Wednesday, September 1, 2010
TTOTD's Take on Natural Horsemanship
There is a huge discussion (again) going on over on Fugly's blog about NH. We all know that she doesn't think much of it, to say the least. I thought I would take a chance to state my views on it.
- I am not anti-NH, I am anti-stupid. I believe in what I call CSH or Common Sense Horsemanship. That thing weighs many times more than you do, don't be stupid. You can't be "nice" all the time to your horse if it is being a brat. You can't "love" them into submission. You have to have some common sense.
- I do use some so-called NH techniques. I tend to try to communicate with my horses in their own language, as much as a person can at any rate. They know I am boss mare, they respect my space. If they get too close, a growl and the "ugly mare face" will usually back them off. If they persist, they get smacked.
- I don't beat my horses, I WILL smack the ever-livin' crap out of them if they do something naughty. Bad behavior must be punished quickly and fairly. Usually I try to make it seem to them that THEY caused the punishment. "Oh, I am sorry! Did you just run your nose into my elbow REALLY HARD when you tried to bite me?"
- One example of my method in comparison to a well-known NH guru's teachings - My horse has no idea what the hell to do when asked to back up using Parelli techniques. Waving your finger at her and wiggling the lead illicits the head in the air and confused look from her. If you want her to back, point at her chest and give a gentle backwards tug on the rope and say "back up". Nice and quiet, no dramatic hand waving needed.
- I do use positive reinforcement, if she is good, she gets a pat and a cookie if I have one.
- I ride her when I want, not when she wants.
- Spooking and refusing to move for no reason is not tolerated, I do not dismount and do "approach and retreat" what does she learn then? "Oh, if I pretend to be scared and refuse to go forward, Mom gets off of me and we mess around on the ground and I don't get ridden as much." No, if she spooks and refuses to move forward, she has to stand facing the scary monster until she decides to go on. We can stand there ALL day, I don't care. And while we do, I am going to fidget, bump her sides and wiggle around and make it as uncomfortable as possible. As soon as she moves toward the monster, I relax. Simple, spooking and refusing to go forward makes things uncomfortable, going past the monster is much more pleasant.
- I try to remain calm and centered when working with horses, especially mine. She is sensitive and very much able to pick up on my mood. If I am tense, she is more spooky and high-strung.
So, no, I don't "follow" any one specific training method. I think everyone needs to figure out what works best for them and their own horse. I try to be fair with mine and use common sense when handling them. I have a horse that is sensitive, somewhat fearful of new things, and very, very silly at times. She is also very smart. It does not take long for her to figure out how things are going to be and what the consequences are for her actions. You just have to be consistent and fair. Using too much force with her nets the opposite result, you have to be firm, but not harsh. That's just how she is, her mother is the same way.
So what works for you and your horse? Do you have issues with a behavior and want some help correcting it? I know there are lots of experienced, successful trainers that read this blog. Let's discuss it.