Ideas Behind Natural Horsemanship
The method of natural horsemanship has countless variations. This is probably the most preferred method for training horses.
The main ideas behind natural horsemanship training methods are as follows:
• The communication system of horses is highly developed. They primarily communicate with each other with the help of body language.
Horses are extremely receptive to the body language of humans too. This concept is used in making the horses understand us by utilizing their manner of communication.
• Horses have a functional, successful as well as evolutionary social system and intelligence system of their own.
• Humans involved in the task of training horses must have proper knowledge regarding the communication system and natural instincts of horses if they want to successfully make the horses understand them. These concepts should be properly utilized while designing the training methods.
• Natural horsemanship is concerned with making wrong things difficult and easing up the correct things. This involves rewarding the horses with appropriate love and care when they successfully or correctly respond to signals and cues of trainers. Hence, by utilizing this concept of rewards, no pressure or force is involved in training horses through this method.
Reinforcement can be of two types:
• Positive Reinforcement:
This is concerned with strengthening certain behaviors by utilizing rewards. Hence, in this reinforcement type, trainers present some rewarding stimulus for making the horses respond positively.
For example, for making the horses walk in a trailer, an apple can be used as a rewarding stimulus. This will make the horse respond to our requests positively.
• Negative Reinforcement:
This is involved with strengthening a behavior by removing an unwanted or rather aversive stimulus.
Hence, the behavior which is desired from the horse is reinforced by discarding some situation which is responsible for providing an unwanted or aversive stimulus.
For making horses move, apply shoulder over the shoulder of horses, and release it only when they move. Hence, the release of unwanted, uncomfortable and annoying pressure can be considered the horse’s reward for behaving correctly.
The popularity of natural horsemanship has really picked up since the last two decades and numerous books, websites, tapes and videos are now available for helping novice trainers. This philosophy capitalizes on using behavioral reinforcement instead of force and punishment as is used in traditional training methods.
Hence, this is a much happier and calmer method. Tom and Bill Dorrance, Monty Roberts, Ray Hunt and few more are 20th century’s well-known natural horsemanship practitioners.