Natural horsemanship OR just plain old Horsemanship!

Discussion in 'Training Horses' started by FDPH, Oct 31, 2009.

  1. FDPH

    FDPH Guest

    I read with interest the thread on Parelli and helmets, which is not what this thread is about! What I did note is that everyone talks about NH... what is this? I think the teachings of Hunt and Dorrance through Parelli have been categorized and marketed by Parelli into NH! In reality Dorrance was just an old cowboy with exceptional ability with a horse who came across Hunt and they changed perceptions in the world about horses, nothing natural just plain horsesense. I have never been to a Parelli clinic and to be honest neither do I want to as I do not approve of their bastardisation of Dorrance/Hunts teachings, HOWEVER Parelli has helped alot of weekend riders get along better with their horse.

    So to all Natural Horsemanship people out there what is Natural Horsemanship.... is it natural or just good old fashioned horsemanship mixed with common sense??:confused:
  2. HorseSlave

    HorseSlave Well-known Member

    I do believe it was Ray himself who said that there's nothing natural about sitting on a horses back :)

    Having said that though, I believe the perception of "Natural Horsemanship" is that type of training that "avoids fear- and pain-based training methods" - that's straight out of Wikipedia.

    I find it a bit sad that in this day and age, some people need to put the word "natural" in front of "horsemanship" in order to mean this. Surely the terms should just be "horsemanship" and "bad horsemanship"?
  3. EVP

    EVP Gold Member

    The term NH was created as a means to convey "My method is better". Its a real clever way of insinuates that being "natural" is better for the horse therefore giving better results. It has worked with food for years (all-natural juice, all-natural yogurt) so why not apply it to horse teaching!

    Lots of good cowboys spent time with Ray Hunt....Parelli, Marten, Brannaman, Cameron, Cox, Reis, to name a few. And then went out and marketed themselves to earn a living and spread the word. Only one went on to become a multimillionaire. Not from better teachings but because of a very clever wife. Good luck to him!!

    Ray and the Dorrance brothers wern't looking for a 'natural' way to work with horses....they were looking for ways that were easier!! Easier for horse.....and physically easier for human. This mutual benefit created a "method" that turned out horses that were easier to manage by the majority of people, & saved a lot of broken bones, sweat and frustration to the breaker.

    Yes agreed, anything that helps horses be handled in gentler ways is matter what tag it wears......and as long as the real reason is always acknowledged...and that is.......FOR THE BENEFIT of the horse not for the adulation of the handler!!
    Unfortunately NH created many people who care more for what THEY can train in their showcase themself and little more.
  4. FDPH

    FDPH Guest


    Spot on Horseslave! I also read with interest in the Parelli /helmets thread that when a horse acts up you dismount and disengage his hindquarters... to my mind if your any kind of hand you can disengage their hindquarters when your on their back so why the hell get off to do it!!!! In 97 I did a clinic with Ray Hunt and it was amazing how many people lined up to do the "NH" part of the clinic, their answer to the "we are here to do the NH clinic" was "we don't do NH we just do Horsemanship' equally interesting was those same people were at the lowest end of that part of the clinic, probably because there was no categories to ride in or levels or carrot sticks!!
    So again why cant people see horsemanship for what it is good and bad rather than labels NH, English, Western etc??
  5. Saiorse

    Saiorse Well-known Member

    When I first met Pat Parelli I had no idea what "Natural Horsemanship" was. I'm from a traditional English background. Pat told me that others had started calling it "Natural" as the stuff his teachers were doing; Tom, Ray, Ronnie & many unknown but great Horsemen he had learned from, was seen by the traditional US horsemen as more "naturally" inclined than anything else. Compared to Sacking-out and so on, I guess it seemed downright "Brokeback Mountain" LOL. So they referred to it as "Natural" and when Pat was asked to join Western Horseman & complete a book about this style, that is what they called it.

    Anyway, by 1999/2000 I saw the writing on the wall. I'm old enough to have lived through many a backlash, and once Linda Patterson & various entrepreneurs joined the revolution in Horsemanship, Natural became synonymous with rope-twirling amateurs. Sadly, a target of ridicule and bullying too.

    When I registered my business back then, I knew one thing for certain. Horsemanship means "skill in handling and riding horses". That was what I had, and that is what I do. All that was left was to put my name to it, so that no one could doubt what I do is mine. I learned the skill, I paid fair and square for the knowledge. I own it and you can do the same. Horsemanship with Jayne Lavender. No BS...

    Possibly it is not the prefix "Natural" that people have concerns over. Perhaps it is the management, organisation, method, attitude, nature, personality, understanding, arrogance, ignorance and so on of people who participate? Like being judgemental or racist? A UK equestrian magazine runs a cartoon each issue "Stereotypes" - hilarious and always close to the bone.

    Someone witty once said concern over words is the sign of a bankrupt intellect. I'd really like people to stop trade-marking and registering words, though!


  6. Sharaway

    Sharaway Guest

    Well between Bindi and Jane I think it wraps up every single reason why I avoid the "natural" camp like plague and I am happy just to be another person who "works with" the individual horse in front of me for the best and safest out come for us both.

    the #1 thing that sends me troppo is when "natural" people start waxing on at me about right brain versus left brain, and I watch the horse, clearly the ONLY one with a brain walking all over the person concerned and completely taking the piss thinking its human is a complete and utter joke.

    One thing I know for certain the debate is still out on wether or not horses have a soul but I will bet my life, my mothers life and the children I never had, they have one hell of a sense of humour!!

    I salute the horse, for putting up with us feble and insecure humans and forgiving us our own arrogance. Viva La Horse.
  7. painter

    painter Well-known Member

    To me, the 'natural' in Natural Horsemanship has nothing to do with Pat Parelli (and I don't give a rats Ar$e if he's trademarked the term). I use the term NH to describe communicating with my horses in a way that is natural for them to understand and based on how they learn.

    I learnt just about everything I know about horses in the 70's and 80's and never heard of 'Natural Horsemanship' or Pat Parelli until last year. (I was horseless for 16 years until last December), I had very few formal lessons, never belonged to a pony club - horses were my main teachers:D

    So I would say observation, common sense and good old fashioned horsemanship as opposed to what has been taught for so many years under traditional British Horse Society and pony club guidelines:)*
  8. Saiorse

    Saiorse Well-known Member


    I'm excited to have reached my 666th post on All Hallows Eve!

    I don't know Bindi, Sharaway, so can't tell if your post is fabulously sarcastic and witty but possibly insulting to "Bindi" & I, or straight-up? I'm clear that NH get's your goat though, LOL. There's no one more against smoking than a former smoker, so don't get me started on old school "Natural."

    I had another thought, for those not yet decided; I know Pat Parelli is oft quoted as saying "Natural is so old it's new again," but what about the masses of information modern science has brought to Horsemanship?

    Of course there are some classics - a recent report confirming turnout is better for the health of the horse (As if we didn't know this. Who needs someone in a white coat to tell us!), but the research into the brain and learning capacity for horses is useful to incorporate into the anecdotal work of the likes of Boucher, Dorrance et al?

  9. Clerrt

    Clerrt Well-known Member

    ahhh so they're good for something then - the horse in question's entertainment and our personal entertainment.

    We do a lot of NH bashing :)
    But I suppose humanity made fun of the Copernican Model back in the 16th century, and now its mainstream. Who knows whats in stall for the future:D

    In all seriousness, it does promote some good practices and other ridiculous ones, AS DOES EVERYTHING ELSE. I say study every 'method' you can, really dissect it and pull it apart down to its simplest levels (the hows, the whys), and extract the stuff that works for you and makes sense.

    And I just realised I have totally deviated from the point raised, ah well, I;ll post it anyway.........
  10. Seahorse

    Seahorse Well-known Member

    Great posts guys, food for thought...
    I'm not a huge fan of NH when it is presented as a religion. However, many of the teachings of these guys, even when wrapped in layers of marketing, make a lot of sense, although some definitely leave me scratching my head.
    I think the reason that recreational riders like the term NH is because for most of us, it was a really revolutionary concept. Instead of the accepted weekend routine of turn up - ride - feed carrot - leave, it got people thinking about how they interact with their horses. All of the professional horsemen probably think "Well, duh", but for the recreational riders, it was a new concept, and they are the people that all of the carrot sticks etc are marketed at.
    I think the NH gear appeals to a lot of people who ride for fun, but don't naturally have much of a way with horses (and I'm not excluding myself from that!). The Parelli levels and whatnot gives people a structured format, so they can learn in a way they are used to (like you do at school, university etc).
    For what it's worth, the vast majority of NH devotees (who identify as such) make my brain hurt. Why? Because once you become so rabid about promoting The Way, you close your mind, and stop learning. I've seen some people take up NH, and achieve wonderful results, but some people just not be able to ever get any benefits out of it, I think largely because of personality differences in both people, and horses.
    These days, horsemanship classes, run by various camps, and the idea of working with your horse, rather than against him, is much more accepted. There are a wider variety of practitioners and coaches teaching, so it's much more likely that you can find someone who really works for you and your horse. Unlike 10-15 years ago, there isn't such a divide between "NH" and "non-NH", which I think is a good thing.
    We are never too old to learn, and horses are always great teachers... :)
  11. El_equine

    El_equine Well-known Member

    Pretty much how I see it, it is more just commonsense horsmanship.

    I have Leslie Desmonds Horsemanship videos for children, she worked closely with Tom Dorrance. It was one of the better purchases I have made, even though it is designed for children, I love it as it is so easily explained, no fluffing about & fancy terms, just plain & easy. **)
  12. I think the biggest drawcard for people who follow Natural Horsemanship methods is that the words 'Natural Horsemanship' clearly differenciate the 'natural' method of interacting, training and working with the horse in a humane considerate method as opposed to 'ye olde traditional' where the horse is forced to our will by breaking it, using tools of torture and all the contraversially abusive methods that go along with that.

    Now natural horsemanship is widely recognised as either the be all end all by some or a bunch of blind disciple rope twirlers who only do 'NH' coz they're too scared of the horse to actually get on and work it by others.

    I think this is sad however like it or not, thats how its viewed.

    So I try to avoid using either term, when people ask me what I follow or do with my horses I just say "everything!"
  13. blitzen

    blitzen Gold Member

    i knew this woman once who, when i first met her, was really into Monty Roberts. she got into horses as an adult. i moved away, then moved back a year later & by that time she was into "parelli" and said (i quote) that she was "Beyond monty".

    then she moved away & i ran into her again briefly and she was following some other guy (carlos someone?) & ONLy rode out in a halter & leadrope yada yada. apparently her new inspiration would "Fix all the horses RUINED by parelli."

    meanwhile i'm thinking: ride in halter & leadrope? check. have done since i was a kid when the only horsey influences i had were PCAWA, my dad & the odd NCAS instructor or old dodgy horseman.

    it is THIS attitude that absolutely taints any good work that ANY sort of "natural horsemanship" offers to the community. regular joe blow meets a person like that and is immediately put off.

    plus, this whole 'natural vs horsemanship' argument just gives me the gip. idk why it has to be rehashed so many times, especially when people just end up saying the same thing over and over again.
  14. manocaaron

    manocaaron Well-known Member

    Years ago I think we just called it "horse sense" Natural horsemanship to me is more a term to descibe the non bullying techniques that a lot of old 'cowboy'* handlers used.
    I have never been to a pirelli clinic but have been to a M.Roberts one. Ive read books from both of them too though. I believe they all achieve the same result it just depends which way you want to run around the bush to get it.
    Me, I watch lots of different methods and take what I want from them to suit the horse.
    If they encourage people to be more aware of the way a horse thinks and processes the information we teach, then thats a good thing.
    If they encourage more people to get out and spend time with their horses other than just ride time then its also a good thing.
    I agree though that these people shouldnt trademark common words that can apply to lots of different methods.

    * not intended as derogetory description just couldnt think of another word.
  15. KC Quarter Horses

    KC Quarter Horses Gold Member

    I dont really need to say anything as I think HorseSlave said it perfectly :)*
  16. saltriver

    saltriver Guest

    Attending a clinic with Ray and Carolyn many years back , 3 people with the string on the pocket walked up to register : they asked Carolyn – we’re her to sign up for the Natural Horsemanship clinic
    Carolyn’s Response was: “We don’t teach Natural Horsemanship here you must be in the wrong place”

    They were somewhat perplexed by this and commented that they were Parelli students and it was highly recommended that they attend.
    Carolyn said well we can’t have you disappointed then – sign up
    Those guys were in for the biggest shock of their lives.

    For Ray’s famous words – “Natural Horsemanship – What a bunch of Baloney there is nothing natural about what we do with horses today.”
    “And who gave him (parelli) the right to put you in a square (meaning level) who‘s gonna put him in a square.”
    “Jeesh humans have always got opinions but the horse is a fact.”
    "Let the horse Teach you, But you have to listen "

    Any one that has anything to do with Ray, Tom, and Ronnie will know and understand the distaste they held for the marketing system that surrounded PNH P himself in the “business world” considered a very good business man and that can’t be denied.

    Ray before he died mentioned to me he would no longer communicate with P as he had lost all respect for him. P had asked Ray if he would be in conducting a clinic together last year to pay homage to the horse Ray closed the door in face. Tom also felt the same way.

    Parelli is no longer owned by P and L – they have a small shareholding in the company! Interesting!

    Horsemanship is about the horses – first
    Yourself Second
    And everything else third
    Many get lost in this equation

    Can’t wait until Australia gets inundated with the likes of Chris Cox, Clinton Anderson, Craig Cameron, Ryan Gingerich, and AND GOD FORBID RFDTV
    OMG we have horse channel on the way:))
  17. Sharaway

    Sharaway Guest

  18. painter

    painter Well-known Member

    Gotta love Mr HP**) I will admit that I have recently sent a bit of money in his direction for good quality equipment and dvd's, and recommend him to alot of people. I just hope he stays the course and dosn't sell out in the future.
  19. Elanda

    Elanda Gold Member

    I think NH is an overused label.
    My story:

    After having handled and ridden horses (hacking, showjumping, PC...) for nearly 40 years, and having learnt nearly everything I know from my father, I recently went to one of JL's groundwork days. I originally thought "well hell it will be a good outing for a very green horse if nothing else":)

    I was very pleasantly surprised as a lot of what my father taught me (and that he had learnt from his father) was what JL was teaching was in fact Common sense horsemanship:D
    I am not a believer in having to reach "levels" as all horses are different, I am however a believer that the more we understand how out horses think, the better we are able to work with them:)*
    So to me attending my first ever "NH" day was an eyeopener, I was prepared for all the cliched "NH" stuff and instead found a very commonsense approach that the old horseman have used for years:D
    I think it is a shame that more people do not take the time to learn about their horse and work with them instead of against them. I also think the term Natural Horsemanship covers a huge range of different philosophies (some that IMO opinion are very "extereme") and it is a shame that most people lump it all into one:(.

    edited to add:
    absolutely agree:)
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2009
  20. FDPH

    FDPH Guest

    It is interesting to read that natural is perceived to be "a method that involves working with a horse with no harsh methods etc" and the term was coined by PNH to market a product that was different to the old "slash em and bash em method", however the people that slash em and bash em perhaps aren't and weren't horsemen at all!! Perhaps anyone that has the inability to have the horses respect (and vice versa!), that create problems both on the ground and on the back arent horsemen either so to me the word "natural" is just a big box of bolony, you are either a good or bad horseman with many struggling to get better and others not giving a damn!

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