The Horse Sensible Horsemanship Program
The other day while having lunch with a friend, we were discussing the amazing changes we have seen in our lifetime. Since we are both in our late fifties, it was comical to think back when we were kids watching an old black and white TV, with a choice of four or five channels.
We had one phone in the house that was on a party line with other neighbors, so you had to wait your turn to use the phone. And how I survived my early years without a computer, cell phone, and the many other wonders of today’s technology is beyond me. But somehow I did survive, and now I live a life that is immersed in all of this technology and modernization that experts say makes us more productive, safer, and happier. I guess the jury is out as to whether we are any happier today than back in the sixties, but now that I have dated myself, I am sure you’re not really interested in hearing about how different things are today compared to my early years growing up.
But wait a minute, there is one thing that is different today vs. forty years ago that should be of interest to all of us who interact with horses. I’m talking about the sweeping changes we have seen in the methods many horsemen and horsewomen practice to enhance their relationship and success with horses.
Probably the most popular term describing this approach is “Natural Horsemanship.” As many of you know, the early pioneers of Natural Horsemanship as we know it today were guys like brothers Tom and Bill Dorrance, along with Ray Hunt.
They took a whole new approach to training horses that replaced force and abuse with non-aggressive, non-predatory methods that focused on communication, understanding, and psych-ology. Their methods gave rise to today’s multi-million dollar industry of “Natural Horsemanship” that is practiced by its many disciples in some form or fashion, including the many trainers and clinicians that are now household names to many of us.
So even though today’s technology and modernization may not make us happier, I can guarantee you that there are a lot of us horse enthusiasts, and horses as well, that are much happier due to the positive changes we have seen in how we interact with our horses, via “Natural Horsemanship.”
The term Natural Horsemanship is really a broad term, and there are a lot of different methods and philosophies used by the many trainers and clinicians calling themselves Natural Horsemen or Horsewomen. The common thread among all of these programs is usually a non-predatory approach focusing on the psychology of the horse.
It’s important to recognize that Dorrance and Hunt revolutionized how the masses approach their relationship with horses, and did so by formalizing their techniques. Their philosophies and methods initially made their way to the general public when Ray Hunt started sharing his knowledge via his clinics that he started way back in the early seventies.
As I look back on my early career with horses, I feel very fortunate that I was able to come in contact with some true horsemen and horsewomen that learned from the horse, and practiced many of the methods that are the foundation of my training program. Likewise, I can also reflect on the experiences that were not so positive, and I was able to learn from those as well.
I’ve also been extremely fortunate to have the opportunity to either learn first hand, or study the methods of many of the great “Natural Horsemanship” practitioners including the Dorrances and Ray Hunt. So really, my journey that has led me to where I am today is a culmination of experiences gained from the thousands of horses I have come in contact with, along with the human encounters that include everyone from the old timers to modern day trainers, and the many other folks that I have encountered along the way.
Before we proceed to the next level and beyond in our program, I think you will find it interesting to hear some of my real life stories describing important experiences where I gained valuable knowledge over the years. The knowledge I gained from these experiences not only contributed to my success with horses, but also serves as the foundation for my “Horse Sensible” program. So as the old saying goes, “gather round the transistor my friends, and let me tell you about my journey that has led me to where I am today. Looking back, it’s been a great ride so far and I look forward to continuing my journey through life with family, friends, and horses a priority.
Foundations is available as an ebook from: