Natural Horsemanship

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This is the first of a two-part article about a special horse of mine named Bellagio (barn name Geo), a nine-year-old Warmblood gelding I’ve had for about three years. He is super sensitive and doesn’t have a lot of natural confidence. When he came to me he was very explosive, would react at the slightest thing, and was becoming very dangerous to ride. Over the past few years, I have done a lot of different exercises to help build his confidence with anything that is “out of the norm” for him.

Jonathan Field, comfortable canter, training horse canter, canter length, natural horsemanship

By Jonathan Field - Have you ever watched someone riding along on a nice, relaxed, rocking-horse canter and dreamed of one day having your horse canter like that? It’s happened to me. The image of seeing this “dream canter” for the first time remains clear in my mind to this day.

Jonathan Field, herd bound horse, horse training, natural horsemanship, actively helping your horse become calm and relaxed

By Jonathan Field - There are some important concepts to understand when actively helping your horse to become calm and relaxed under your leadership. To actively change behaviour in your horse is to be a part of the process and requires all of your attention with an attitude of empathy towards what your horse is going through.

 training jonathan field, natural horsemanship, trailer loading, load a horse trailer

There are some legitimate reasons why horses do not like horse trailers. To a horse, even the most open, spacious trailer is still a small, confined space. Being a flight animal, nature has wired horses to be claustrophobic in order to protect them from predators. Because trailers are off the ground on wheels, climbing inside is a bit unnerving to a horse as the trailer moves around. Once inside the trailer, horses are further confined with the closing of the divider, and the shutting of the door. Finally, after being locked inside, the trailer starts to move. It bumps along the road, eventually stops, and then the doors are opened, and by this time the horse is thinking “Get me out of here!”

training jonathan field, natural horsemanship, trailer loading, load a horse trailer

When it comes to asking your horse to ride in a trailer, there are many things that can go wrong. Most of these situations present themselves due to the confined space of the trailer. When you think of it from the horse’s perspective, it is no wonder that he might hesitate to climb inside, and therefore not surprising that he might want to fly out backwards like a rocket when the door opens.

jonathan field, natural horsemanship, boxing horses, equine footwork, horse shoulders, horse footwork, natural horsemanship footwork

Spins with Little: The Flower Petal Exercise - In Part 1 of this series (Footwork to Free Up the Shoulders) I wrote about remembering what it is like to be a student, and shared some of my personal trials from joining a boxing club this past winter when I stepped into a completely unknown field. These lessons illustrate that horses benefit when their riders are more patient, just as students benefit when coaches are patient.

will clinging, riding in winter, cold weather riding, will clinging training

When I was younger and hardier I was happy enough to ride in all kinds of weather. If truth be told, I have made my living riding and maybe I felt more obligated to ride rather than being happy to ride. Now that I am a bit older I’ve become a fair weather rider — or at least I’m not an extreme weather rider.

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