Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Finding Horsaii

I'm not done with my NH conversation, mainly because, mugwump that I am, I see another side, a positive one, to what these folks bring to the table.

It's pretty clear to me I have a problem with the term Natural Horseman.

I might qualify as one, if you factor in forgetting to shave my legs until I'm forced to expose my lily white legs to the public, but other than that, no.

The NH moniker was created as a commercial promotion. It's become a catch all phrase for anybody in a cowboy hat, baseball cap or chinks with an eager group of check writing followers, a round pen and a theory on training through communication with a horse, usually based on the training of Ray Hunt and the Dorrance brothers.

While I don't reject Ray Hunt or Tom Dorrance, I do reject the NH label. So that's that.


There's a terrible situation out in the equine world.

There are still many horse hungry people ready to enter the horse world.
There are lots of available horses.
What there isn't is a steady supply of solidly trained, rider friendly horses, or access to free/inexpensive advice that is actually usable.

Because my experience is all based out here in the west, I can only go by that. I don't know how those in the other parts of the country fare, but I'd like to learn, so please, jump in with your experiences.

When I was a kid there was always a horse-savvy adult around somewhere to help me along the way. My shoer took me aside and explained how I could get weight on Mort with more hay and less grain.

The guy at the tack store showed me the mechanics of various bits, hackamores etc. and knew from experience how they worked.

The judges at my little horse shows were breeders and ranchers who knew their stuff.

My riding club was stuffed chock full of people who had owned horses for generations.

Knowledge and support were there for the taking. While it wasn't always good information, it wasn't from ignorance, it came from tradition and experience.

Help was available to me.

Broke horses were readily available. They turned left and right, stopped, went down the trail and had enough manners to not kill us.

Horses that bit, kicked or weren't safe to ride were sent down the road. Yes, they probably ended up on the slaughter truck. But there weren't that many, because there were still plenty of ranches, breeders etc. who wouldn't dream of selling horses that weren't properly started. It reflected on their sales if they did.

There were still a lot of people who had horses as a way of life. So information was readily available.

It just isn't like that anymore.

Now there are many horses, not started, poorly started etc. and many people new to the horse world are a generation or two from people with long term horse experience.

We have lots of new people without a grandpa who kept horses who find themselves with green or wish they were green horses. Or broke horses with crazy stupid vices.

What are they supposed to do?

Yes, there are riding lessons. This doesn't help you learn who horses are. And, much of the instruction nowadays come from people who are first generation horsemen themselves. Nothing wrong with it, but it's going to lead to misinformation and mistakes.

It's easy to say, "You need to ride a 12-year-old been there, done that gelding."

Good luck finding that one.

This is where clinicians come in.

John Lyons taught me to break things down to the smallest step and build.
Monty Roberts taught me to watch herd behavior and adapt it to my training methods.
Pat Parelli taught me I'm a total geek when it comes to using long lines.
Lyn Palm taught me to study dressage and become a better western rider.
Ray Hunt gave me feet and feel.

See where I'm going here?

I'm sure there are plenty of stories out there slamming each and every one of these folk. It really doesn't matter to me. Each and every one of them gave me something I needed in order to climb the ladder to becoming Horsaii.

Sometimes only one sentence, sometimes whole chapters, but I was able to get information from these people I wouldn't have had access to unless they were travelling around the country, spreading the word and making a little dough at the same time

It was never a waste of my time or money.

Through clinics I gained enough of an understanding of what made a horse tick to head into the world of the cow horse and remain a thinking, caring trainer. I understood what as taught to me even if I had to watch and figure things out over having technique explained.

Through clinicians I learned to really study the horses mind, to become patient, to not take short cuts. I learned anger has no place in my relationship with a horse and that has leaked out into how I handle my present life.

The deep well of patience I've developed is saving my sanity these days.

Maybe it's because I have never had the money to follow one trainer, it certainly taught me to pick and choose what I use.

But there is information out there for everyone and a lot of it comes from these travelling trainers. Some bad, some good, just like I got from the locals when I was a kid, but it's out there.

I kinda sorta think there's a lot of horses and new owners out there who would be screwed without them.


  1. Mugs you knew/know enough about horses to pick and choose what advice you follow from these clinicians. The green horse owner does not. That is why I'll always be a Parelli hater. Sure he has some good ideas, but his games have also f'ed up a lot of horses-despite the best intentions of their owners.

  2. I agree with you mugwump! You need to pick and choose what you like and what you don't. And you know what sometimes there IS more than one way to do it and you need to pick the best way for you AND your horse.

  3. I tell people, I'll always watch a trainer work, even if I don't think I agree with him -- if nothing else, I learn what NOT to do, or more about WHY I don't use his methods. (It's all well and good for me to stick with my gut, but "I don't like him" isn't, to me, a good justification for my clients -- I want THEM to put as much thought into this stuff as I do.)

    I'm all for trying different things, picking up bits and pieces, trying them on and either setting them in the toolbox for later, or discarding them altogether. But one of my main problems with the NH ilk is a general deterrence from seeking outside information. Many of these clinicians will imply, if not say outright, that their way is the only way. If you LOVE YOUR HORSE (and what new horse owner doesn't?) you will follow their way until you see the light, and shun the golden calves set out by other trainers and other brands along the way. It creates a mindset we've started calling "aggressively clueless" -- those that don't know, and don't WANT to know, what they could be doing wrong.

  4. There are pitfalls to everything when you're a newbie.
    I was using a horrible piece of equipment on Mort called a "Quick stop?" - made him bloody and furious.
    So all info I gathered wasn't good.
    It's going home and thinking between lessons learned that takes us along.

    I do know that the best way I've gotten people who grab onto only one clinician is not by running them down. It's waiting for the day when they say, "How do you do that?"

  5. I wasn't lucky enough to have much mentoring as a kid horseowner. My dad shared the interest with me and taught me the basics and we rode together but as soon as I reached puberty I thought I knew so much more than he did, poor guy to have to put up with my snotty self! When all I really knew was how to get on and go fast! Now there is so much information out there via the internet etc, whether their claim to fame is NH or not, you'd be a fool not to tune in and learn what you can. You gradually figure out what works for you and what doesn't. I fail to see how Parelli or any of the 'big name' NH people out there are ruining horses for life and I get sick of people making blanket statments about particular trainers. Personally I once went to a Parelli presentation, I didn't know a thing about them, and I came home born again. That lasted a couple of weeks, ha! I don't like the cult-like following, the endless groundwork and the merchandising machine ( I made my own Carrot Stick from an old fishing pole and used it about 30 seconds, ha). To each his own I say.

  6. I really had no mentoring as a kid - just got and rode and a lot of the horses weren't what you'd call broke.

    As one of the commentators said, it can be a real difficulty for people who are inexperienced to tell if a trainer is any good or if their methods are appropriate - even experienced folks seem to have trouble with that sometimes.

    The guy I mostly ride with, Mark Rashid, would agree with you about the NH term - he says it's just marketing and refuses to use it - he also says it's a meaningless term since none of it's "natural" and there are good and bad folks using the term. A good trainer is a good trainer, whatever they call themselves, and whatever discipline they're in.

    I agree that you can learn something from (almost) anybody, if only not what to do. That said, there's always a risk for newbies, and even experienced folks sometimes, of ending up in the "trainer-of-the-month" club, and flitting from trainer to trainer to trainer. This is sort of the other pole of the folks who follow one system rigidly - "systems", in the sense that all horses are treated as if they're all the same. It's important for training, and trainers, to have a "shape" - where you know what you're getting, and there's an approach that's effective while taking the interests of the individual horse into account.

    Sorry for the ramble . . .

  7. Ah, you said it exactly. Unless a trainer is just an abusive asshat, there is something to be learned... another tool for the training box.

    Another question: I have a very nice 12 year old paint mustang with great trail manners that needs to be ridden more consistantly than I have time to give her. She is mannerly, has basic training and a great walk on the trail. How do you find someone decent to part-lease your horse?

    I thought it would be easy. Not so much. I am in Central Oregon if anyone knows of anyone...

  8. Kate - no's a very important point. Trainer jumping can get a rider and their horse very confused and behind, it can also get the rider a reputation and then they can find it difficult to find someone to work with them.

  9. I had good mentoring as a kid - it was just as you said - experienced adults giving free advice...I had a well broke pony (who had her bratty moments), but I had the skills to deal with her.

    Everything now is about $$ - even the lady with no credentials or "real" experience that owns my boarding stable - everything comes at a price. Very hard for a green rider with a naughty/green horse to get anywhere...

  10. I think it's interesting that some of the same issues you bring up about horses are issues I've noticed with human beings. I've heard many parents lament that instead of DEPENDING on a culture full of adults to help raise kids (adults who aren't afraid to tell kids to knock off bad behavior, for example), we find ourselves in the position of trying to DEFEND our kids from our culture (everything from internet porn to drugs to the idea that it's OK to screw someone over as long as you get rich doing it).

    Horses are an "outside" activity, and thanks to our increasingly screen-based culture, fewer and fewer folks are going to have that innate horse knowledge you're talking about here. Really sad--since horses are such an incredibly positive influence for so many(particularly for young women, as you've brought up before).

    I think one of the things that I dislike about NH (speaking as an easily-influenced noob) was that I became really afraid of screwing up if I did something 'wrong' with my horse. A lot of clinicians have a financial interest in maintaining that their way is the "right" way or the "only" way, but the real masters know that many approaches work, and they're not shy about stating that. Even people who've trained dozens of horses run into difficulties and baffling cases. Most casual riders will never have the money to ride and train more than a handful of horses, and we have to try to make up that knowledge somehow--creating an excellent market for training DVDs and clinics, etc.

    I really don't know if there is a way to "teach" insight--I think that has to come from within the rider. Insight isn't something you can buy with cash--it's something that can only be paid for with sweat and tears and sleepless nights and trying new things. That's another hard truth that many clinicians don't like to talk about.

  11. Maybe the new term is "Thinking Horsemanship". "Horsaii" does sound better though. :)

    As being a rank beginner myself, its hard to find decent resources and to figure out how to separate the wheat from the chaff, so to speak. Everyone else might already know that a particular concept is a load of fluff, but how is the beginner to know? People usually get into the horse hobby because they love the overall picture of the animal. Learning how to ride is the easy part; learning why horses do what they do and how to be apart of that system is the life long part.

    Working with that 12-yr old "been there, done that" is something everybody should get to do at least once. Occasionally you have to find that old soul horse who fill the gaps in your education and shows you how its done without being a total brat about it. I've been lucky enough on that front. I also have a pretty patient trainer who tends to have to repeat himself a bit until it finally gets through my thick skull and sticks.

    Fetlock said: I really don't know if there is a way to "teach" insight--I think that has to come from within the rider. Insight isn't something you can buy with cash.

    I'd be broke if it was. :) I absolutely hate the "I have no effing clue what to do" feeling that comes from dealing with horses. I'm getting a little better, but man, I wish I already had years of experience under my belt.

  12. A-freaking-men.

    Everyone of those clinicians has a little something to throw in the pot that will stew up an amazing horse. Horses cannot be put into a cookie cutter and trained the same. Being able to pick and choose the best ways to teach a horse things from multiple sources of knowledge is the way to go. Hell, if we all think back on being in school, some teachers we found amazing because they "got it" while others weren't so good. Something different for everyone; something different for each horse.

    As for new folks, its seeming more and more like the interweb is a great resource; finding people like you, mugs, and others that have found you are able to form a network and help one another. It can't solve all the problems, no, but it can sure help to sort information and figure out what truth lies behind certain methods.

    Thanks for doing what you do on here.

  13. Very thought provoking and I have say I agree with you. Coming from a country where there were less horses and very few breeders, I was appalled to observe the breeding programs in this country - or lack there of. I think this in making a considerable input into the problems wanna be horse folk are facing. A horse of a pretty colour but unsound mind or body should not be bred in my humble opinion. Even a good looking horse of questionable background should be very carefully considered before breeding, especially if he is a stallion. Genetics is so very important to me. Genetics for soundness, and temperament in particular.

  14. And every animal* is different. What works for one team won't work for another.

    Being able to gather in a lot of ideas and then go back and apply them to see what works for your team is great. I get my hackles up whenever someone tells me I have to train a certain way and a certain way only.

    *human, horse, dog, whatever...

  15. It can be difficult to listen to the horse if there is a training program dictating every move. Ironically, I think that this is true even if one of the steps is to listen to your horse. That is how people get stuck and worried about the steps. The horse doesn't know the steps, which is why the trainer has to be knowledgeable and open-minded.

  16. A problem arises when you don't have access to a good mentor, either an experianced horse person, or an experianced horse.

    I grew up with no money, and no horses. I learned to not fall off to often on an elderly plug owned by a friend, and then bought my own yearling to grow up with. No one told me this was a bad idea.
    I could afford her purchase price, I had feed and a barn.

    Green on green ruined her and destroyed my confidence as a rider, and also taught me not to be afraid of a horse rearing.

    Now I am very slowly and carefully training her colt, and he's a delight. Very calm, very forgiving.

    But the only other horses I have acess to are incredibly chargy, and ignorant me is trying to fix instead of learn.

  17. I agree that there is a lot to learn from all these different trainers; my problem with NH is the cult they develop. With "traditional" horsemanship, no one ever tells you this is "my special way", or this is "the new way", its just "this is THE way". This makes it very easy to take better advice on board because the next person comes along with a different "THE way" and you think (e.g.) if putting the saddle on first is THE way, and putting the bridle on first is THE way then I can do whatever works best for me, and you think about the advantages and disadvantages, and your particular situation, and you learn.

    If Parelli (for want of a better example) comes along at a clinic and waves his magic carrot stick and shows you how he can have an unbroke horse follow his every whim in half an hour, he is a person you want to take advice from. Then he tells you that traditional horsemanship is cruel and doesn't work and says you have to throw out everything you thought you knew if you want to relate to horses like he does. Unless you already have a lot of your horsey basics in place (and are able to recognise this as just another kind of "THE way") before you encounter this kind of pressure to overhaul all your ideas there is a good chance you will become a follower. Then instead of thinking about what you could do in a particular situation, or asking advice from someone on-hand who can see what is happening, you can only ask yourself WWPD. Given that most of the novices you argue need the clinics can't afford a regular trainer, they definitely aren't likely to be able to pay Pat to come out and assess the situation, so they end up applying his principles.

    For years I didn't understand why everyone didn't have a round pen in the back garden and Monty Roberts all their horses to back them. He presented it as an alternative between join up, or tying to a post and sacking out. At some point my brain engaged and I realised that potentially if you are breaking unhandled 4 year olds that might be close to true, but for the most part in this country your foal will be handled pretty much every day from birth. To take all that handling and then ignore it all once you want to back the horse and begin again from join up might not hurt, but is certainly equivalent to using a sledgehammer to crack a nut, but you can only see that once you have opened your mind to the fact that just because these people can do magic doesn't mean their way is the only way.

  18. Perhaps it's time to drop the "natural horsemanship" label. It doesn't really mean anything anymore... kind of like organic, or environmentalism.

    The fact that there are so many (vulnerable) new horse owners out there means (to me) that the sellers of training methods have an even bigger responsibility to behave with integrity.

    And maybe whenever someone says they have the best / right / one and only way to train horses... when the leader of a movement / theory / ideology can't or won't allow that there are other points of view besides their own, it's probably time to head the in other direction?!

  19. Here's the thing. ALL trainers try to keep their clients.
    Not just NH'ers.
    The only way they can share is "their way," it's also how they put dinner on the table.
    Let's not kid ourselves and pin it all on the clinicians.
    It's the giant crowds of glassy eyed followers that freak me out.
    And that, comes to settle on the shoulders of those who choose to blindly follow.
    Church, politics,shoot, go ahead and toss in the Ku Klux Klan, following without thought makes me very uneasy.

  20. I feel your pain. I've been a weightlifter for over 30 years. (Yes, I'm female) That's long before weight lifting evolved into the cottage industry that it is today. Lifting, however, never changed. What DID change is that now every Tom, Dick and Harry is "teaching" (leading, instructing, call it whatever you like) people how to "do" something that doesn't necessarily need to be "taught" AND (and this is the clincher) they are making money doing it. Lot's of money.

    Back when this evolution first started I was in the right position to jump on the guru bandwagon, but I passed because I couldn't understand why knowledge that was mentored to me and could be gleaned just by watching others with more experience needed to be bought and paid for? It's the same knowledge, just packaged in a way that creates an income for the person delivering the message. And while I was pleased that more people were being drawn into the sport I loved, it sickened me to watch it fracture into different camps of the "right" (and wrong) way of doing things.

    It was no mistake that this happened right around the time the Internet exploded onto the scene. In some ways, that was good; it made information readily available to those who might not have access to mentors. But on the other hand, the Internet is pretty much to blame for allowing anyone with a keyboard and a connection to package and "sell" their knowledge. And that has led to the ruin of weightlifting as a "sport." Now, health and fitness are little more than a huge, income-generating business machine. People follow this guru or that who oftentimes (like the NH gurus) don't have much (if any) real world experience, they just have great marketing skills. (Read as: they figured out how to sell their crap first, earning them the right to be called gurus.)

    Part of the problem (and again, I see similarities in the Horsaii world) is that few people today see the learning process as an important, even necessary part of the journey. Instead, people have been led to think that the "right" information will help them arrive at the destination as quickly as possible and if they don't, then they've somehow failed abysmially. Unfortunately, this mindset has reduced the learning curve to little more a "formula" to get from point A to point Z as rapidly as possible, eliminating the need to learn several valuable lessons along the way.

    Are there any good weightlifting teachers or mentors out there? You bet! But few are writing books, selling DVDs or doing clinics. Quietly, one person at a time, they're helping people improve their training skills. Heck, most don't even maintain a website because they'll be the first to tell you they don't have anything to "sell." Mentoring is their way of giving back to the sport they love, not milking it for a living. Meanwhile, the folks who are trying to buy their way up the fitness ladder are suffering from paralysis from over-analysis and information overload; another affliction the the horsaii and lifting worlds have in common.

  21. I was the owner of a horse that dumped me. Often. He was not a good match for me, or vice versa. I was in my late forties, with kids and a time-consuming stressful job. I heard about NH. I spent mucho money. I got their DVDs.
    Trying to wade thru a DVD explaining to adults how to move a rope on a stick finished me. I do not have ADHD. I do have a brain. I do not have that much patience for stupid human stuff.
    But what really got me was the email and print marketing. Basically, ad after ad, encouraging me to buy this DVD set, this other DVD set. All the solution to my problems. All by the NH marketing machine. I know when I am being bilked. I also know when someone is more concerned with their pocketbook then my horse, or me.

  22. Sometimes those of us who are Horsaii forget that not everyone immerses themselves in "all that is horse". They pick it up as a habit, kinda like learning to play a guitar, and they get the lesson plans and progress (or not).. they are not interested in anything outside of their selected area of interest: reining, dressage, gaming.. they don't really care who the Father of Horsemanship was, they don't know who Alec and The Black are or Misty of Chincoteague because they did not "live" is.. they just ride a reining horse. I am not saying that you learn from the Black Stallion books.. I am saying that you do learn from watching, reading, listening to hundreds of people involved with horses no matter if they are talking about Olympic jumping or draft horse pulling. Somewhere in that conversation might be one little gem of information that you put away for another day. Those of us who live and breathe horses don't discriminate about information, we either agree, disagree or file it away for further study.. I won't say that everyone I have encountered in the last 50 years has left me with something valuable, but I wouldn't ignore them on the off chance that they might share a good point.. to that end, I saw Parelli before he was "PARELLI" and he spoke at the NFR as a fundraiser for Justin Sports Medicine.. he talked about tension in the rider and how it effected the horse .. his correlation was the spot below a cats tail as it walked away.. I will never forget that and have used it to help riders relax, it gives them a place to start if you must :)

    Bottom line, while I think anything even remotely related to horses is worth reading/watching/listening to.. a new rider often is caught up in the hype of a "godlike" trainer.. you can be most helpful when you are there to help them with the answers that are not on the latest DVD

  23. You might be interested in a new book by Martin Black

    We are raising a new generation of spoon fed video junkies that are not gaining real world skills in listening, seeing, and interacting with sentient beings. Its becoming very sad as that generation grows up and gets into positions of supposed leadership.


  24. We have become a nation of sheople. Tell us something is new, improved, expanded, better, shinier we buy it no questions asked.

    And if we are told we can fix ALL our problems with with a 30 minute DVD, or a youtube video well guess what the sheople it then dust off their hands and say, 'that's it....I'm an expert!'

    There are a whole lot of sheople that don't want to think anymore or take the time to become good at something.

  25. Wait!!!!

    As a new generation defender... my daughter is a musician and horsaii. She works hard to learn by practice, sweat, questions and challenges.

    Many of the young adults I meet are hard working, intelligent, questioning people. They are living in a world that could easily suck them dry of hope, but it doesn't.

    There are some good youngsters out there, they give me hope for the future.

    Plus - most of horse video addicts I know are older.

  26. It would be interesting to correlate horsaii spawn with non-horsaii spawn in their levels of focus, attention, sincerity, communication, and empathy/compassion !


  27. I wasn't saying sheople are of the younger generation, as you stated Mugs, many are my age.

    My boys are not horsaii, but they have their respective hobbies, are good students, respectful, will actually listen to their old momma, and will speak up for themselves....they kind have their own drum beat going which is a good thing.

    At least they received some good DNA from me.......*grins*

    I do miss not having a child that I can share my horsaii self with. But then it is good to get away from all the maleness in my house and go to a place that is 'mine', if that makes sense.

  28. I'm a social worker who does therapy, in particular I work with those struggling with PTSD. It's a pretty hot topic these days with all the military vets coming home. The discussion among therapist regarding what type of technique to use to treat this problem is very similar to the debate regarding NH. Actually, there are lots of comparisons between therapy and horse training, but I won't bore everyone with details.

    My take is I'm not going to spend any money or TIME on something that hasn't been proven. I'm not going to do anything that may hurt if I'm not trained correctly. If my technique isn't working, I'm going to change it up. When I need help, I'll ask. I'm not going to get certified in anything cause it's a money making scheme. I' m going to be quiet and listen. I'm going to pay attention to emotions and body language. I'm going to show that I understand them. I'm going to set strict limits. I'm going to ask for small steps.

    If you're wondering whether I'm talking about therapy or horses, it's both. I'm not a seasoned horse person, but I'm a pretty good therapist and my horses have made me a better one. I've had my NH moments, now I pay attention to my horse and what works. I also have a friend with 30 years of experience helping me with my 5 year old cow bred filly. This is a whole different challenge as I have only had a pleasure horse before. I've come off and at 48 I don't bounce so much, but it's all good.

    Another one to add to the above list regarding therapists--never listen to anyone that has written a weight loss book.

  29. I was lucky to have found mentors in my youth. I was lucky to have bent taken under their wings. I learned all I could from them.

    I don't think I can ever repay them.

    But now the thing is, and I apologize if this goes slightly off topic -- I have to be paid.

    It sounds greedy and harsh, but it's the way it is. I decided to spend the time and money to go through a certification program (Ontario Equestrian Federation, a provincial organization, rather than a "NH" or brilliant marketing plan system). I worked for it. I had horses and ponies my whole life before that.

    I now have three horses, two of which I got specifically for what they can provide as lessons horses.

    If, when my 21 gelding died 7 years ago, I wasn't planning to become an instructor, I would not have bought potential lessons horses. I would have gotten a pony or a mini, or even a goat, to keep my little mare company. If the little mare had been a pet, things would be different. I wouldn't have three horses. I wouldn't have to feed and vet three horses.

    But I do. And I have to charge a price for my knowledge in order to keep this thing going. And yeah, I'd like to be able to buy shoes for my kids too while I'm at it.

    I want to share my love of horses! While I'm teaching people how to ride, I want to teach people how to relate to these strange animals and how unique they are and what they can teach us.

    What I've discovered is that I have to market myself. I have to be a good person in the community. I have to watch what I say on the internet, and dress well for lessons, and put up good looking flyers on the bulletin board at the grocery store. I look at my beat up pickup truck and worry about what it says about me. I'm paranoid about every pile of poop in the barnyard.

    That's the way it is, but you know, I don't mind. I love my job. I love when a rider leaves for the day obviously happy and confident and wants to come back for more. I love the idea of creating and encouraging more "Horsaii!"

    (darnit mugs, I always leave these long comments and I'm sorry for rambling!!!)

  30. Heidi, you're not rambling at all, this is a subject very near and dear to me.
    Trainers and instructors have to make money.
    They can't save every horse, they can't mentor for free.
    There are different directions to go with. I got started when somebody said, "Will you ride my horse for me? I'll pay you."
    It went from there.
    Then there's the people who truly believe they can become legit by following the methods of some of the clinicians (and they often can).
    You can go to school, apprentice, on and on, but it comes down to one thing, how can I make a living at this?

  31. Yes and that's why I tend not to have a harsh attitude towards the trainers who've developed a marketable system. I think they have good intentions and good for them if they can make a living at it.

    Having said that, I don't follow any of them. I've done some reading and gotten some really good insight from them. And I have a hell of a lot to learn yet.

    Luckily I've got three horses who have a lot to teach me.

  32. It's weird. Horse trainers become like universities, and the alumni are very obnoxious.

    I have learned a great deal in the last three years, mostly about myself. I learned from five different trainers, all with something I could use on the journey.

    I wonder who the next five will be.

  33. I think that the "NH" label is somewhat of a misnomer. Sure, everything we do with horses can be considered "unnatural," but to me it comes down to how things are communicated best for the learning process to be successful. I learn most naturally by reading while others need visual instruction, and some must actually repeat doing something over and over in order to learn well. Horses are no different. Some respond to conditioning, others need to be shown once, and others still need tons of patient instruction. The willingness to change how something is taught, and tailoring it to how your horse learns best is , to me, the true test of natural horsemanship. Not round pens, carrot sticks and speschul majik rope halters tied by a big name clinician. Tools are tools, and if we subscribe to only one way of achieving a goal then we become the biggest tools of all.