here at NR, n'est-ce pas?
12th Oct 2004, 09:21 AM
What an interesting thread!
Since becoming a horse owner last year I have bought a number of books that may or may not be considered NH - Kelly Marks, John Lyons, Richard Maxwell, Klaus Ferdinand Hempfling (sp?), a very old paperback on 'classical' riding and schooling - and they all seem to be singing from the same hymn sheet, even if they do snipe at each other!
As a side issue, I recently had first hand experience of what Es talks about when a horse is only trained a particular way - Murph came to me beautifully responsive to weight and leg aids to turn, but not very responsive in the mouth at all. This never really worried me and I adjusted my riding style to suit him - I felt it gave me a better seat and better feel of him and I don't like pulling a horse's mouth around anyway. However, since becoming pregnant and having to rely on others to ride him, I've had several moans along the lines of 'your horse won't turn' 'I can't steer him' and 'he needs a stronger bit because he ignores my hands' - needless to say, those last people don't get to ride him again! - but it has made me aware that whoever does ride him needs to be sensitive to his particular needs, which in turn makes me feel like I'm being over-protective mummy with a massive list of instructions for whoever rides him.... aarggh! It's very difficult to know what to do for the best....
12th Oct 2004, 11:52 AM
I agree about everyone singing from the same hymn sheet, my sort of lightbulb moment was watching Richard Maxwell at a demo using a myler combi bit to teach a horse to soften. Which in a not so roundabout way is identical to what Heather Moffett does with the pelham. Only a detail perhaps, but a the end of the day we are only dealing with a single animal, and whatever the label that gets stuck on the method there are only a limited number of ways to achieve a training goal in a kind and sympathetic manner.
I really like Richard Maxwell too, he takes a broad undogmatic approach and 'borrows' from various methods, and has close links with both Parelli and IH as far as I'm aware. He did have halters and ropes for sale at the demo I went to, and that halter is scary:D
His circling method looks pretty much like join up on the end of a rope to me, and he was getting the classic responses from the horses he used it on.
12th Oct 2004, 01:09 PM
"stars like Madonna do (I can't remember what it's called)"
Just a FYI for ya: Scienentology
12th Oct 2004, 01:48 PM
Thought I would share a new picture with all of you, Sonne decided to eat a fly lol
Hope you all have a great day.
12th Oct 2004, 05:28 PM
Natural Horsemanship is all about understanding your horse, co-operation, mutual respect and a great partnership.
Along with my BHS qualifications I take bits & pieces from Monty & Kelly. I think the most important thing is to use your common sense and think about the best approach for you and the horse, after all different methods suit different horses.
Kate, I have been to a couple of Parelli demos but like Yann, Iím more with the Monty & Kelly Marks school of thought. I have watched Monty & Kelly on numerous occasions and have never seen anything harsh used. They will say that they only have a certain time to work with the horse and what is nice to see is they never have a set plan. Help and advice is always offered to the horse after the demo if the owner wishes. What we see in a demonstration would be done over days/weeks but the public like to see results.
The Dually Halter is simply a training halter. Some names that come to mind - Monty Roberts, Kelly Marks, Michael Peace or Richard Maxwell. They all use some kind of Training Halter using Pressure & Release in order to gain respect from the horse. Pressure with a halter should never mean pain, just slight pressure and when the horse responds with the tiniest of move then you immediately release. Once the horse has understands, you can then go on to use an ordinary halter.
22nd Nov 2004, 02:40 PM
Well stated Kate F and Lawgirl.
When I first started reading this thread all of your statements were reeling through my brain, then as I read further, I came across your posts, so you saved me A LOT of typing.
Great job! :)
22nd Nov 2004, 05:13 PM
this has indeed been an informative thread. I am interested in NH and am planning to practice this with my new horse. I have done NH before with very 'difficult' horses and they responded beautifully. I have not practiced any particular method though.
It seems that when I have mentioned nh to some people they do dismiss it as a fad. Usually this is from people that are horse ingnorant (is there such a thing:) ). I have also trained my dogs naturally (was mentioned in one of the posts) and they also came out well, this was also met with sceptism(sp) from some people. Both my dogs lie down if they see a horse and rider approach when we are out walking and this is gratefully noticed by some of the riders:) . It will be interesting when they are introduced to the new edition to the family!
sorry middle paragraph is a bit off the subject.
19th Aug 2005, 06:34 AM
"stars like Madonna do (I can't remember what it's called)"
Just a FYI for ya: Scienentology
Scientology is Tom Cruise, Madonna is into Kabbalah. :D They're both interesting.
19th Aug 2005, 06:37 AM
Oops... I didn't notice the dates on this!! My bad :) Ignore this everybody! :o
19th Aug 2005, 08:01 AM
Not that I'm an expert on 'NH' but the things that I have read about are things that I do anyway! Most of it is common sense or things that come with the experience of being with horses over a period of time. I don't like to classify myself as natural or BHS or conventional or classical etc because I don't follow any of them as such. I just draw from my previous experiences good or bad, sometimes I will do the same things, sometimes I will do things differently & I always treat horses as individuals, what works for one won't necessarily work for another.
I feel that I am very lucky to have had horses all of my life so that I can draw on those experiences, a lot of people aren't that lucky so will try varying methods until they find something that suits them.
I do feel that sometimes 'NH' is getting rammed down my throat by some people who think it is the only way to do things when in reality it isn't always the answer. I also think it can be quite dangerous when these methods aren't done correctly or people only take a small chunk of the program & think that everything else will then fall into place.
19th Aug 2005, 11:09 AM
I think NH is just one of many ways to train and work with horses. Let's face it... There's just too many different types of horses, with too many personalities, and too many personality disorders, to be able to use one training system on all of them. There's also the other end of the scale, where I've heard people fanatical about NH and put down anyone who uses more traditional methods. My instructor (yes I know I mention her a lot, but she's my mentor) has said how a lot of the older, English riders are beginning to lean more toward some of the things associated with Western riders, such as longer stirrups and less rein contact. She herself is far from NH, but her horses are happy, healthy, smart and usually quit willing to do what's asked of them. And if that's the case, then who cares what system you're using?
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