Specialist Topic - Horsemanship

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What is it?

“It is the human’s ability to create a willing partnership or unity with the horse.”

This is achieved through understanding,
Understanding includes Rider and Horse awareness
Rider awareness is being present in the moment.
Horse awareness is knowing your horse like the back of your hand.

A horse is a horse - A Human is not a horse

Forcing a horse or making a horse do anything is futile, if you wish to win or be successful in your chosen horse sport, or just have a meaningful relationship with your horse, the best chance you have is to become an aware thinking horseman and understand how to communicate with a horse in terms of their values.

When a horseman or horsewomen is confronted with a problem they don’t rush in and try and fix it with force, they think about the problem, analyze, and then sets about fixing it in a way the horse will understand slowly and quietly. And if they can’t find a solution to the problem they will ask for help.

The first thing a person needs to become a horseman is the willingness to be taught. A person needs to be open minded about new ideas, also have the ability to be humble.
Without humility riders cannot admit when the horse knows better.

Develop self-awareness; be aware of your body actions, expressions and personality and understand how they affect the horse. Be honest, without honesty you cannot look objectively at mistakes. Develop observation skills; the ability to read you horse’s expression and understand his personality.

Rider requirements towards understanding Horsemanship

Riders should be able to maintain 100% concentration (be present) whilst training a horse.

Knowing how a horse thinks, what makes him react, understanding our own personalities, be flexible -

These are all prerequisites to successful horsemanship.

Horses will act in self preservation through four determining factors
• Pain
• Fear
• Disrespect
• Misunderstanding
Determining at the moment of reaction, which factor is engaged will determine your path of action.

Both the horse and rider’s personalities play a large part in the training process. A person can learn as much about riding and training techniques as he wants, but until he understands the principles behind this he hasn’t learnt anything.

Mechanics, methods, techniques and strategies are all learned experiences but the mental approach is the rider’s own personality or expression.
Personality and expression is the deciding factor in the way a rider applies all the things he has learned.
There are predominantly two types of personalities in a horse and rider.
The ultimate goal is to have equal amounts of both, this means balance or equilibrium.

Introvert/Retreative – meaning inwards- or as we say a horse or person that thinks before they act or react (sometimes too much, sometimes they use thought to distance themselves from their body).

Extrovert – meaning outwards acting, lively or reacting without thought.

The best way to understand your horse’s personality, the way he thinks and what makes him tick is to spend time with him in his natural environment.
It is important to encourage awareness and presence in both horse and rider.

There are parts of your personality traits you will not be aware of, or we choose not to see them.
There are two ways of discovering them, be courageous and ask people you trust to give you feedback about yourself, how you conduct yourself in society and towards them and others.
When you start hearing the same thing from multiple sources – You will be hearing the truth.
The truth is we all have the same traits, to be able to make a change we first need to own the trait and then see it within us.
The second one is noticing traits in others – simply if you spot it you have got it
If something you notice in another human is bothersome, annoying or makes you uncomfortable it is something that you do now, or will do in the future, or have done in the past

Having a relationship with a horse is no different to having a relationship with a person.
Noticing undesirable behavior of humans shows us we need to change within ourselves; spotting undesirable behavior in a horse also tells us we have to make some changes within, to cause a change with the horse.

“A Horse is a reflection of its Rider” Ray Hunt.

Horseman or intimidation artist
There are horsemen and there are intimidation artists. A horseman thinks an intimidation artist uses fear for control; these humans generally have fear issues themselves - fear of rejection, fear of loss.
We should never intimidate, belittle or take way a horse’s dignity through pain, fear or exhaustion.

A person who spurs and jerks, has dust flying, sweat pouring or has their horse seeking air,
will not have a horse in the future, and will not have an exceptional winner!
You see these people; they turn over a lot of horses and blame the horse for their shortcomings.

If you are patient your horse will learn patience.
If you are confident you will have balance, if you are balanced you will have confidence.

Expression or noticing the signs for problem solving

The majority of people are not aware of the signs and do therefore not understand what a horse is expressing. Consequently they run into trouble or create problems. If you read or listen to the signs you can stop, back off, reassess and return to slow preparation in your training so the horse understands. Then he will remember what it felt like when he was right. And you will also remember what it felt like when it was right.


When the horse is right in his mind, you will be able to progress to the next level.
If you ride or work on the ground,with a positive outlook and confidence your horse will be more confident.

Horses have feelings, thoughts, wants, needs, fears, similarly to humans,but are not human.
Horse’s brains are much smaller but their hearts are much bigger.Small brains free them from the self consciousness and manipulation of an ego. If they are afraid or angry they let us know immediately.
Unlike humans horses never lie.
Horses have a superior survival ability, which has given them the ultimate memory as similar as an elephant. If we let them down they never forget but with their big hearts they always forgive.
So if we are going to have a willing partnership with our horses we need trust, respect and love,
These three traits create Equilibrium or balance:).

This is just an introduction to understanding horsemanship if you would like more please PM us and we will be happy to assist.

"Horsemanship is a Journey" Enjoy the ride:)
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