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Just What is Natural Horsemanship Anyway? Part 3

5/4/2015 Bob Burrelli, Trainer/Clinician


Proper ground work always brings incredible results making the horse supple, bending correctly, and building that relationship so the horse will begin to trust you. When this happens often times un-started horses are saddled and ridden in the first session.

The first rides focus on lateral flexibility with the hindquarter, forequarter, head and neck. What this does for the horse is allow him to move freely through all three gaits using no pressure on his face, using a soft feel. I do all my first rides in a rope halter, no bridle. I frequently use this technique for the first three or four rides, depending on the response of the horse.

From the rope halter, I train the horse to accept a snaffle bit either an egg but or d-ring snaffle. For colts or seasoned horses alike, natural horsemanship focuses on a high degree of lightness to the aids we use, willingness and harmony, and make sure we get a soft response to the bridle, lateral flexibility, and precision.

When riding, the ideal is to signal the horse first with focus and visualization. This is preparing the horse to the right position for the transition. Following up with subtle cues such as increasing the energy of life in your body to the horse’s body to the horse’s feet and only resorting to physical aids meaning a touch of the calf or picking up a slack rein. If the mental connection with the horse was lacking.

I can’t emphasize what I am about to say enough and that is riders of all disciplines, and all previous backgrounds and abilities, “natural horsemanship” emphasizes a very high degree of feel, timing, balance, awareness, especially with release. The goal is to have the ability to ride confidently and in balance on a loose rein, accompanied by proper aides, and appreciation for developing the mind of the horse, not just his body.

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