Friday, October 21, 2016
What's In a Name: Natural Horsemanship, Country Music, Ham?
It is the ultimate problem with language and labeling. If I am to communicate effectively with you what I say does not matter. The test is what you hear.
When I was in high school it was nearly a scandal that I liked country music and detested the inane babble that at that time was pop and rock music. In fact, I was the only person my age that I knew who admitted to listening to country radio.
High school students today think that they love country music. They must love country music. They listen to it all the time. Of course, what they listen too has nothing in common with actual country music that I listened to in the 1970's and everything in common with the inane babble of 1970's pop and rock music.
But is it labeled as country music.
What is today known as ham is a watery, bland slice of pinkish colored meat like substance. Many people who love what is now called ham shriek and run in terror from actual salted, smoked ham. The only thing that they have in common is that real ham was produced from real hogs who lived on real dirt. Today's ham is made from hog like looking machines who live in cages in factory farms.
But is labeled as ham.
And so it is with natural horsemanship. Real natural horsemanship is a system of training and relating to horses using techniques and body language that mimic herd behavior that are instinctively understood by horses. It is rooted in the horse's desperate need to feel secure and lead. The two are inextricably aligned. A horse, like all other prey animals who live in herds, cannot feel secure without the knowledge that it is in the presence of a leader.
But there was a fortune to be made by pretending that frivolous music with meaningless lyrics actually is country music. The market for "ham" skyrocketed when the bland tastes of city people were exposed to slippery slices of watery discs that were marketed as "ham." And so it has become for some versions of "natural horsemanship."
Some money can be made by teaching the infinitely rewarding path of slowly being able to reach a horse's heart by understanding its mind. However, much more money can be made by appealing to the weakness in humans that causes us to celebrate rank failure as success.
Teaching that the horse gets to make the decisions, that showing the horse leadership is unnatural bullying, that the video buyer's complete lack of success in training is proof that they are succeeding and letting the horse learn at its own pace,and that being happy with total failure to progress in the horse's training shows patience. All of this marketing gives the "trainers" a warm feeling of moral superiority to others who actually teach horses to become confident and secure.
But such techniques are labeled as natural horsemanship.
Failed training is not a virtue. Spoiling a horse and causing it to be a dangerous, unhappy, fearful creature is not natural horsemanship.
We train with 51% control and 49% affection. We do not try to teach horses to speak English. We teach people to use their bodies and minds to learn to speak horse. That is the beginning, middle and end of natural horsemanship.
We teach natural horsemanship to create better horses, but much more importantly, we teach natural horsemanship to create better people.
The picture above is Lloyd and Burns Red In The Sun. His father is the Bacca stallion, El Rosio. Before this picture was taken Lloyd spent some time moving the colt in the round pen, teaching him to respond to pressure from a lariat and eventually haltering him. The colt resisted every step in varying degrees. The end result is a colt who felt secure and completely safe in Lloyd's presence. Lloyd controlled the colt and rewarded him with a great deal of affection. That is natural horsemanship at its best.
In fact, that is the only thing that actually is natural horsemanship.
Posted by Steve Edwards