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Natural Horsemanship Q:

Understanding Will Natural Horsemanship help my horse and me? And what exactly is it? A: Take this quiz to find out. Circle “Never” (N); “Occasionally” (O); or “Frequently” (F).

1. My horse is hard to catch. N O F 2. My horse turns his rump to me when I go to halter him. N O F 3. My horse pushes me around with his head. N O F 4. My horse tries to put his lips on me. N O F 5. My horse nips or bites. N O F 6. My horse won’t stand still when asked. N O F 7. My horse fidgets while I am grooming. N O F 8. My horse is not cooperative about handling his feet. N O F 9. My horse drags me when I am leading him. N O F 10. My horse bumps me with his shoulder while I am leading him. N O F 11. My horse lags behind me when I am leading him. N O F 12. My horse will not do walk-trot transitions when leading. N O F 13. My horse will drag me to green grass or hay. N O F 14. My horse fidgets while I am saddling. N O F 15. My horse is difficult to bridle. N O F 16. My horse looks for trouble while I am riding him. N O F 17. My horse goes too fast or too slow while I am riding. N O F 18. My horse does not listen to my cues very well. N O F 19. My horse throws his head up. N O F 20. My horse stops or slows down at the gate. N O F 21. My horse doesn’t always go where I point him. N O F 22. My horse jigs and prances nervously at times. N O F 23. My horse spooks. N O F 24. My horse calls to other horses while I am working with him. N O F 25. My horse throws a fit if I try to take him away from the barn/herd. N O F

If you answered NEVER to every question, you are likely already using Natural Horsemanship techniques. If you answered anything other than NEVER, consider taking a look at what Natural Horsemanship is, and what tools and techniques are available to help you. If you answered FREQUENTLY to every question, consider learning more about Natural Horsemanship.

What is Natural Horsemanship? Natural Horsemanship simply means that we know and understand the horse’s instinctive and herd behaviors and that we use that information to develop a willing partnership and communicate with the horse in a way that he understands.

Although the term “Natural horsemanship” is very new, the concepts have been around for centuries, if not millenniums. Brothers Bill and Tom Dorrance of California spawned the current trend toward Natural Horsemanship by influencing subsequent generations of Natural Horsemanship trainers, many of whom have become celebrities and commercial successes because of what they learned from these two masters. There are also many lesser-known trainers practicing Natural Horsemanship who are not celebrities, but are fine trainers in their own right.

What unites all brands of Natural Horsemanship is an understanding of the horse’s natural behavior and the purpose of helping the horse lead a comfortable, willing, and cooperative existence with humans. It begins with a fundamental understanding of what motivates horses and how horses communicate.

Natural Horsemanship is more than just a philosophy; it involves specific training exercises from the ground and from the saddle that develop the horse’s responsiveness and help him look to his handler as a benevolent leader. The horse accepts our authority, wants to be with us, and is eager to please. Through Natural Horsemanship training techniques, the horse learns to feel safe and comfortable with us—safety and comfort are the greatest motivators for the horse. Learn more about Natural Horsemanship training at; click onTraining Library in the Education section.

About the author Julie Goodnight is an internationally respected trainer and clinician with experience in many types of training. Learn more about Julie and her training program at

Julie 30 November-December 2011 | Honest Horses Magazine

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