Gentle horse training and natural horsemanship are terms that are bandied about in the horse world, but what do they actually mean? They don’t necessarily mean that the alternative is harsh or cruel, but they do promote a method of training that is all about working with the horse’s nature. Here are the basic principles of gentle horse training, pitfalls to avoid, and how to assess what works for you and your horse.
Whether you call it gentle horse training or natural horsemanship, the ideas are the same: Focus on the relationship and working with the horse’s nature, rather than against it. Sometimes trying to use force to get things done with a horse can be like trying to put a square peg in a round hole. Natural horsemanship stresses the importance of cultivating a relationship with the horse, establishing trust and respect through groundwork, and using reward and the release of pressure to teach the horse what you want.
The concept of natural horsemanship has become very commercialized, and it’s important to remember that the big names in the industry are businesses, and businesses are about marketing. Use common sense and be cautious when researching any new training approach. Watch out for gimmicks and ploys to get you to spend more money or to keep you dependent on them. This isn’t to say that the big names don’t have good advice, but use common sense when money is involved.
The more you learn about gentle horse training, the more you’ll likely find that there are some things you do already, other things that make sense to add to your training regiment, and still others that you don’t agree with. Many owners, and many trainers too, use a blend of different philosophies, which is why the advice from different natural horsemanship gurus can vary so widely. You can do the same! Remember also that what works for one horse may not work for another, so learning and understanding multiple training approaches can provide additional tools you can use to work with a challenging horse.
Regardless of what training methods you use, no horse will perform at his best if his needs are not being met appropriately. This means making sure horses are sound, comfortable, and that their physical needs are being met, such as hoof care, dental care, and calorie needs. Feeding represents a special area of concern, since horses need enough calories in their diet to do the job at hand, but not too many calories, which can create extra energy that is difficult to harness in training. For more information about how our pelleted feeds make it easier to regulate nutrition and meet your horse’s needs, contact Sacate Pellet Mills today.