Finding “Natural Horsemanship” felt like the best thing I could do for myself and my horse, back when I first became a horse owner in the early 1990s.
I studied at home and at clinics around the Eastern USA for 10 years and then changed my whole life to go away to horsemanship school for the entire year of 2005. I learned to be safe and effective with horses but when I came home, I started to observe things in my herd that were contrary to my horsemanship education.
Little by little from then until now, I discovered that the way of the herd is different than the way of the domestic horse in un-natural environments. And, there is a way to literally be even more natural with horses than the world of Natural Horsemanship.
This whole idea of dominance and submission is not something that you find in the natural world or in congruent herds. This is something we see in herds that are stressed in un-natural environments.
Now stay open-minded here.
I know you can find and see countless you-tube videos and gurus who will prove this theory. I’m sure you’ve seen it in your own pasture. So have I.
However, upon further observation, when I see this dominance, it is demonstrated over limited resources. Limited resources like:
- The hay house
- The hay net or pile
- People, people with treats
- The gate. Because that usually means, horses are coming in to eat concentrates etc.
In the natural world, there literally is no competition for limited resources. The resources are unlimited. Wild herds live on hundreds of thousands of acres of diverse landscape and resources. No one is bringing out piles of hay, no one is bringing all the horses in at 3 PM for their evening meal. No one is separating the horses. (Let’s not get into the Bureau of Land Management here.)
The horses choose their herds.
- If a horse doesn’t want to stay in its current herd, it will take much work on the part of the stallion to keep her. She will leave and go with another herd.
- If the horse is a colt, at a certain age, he will be sent out of his herd and need to find a bachelor herd of stallions in the same boat as him to become part of for safety, companionship and for simulating and working on strength and moves that will help him learn what he needs to learn to one day win over his own band of mares.
When I say to win over, I don’t necessarily mean to compete with other males for the ladies, but also win over the mares hearts and loyalty. When they win the mares hearts and desires, they stay together and aligned based on the want to, not by fence, force, showing them who’s boss, intimidation or bribery.
The whole idea of leadership is also taught like there is an absolute, all the time leader. I disagree.
In the natural world, leadership is shared. Here’s what I mean. Again, stay open-minded here and give this some thought.
The leader is often the one with the most need. For example, in the natural herd (Wild) the one with the most need may be the nursing mare. She needs the most to drink, for herself and her nursing foal so she may “lead” the herd to water, more often. It may occur like she’s the lead mare, however, I have observed my 30″ tall pony “lead” my herd out to the front lawn for lush grazing. Perhaps being old, she has the biggest need for the lush grass because her teeth are old and don’t work as well as when she was young. She has the most need.
So, my observations are that leadership is shared based on need. If, the herd is allowed to live as naturally as possible in captivity. Living together outside 24/7 with food available at all times. This lessens stress on the herd and allows for each individual to be known and their strengths to be discovered, naturally.
It’s based on these observations that I’ve learned we can be more herdlike which is ‘more natural than natural horsemanship’
If you want to discuss this further or learn more about consensual or shared because we care leadership, let’s get on the phone and talk about it! Book your call here.
Yours Truly, In the Company of Horses,
“Changing Lives, One Relationship at a Time”