· Equestrian,Natural Horsemanship,Horses,Training Methods

How many times have you heard that natural horsemanship is the right way to train horses? Or that self-proclaimed natural horsemen are too easy on their horses? We like to put ourselves in boxes - sticking with an "identity." It's not uncommon to see someone doing something in a different way and thinks that it's wrong. It really goes for everything in the horse world. Think of the barefoot vs. shoes debate and the stalling vs. full time pasture debate.

We spend so much time arguing for our points of view that we forget to take the individual horse in mind. Every horse is different and have different needs. Some horses can't be in a stall without stocking up and other horses much prefer their comfy stall and some horses do best with a mix of both. The same goes for training methods.

"Conventional" horse training methods typically try to make the horse move and learn at the human's pace and oftentimes don't take into account each horse's individuality. At the opposite end of the spectrum is "natural horsemanship" which can often swing towards extreme passiveness.

It's important to find a healthy mix between assertiveness and passiveness. Having a goal but allowing your horse to get there naturally. Balance is important in all aspects of riding from having a balanced horse, to balancing in the saddle, to balancing your training methods and regimen. Spend too long on one aspect and other things will suffer.

Think of any discipline: high level horses did not simply walk into the arena and perform like a dream. Every horse starts out learning how to walk, trot, and canter. Think of jumpers - jumping rounds and rounds aren't going to help anything. Utilizing gymnastic exercises help improve rhythm and balance and can improve your horse's confidence. Even some dressage horses might benefit from these exercises to prevent boredom.

The point is, whether in training theories or application, balance is an important concept in horseback riding. The truth is, there is not one "right" way to train your horse. Listen and think holistically about your horse and its strengths and weaknesses.

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