Horsemanship is about communicating with horses using body language, sometimes referred to as “Equus”. A language all horses are born already knowing and that they use with each other. A mother horse reinforces this language with the foal from the moment it is born, and so does the rest of the herd.
How to use your eyes.
How to place your body and parts of your body.
Your tone of voice or lack of voice.
How to use pressure and release of pressure to reap a desired response.
What to use as tools to enhance effective communication.
How to listen to what the horse is saying in body language.
Groundwork is essential and comes before riding. The communication and respect you gain on the ground translates directly to saddle work.
Horsemanship is the art of working, training and riding with horses. By working in a manner which works with the horse’s behavior, instincts and personality.
Using gentle guidance rather than force or mechanical devices.
Using pressure and release to guide the horse to learn, and understanding.
I’ve learned to be upfront with what i’m doing. I never try to be sneaky when dealing with my horses. They always know and then lose trust in me if I try to trick them. Don’t hide halters behind your back, bribe them with food, or tell them something won’t hurt when it will. A good leader can be trusted no matter what they are walking into.
I don’t make them stand still. Understanding a horse is a prey animal that survives by running from threats, it’s not productive to ‘make him stand still” when he’s bothered. So I allow them to move but make it on my terms by asking him to circle, go backwards and/ or sideways. Eventually they figures out it’s easier to stand still and it becomes their idea.
The rewards of horsemanship
I try to do what other horses do. Anyone going past the stables on a regular basis probably comment that I’m always standing outside drinking coffee. It’s true but what they don’t understand is that I am watching and learning all the time. The language they display is a valuable tool. I also think it benefits me that they see me around all the time. They definately lift their heads and prick u their ears when I arrive in the car. I’ve also noticed disapproval when I leave.
Every interaction with your horse is important. Horsemanship isn’t just using the techniques when you are training your horse, but a mindset every time you’re around your equine partner.
I try to make it fun, not just work.
Spend time just being with your horse. Set aside time to just sit with them while they’re eating or stroke them while they’re napping. Anything that doesn’t include an agenda.
Here’s a few articles about the benefits of working with natural horsemanship.