On Sat, 20 Dec 1997 13:59:07 -0800, Laura Friedman
>After the long and interesting posts, I'm starting to get an idea about
>how NH trainers start young horses. However, I'm wondering if their
>approach is also different for certain situations when one is riding and
>feels some punishment, or attention getting by whip, might be
>I've made a list below, and I'm curious how Buck, Monty, Jackie &
>Sylvania would handle these situations. This is not meant to be some
>kind of trap -- I am genuinely interested to find out what different
>schools would suggest here.
>Now, it's possible to argue that an NH trained horse would never do any
>of the following, but that seems to me a cop out.
If you're talking about a horse started and trained completely via nh
I'd say the odds of them doing any of the things listed is pretty
remote. I don't think it's a cop out for the simple reason that the
basis of any good training method, be it nh or not, is the horse's
acceptance of the rider as Alpha, and a degree of respect for that
Alpha has already been established. But this is equally true of any
well-broke horse. I'm not Monty, Jackie, John or Sylvana, but I'd
like to take a stab at responding to these specific scenarios.
Some of us (I often
>exercise horses for other people) don't have the luxury of riding horses
>that we train, or even know anything about the training of horses we
>ride for others.
I don't often exercise other folk's horses, but I do get them for
retraining, and a good piece of advice, IMO, is to ask the owner up
front what possible behavior problems to expect. If you have some
advance knowledge it's easier to formulate a way of dealing with it in
So is there a Natural Horsemanship non-painful way of
>handling the following?
>1. You are riding in a stream and all of a sudden your horse starts to
>drop down to roll in the water.
>I would kick that horse as hard as I could, and move on to the whip if
>they continued going down.
First, a horse can't get down to roll if you don't let him have his
head, so pick him up and ask him to move forward, if a horse doesn't
understand this most basic of requests, IMO, he/she isn't ready for
>2. You are riding a green horse on a trail when a crowd of rude riders
>goes galloping past you. Your horse starts to bolt, then rears when you
>try to stop them. You think that as soon as their front feet hit the
>ground the horse will try to bolt again.
If your method of dealing with a bolt is hauling back on the reins
this will cause the rearing, better to just use one rein to bring the
head around, he can circle as long as he wants, if you keep him moving
forward he can't rear. I also would not expect a green horse to deal
with a large unruly crowd, I'd bring him up slowly, by starting him
with one other horse and teach him some emotional control before
exposing him to a bunch of inconsiderate yahoos.
>I would discipline the horse for going up with voice and by hitting it
>at the top of its neck - hard. I would spin him on the ground so that
>he wasn't facing the bolting horses and use my voice and possibly slaps
>until his attention is on me instead of the other horses.
I'm not a dyed-in-the-wool nher but what do you hope to accomplish by
hitting him? Use of proper aids, such as your seat, legs, voice and
hands will be alot more effective than slaps. This will only
exacerbate the situation. The rider must be in emotional control if
he expects his horse to be. I don't know if this would be considered
an nh philosopy or not, but in dealing with dogs, horses and kids, I
try to replace an inappropriate behavior with a good behavior and then
>3. You are riding down a trail and your horse sees an evil horse eating
>plastic bag blowing in the breeze in front of them. They stop, start to
>snort, and balk.
>I would use voice to get his attention back on me - an ear turned back,
>an eye looking at me. If he were still fixated on the object in front
>of him, I'd use soft taps with the whip, escalating in force, until I
>got his attention back. If he is attentive to me but still refuses to
>walk forward I'd get off and walk him past the offending object.
Rather than tapping with the whip, why not just let the horse
investigate the monster? If you let him approach it at his own pace
and show him it's no big deal, he's learned that he can trust your
judgement, forcing the issue with the whip is counter-productive.
IMO, getting off is not a good idea.
>Is there a better way?
Laura, I never, ever carry a whip, and though I agree with Jane's
advice to use one with a seriously agressive horse, and with respect
to the dressage folks (who are ususally schooled in a whip's proper
use), IMO whips just aren't required to get a horse to be attentive
and responsive to a rider or handler.
I've also followed this thread with interest, enough to get me to post
here again. I *can* understand both positions. I don't doubt a bit,
the talent possessed by the likes of Buck, Monty, John, Pat, etc. and
there is much value in what they attempt to teach, but I also agree
with Jane's position that one size fits all is not applicable. Much
of what the "nh" gurus teach is just plain common sense and a great
deal of "horsespeak" and is not new. What *is* new is the method of
presentation, and it's availability to more people.
I think that most folks could benefit by attending an nh clinic
provided they keep an open mind and understand that these techniques
will work with most horses, but most assuredly, not all. I believe
Catja mentioned keeping many tools in her toolbox, and IMO this is the
more sensible approach to training. I use some "nh" techniques, but I
prefer not to handicap myself by throwing out every other option, for
instance, I had a horse in here that was for sale on consignment, he
had not been trained to stand quietly for the farrier, so we tied a
foot up. Got the job done, safely. The horse was not here long
enough for me to go through the necessary steps to train him, nor was
it my responsibility.
Personally, I don't like gimmicks and I don't have any faith in magic
wands, flags (??), special halters, magic reins,etc. My "training"
equipment consists of a saddle, bridle w/a D-ring snaffle, or a bosal.
I also use a soft cotton rope to teach horses (not handled as babies)
to pick up their feet and to accept being hobbled, I add a second line
for ground driving. I have a round pen, but seldom do more than a
week's worth of work in it, if a horse hasn't learned in a week, it's
time to consider other options.
Ideally, we would all only handle home-bred babies and have complete
control over how they are handled from day one, this is rarely the
case, and IMO we approach each horse as an individual and use that
method that works best for that horse. I like nh work because it is
generally the least stressful approach for the the horse, but being
pragmatic, the horse *WILL* do what I reasonably ask, and will do so
without attempting to cause me bodily harm. Intentional or otherwise.
I will quickly and painfully respond to acts of agression, motivation
The thing I'm curious about is how everyone interprets the use of the
round-pen. I use it only until the horse will move out, stop and turn
when I ask or when Rico forgets he's s'posed to come when I call him,
although the same can be accomplished in the pasture.
Looking forward to other responses