Natural Horsemanship

By Will Clinging - When I started out with horses it was as a working cowboy. The horses I rode all belonged to the ranch I worked for and I thought because I made my living on the back of a horse that I was a good rider. The horses I rode were for the most part considered “broke.”

Jonathan Field, horse riding stop, horse whoa, horse hault, One Rein Bend to the Stop, Disengaging horse's Hindquarters, Two-Rein Stop, horse riding Jonathan Field

What makes a great stop? A great stop is when you can ride at the gallop in any location and simply relax, let your breath out, and your horse responds by quickly coming down to the stop, both physically and mentally, just off your seat.

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One of the first things I teach all of my horses is to move sideways willingly from the ground and while riding. These lateral exercises are beneficial for every discipline as they teach your horse to become flexible through the hindquarters and shoulders, and more balanced and athletic. Sideways will stretch and strengthen the horse in ways that moving straight will not. It is like yoga for horses!

This article focuses on the very basics of daily care and handling. These are daily rituals that will change the way your horse looks at you and, more importantly, change the way you look at your horse. I picked these specific exercises because they are things that are done every single day.

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All of these things, tangible and intangible, share a common element: they are stress factors that affect the horse mentally and physically. The horse’s ability to cope with stress will either speed up or slow down the training process.

By Will Clinging - I recently taught a lesson for new clients who described their horse as being “evergreen,” a term that is fitting for many horses that don’t seem to progress. There are obviously many factors to consider when judging a horse’s progress, or lack thereof, including the amount of time spent working the horse, training methods employed, experience and expectations of the rider, confidence of the rider, and too many others to list.

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There is much debate about round pens and their use. I believe most of the debate stems from the misuse of the round pen rather than good round penning practices. The round pen is a valuable training tool if used correctly.