Sunday, 28 July 2013

Horses can Play Tough, but Fair

Sometimes people ask about the natural horsemanship approach thinking that it must be something soft and cuddly. Where the horse is trained, and ridden using only techniques that are pleasing to the untrained human eye.

There are horsemen past and present who have honed their ability to read horses in such a meaningful way as to be able to communicate with the horse, using its own language. David and Karen O'Connor, Udo Burger, Reiner Klimke, Pat Parelli, Bill Dorrance, GaWaNi Pony Boy, Mark Rashid, Rick Gore, Linda Parelli, Monty Roberts, Luis Lucio, Ingrid Klimke to name just and handful.

Not all of these would ascribe to the view they were 'natural horsemen' but they knew the needs of the individual horse and created a partnership between horse and human based amongst other things on trust, respect and leadership.

Pony Boy says that horses need clear unambiguous leadership. The horse hierarchy is based upon who leads and who follows. It is not possible to have a successful relationship with your horse if your horse thinks you are below it in the hierarchy. One of the challenges and tasks of the natural approach  is to establish and maintain the status of leader of the individual horse. This must be done in a way the horse recognises and respects. With the Parelli approach we start by using  a soft phase, directing the horse to do something, like move backwards, increasing the pressure in phases so the horse learns the pattern and cues. Eventually and quite quickly the horse becomes soft and responsive to the initial request phase.

We humans rarely or never exert the kind of force on a horse that horses use on each other. What humans have is mental ability and tools. Even so, this is arguably still not comparable to what happens when horses meet for the first time and start to sort out the pecking order in the herd.

Thankfully humans and horses usually engage in more gentle communication that the video clip below, showing what happened when Charlie horse met his new field mates in June 2013.

Here is an excellent  example of the display horses will put on to impress and challenge others. The smaller light bay pony is trying to dominate Charlie and get him to submit. Charlie doesn't understand and, being naturally dominant himself, he refuses to give in. The battle between them goes on and on until the pony gets the response  he wants from Charlie; submission.


Wednesday, 24 July 2013

New Beginnings with Charlie Horse

Charlie Horse

Those of you familiar with my blog will know that for many years my daughter and I had a lovely Fell Pony. He was the inspiration behind making bracelets and necklaces out of tail hair. He taught us so much and he led us to explore the world of natural horsemanship many years ago.

Our lovely Drifter was put to sleep in June 2013 and we realised we had to look for another horse.

Charlie was not the first horse we saw and when we travelled to see him in Lincolnshire, England, we were fairly down and wondering if looking it this horse was worth our while. You will know, if you have had to say goodbye to a horse, how painful that is. It takes time to get over it.

We arrived and Charlie had an immediate presence about him. We 'played' with him and spoke to him and he was very happy to be with us. He is a four year old warmblood x draft by Jessop Lovely Boy, who was described as a blank canvass. He had been cared for by Paula and her husband and they had done a good job of helping Charlie to like being around people and enjoy being handled, although he had done little beyond basic handling. And so Charlie was to be our new horse. Destined to have a natural horse training and upbringing and hopefully a home for life.

We hope Charlie will turn out so be a good all round riding horse. He could excel competition but that is not our aim. We want a really healthy, happy, well trained horse to enjoy.

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