top of page
Fortune01.JPG

What Is Natural Horsemanship

First of all, lets accept that there is nothing “natural” about a prey/predator relationship; that is to say unless the predator is eating the prey animal, as nature intended. Nothing we do with horses is “natural” and least of all riding! Remember the next time you ride, the only time a wild horse would have something on its back is when it is fighting for its life, or for mares during the breeding season.

Natural Horsemanship is a philosophy of working with horses based on the horse's natural instincts and methods of communication, with the understanding that horses do not learn through fear, intimidation and pain, but rather through psychology, body language and partnership. It is, therefore, more natural to the horse and his way of thinking. Hence the term ‘Natural’ Horsemanship and refers to a more ethical way of training horses.
It is our job as the teacher, to see things from our students (the horse!) perspective and to teach in the best way that he is able to understand. Working with the horses' mind and spirit in a partnership rather than just forcing his body as was the more traditional way.

There is no mysticism, no magic, or only one method in the realm of good horsemanship…It’s knowing that everything you think you know about horses may change with the very next horse.
~ Tom Dorrance


The most common method of training with Natural Horsemanship utilises a pressure and release system. This may be either physical or mental pressure applied to the animal in order for it to perform a task. It is imperative to understand that it is the pressure that motivates the horse but it is the release of the pressure that the animal will actually learn from. Therefore good timing and feel are essential to this method.

In the world of science, this method is known as Negative Reinforcement ( N+).
That is not to say that negative reinforcement is bad! Reinforcement should always be a positive experience for the animal. On the opposite side of the training scale we have positive and negative Punishment. (These methods have been proven less ethical and much less successful when training horses).

In the case of Negative Reinforcement, the word "Negative" is referring to the mathematical term, as in to subtract, or take something away. Usually something uncomfortable or otherwise unpleasant (pressure in this case) is taken away in response to a stimulus. Over time, the target behaviour should increase with the expectation that the unpleasant thing will be taken away. In the case of using N+ with horses, that simply refers to the commonly used pressure/release training system. If you use pressure/release with your horses you are training via Negative Reinforcement (N+)!

Horses are truly amazing animals, to accept us, their natural enemies, willingly into their lives and hearts as partners. We owe it to them to do the best we possibly can for them.
Note I say partners... not prisoners! Look around you at the next horse event you attend and see if you can identify the horses that are truly partners with their humans, and those that are unwilling, enslaved prisoners. You will begin to see the difference between true natural horsemanship and…the other kinds.

The horse does one of two things.
He does what he thinks he’s supposed to do,
or he does what he thinks he needs to do to survive.
~ Ray Hunt

Fly19.jpg

What Is positive reinforcement training (R+)

The use of Positive Reinforcement training within the horse world is relatively new. 

Positive reinforcement training uses a reward (treats, praise, rest, scratches, anything the horse finds rewarding) in exchange for performing desired behaviours. Because the reward makes them more likely to repeat the behaviour, positive reinforcement is one of the most powerful tools for shaping or changing behaviour.

Using R+ with my horses has taken my relationship and success to the next level. Instead of just being relaxed and accepting as they were with pressure/release (N+) alone, they’re actually lit up, more willing, more enthusiastic. They LOVE training. They go above and beyond, pushing themselves to new limits for the joy of learning and connecting with me. 

Bridge & how R+ works.

It is my opinion that the best success in horse training comes from the combination of both N+ and R+ training methods bundled together under the term most commonly used for ethical horse training as 'Natural Horsemanship'. This combination of training is what we focus on at Pure Meadows Farm.

There is no mysticism, no magic, or only one method in the realm of good horsemanship…It’s knowing that everything you think you know about horses may change with the very next horse.
~ Tom Dorrance


Horses are truly amazing animals, to accept us, their natural enemies, willingly into their lives and hearts as partners. We owe it to them to do the best we possibly can for them.
Note I say partners... not prisoners! Look around you at the next horse event you attend and see if you can identify the horses that are truly partners with their humans, and those that are unwilling, enslaved prisoners. You will begin to see the difference between true natural horsemanship and…the other kinds.

The horse does one of two things.
He does what he thinks he’s supposed to do,
or he does what he thinks he needs to do to survive.
~ Ray Hunt

26814815_396650427454192_497538157912126
Fortune02.JPG
Fortune03.JPG
Fagan016.jpg
Fortune008.jpg
Coco05.jpg
Woody26.JPG
Wirrin001.jpg
037.jpg

Training Philosophy

All PMF horses are selected for their exceptional temperaments, quality conformation and ability to perform and are trained using Natural Horsemanship methods.

I believe all horses should have a very well-rounded education and incorporate elements from many disciplines into my training. All my horses enjoy the many benefits of being raised, and living in natural herd environments, allowing them to grow and learn from their peers, including the senior stallions.

PMF horses begin their basic training at a young age, gifting them with a solid foundation of Natural Horsemanship and groundwork training which provides them with fundamental skills to set them up for success throughout their lives, no matter where their hooves may lead them.

To me, this begins with the relationship between horse and human. I believe in starting a horses' education so gently that he doesn't even know that he's being trained!

Pure Meadows babies learn very early in life that humans are a good thing, bringers of scratches and treats, encouraging them to become more trusting and confident around people, thus creating an everlasting bond between horse and human.

Official training starts as soon as the individual horse shows that he is confident enough within himself. It is very common for PMF babies to naturally learn basic skills such as back up, yield forequarters & hindquarters, lead backwards by the tail and to pick up their feet, at liberty in the paddock, and all before weaning, while they are still at their mothers side. Skills such as these are invaluable and will become staple throughout a horse's education, just like learning like his ABC's.

Each horse develops and progresses at his or her own rate and this is foremost in my mind when considering the horse’s education. I gradually build upon each horses' knowledge base as he is ready, and not a minute before. Please note that we under no exception will I force a horses education if he is not ready.

When you purchase a foal from Pure Meadows, you can be certain that he will have had the absolute best I have been able to offer throughout his life with me. Although at times, I may experience time restraints due to busy breeding schedule, and work life, I endeavour that all my horses have a basic skill set before they leave the farm, including but not limited to;

  • Confidence in being handled all over

  • Acceptance of the halter

  • Leading from the halter and shoulder

  • Forequarter and hindquarter yields

  • Back up from halter, nose and chest

  • Pick up all four feet for trimming

  • Experience with a horse trailer

  • And tie up

29425557_423001831485718_697398065185056

Foundation Before Specialization

It is paramount that people truly begin to understand just how important foundation is. Foundation IS the beginning. It IS the building blocks for a life of success. You cannot expect your horse to perform in any kind of competition without good solid foundation training. It’s like trying to learn to run without first learning to walk; like trying to read a book without knowing your ABC’s. All horses require a certain level of foundation training before they are able to perform at higher levels.
Know that ANY kind of sport or competition you choose to do, be it, Dressage, Jumping, Cross country, Mountain Trail, Liberty & Trick Training, Pony Club, Adult riders, In Hand or Hack Showing, Anything that requires a level of mental collection or physical performance… is Specialisation!
Foundation must always come first. Lack of solid foundation training lands horses in terrible and sometimes dire circumstances.

PMF foundation training sets Pure Meadows horses apart from its competitors. I am proud to offer horses that are set up for success in the real world from day one. Gifting them with a solid foundation and providing fundamental skills to set them up for success, throughout their lives, no matter which direction their performance careers may follow.


As such, I am thrilled to also offer my training services to outside horses, including;

Foundation Training

  • Relationship Building (learning to trust)

  • Basic Groundwork

  • Saddle Prep

  • Saddle Training (walk & trot)

  • Problem Horses


Specialisation

  • Mountain Trail & Obstacle Training & Trail Riding

  • Liberty & Trick Training

Training Details

  • Training is charged per working week, and is subject to weather conditions.

  • Horses are worked 5 of 7 days with rest days spaced between for the horses benefit.

  • Please contact me for extend stay prices, rugging or extra feed requirements.

If you have any questions about exactly what is involved in training please don’t hesitate to contact me. You are most welcome to visit and watch your horses training sessions, however, no specific questions about the training process will be answered. Please book a lesson if you wish to learn my natural horsemanship methods, I am more than happy to teach you along side your horse!

bottom of page