‘Horsemanship’ means the art or skill of caring for and riding horses.

Michelle Dennis of Firehorse Inspirations practices good horsemanship.
Michelle Dennis of Firehorse Inspirations practices good horsemanship.

So accordingly, I define good and natural horsemanship as “the care, training, and riding of horses in harmony with their natural behavior, diet, movement, and physical wellbeing.”

This means that someone truly practicing good and natural horsemanship will be doing the following things:

  • They will understand or be learning about horse psychology and social systems (ethology).
  • They will provide a herd situation for the horses to live in – other equine companions they can touch (no isolation from others), with natural breeding and weaning practices.
  • They will keep the horse in as large an area as possible for most of the time with access to shelter from all types of weather – no constant stabling, small paddocks, or confinement to yards for more than a couple of hours at a time unless absolutely necessary (eg. severe injury).
  • They will be feeding a varied diet of horse suitable (low sugar) grass, hay, and grain (when required) with correct mineral supplementation to balance any deficiencies – including providing salt at all times.
  • They will care for their hooves with barefoot trimming and/or enough movement to self-trim, and using hoof boots when protection is needed – no metal horseshoes!
  • They will provide appropriate veterinary treatment, including worming on a regular basis as required for the man-made environment they must live in.
  • They will train/educate the horse in a compassionate, respectful way that gives them confidence and allows them to move freely as nature intended – no bits, spurs, other equipment, or methods that compromise the horse’s ability to perform at their best.

To find horsemanship programs I recommend please read the post ‘How Can I Learn Better Horsemanship?’

The following articles explore aspects of training and riding horses while their care is covered under the Horse Care menu at the top of this page.

Horsemanship Articles

Safely tying your horse Tips for tying your horse safely - Tying a horse safely is a basic horsemanship skill, but there’s more to it than fastening your rope around the handiest object. Here are some important tips on what to do, and what to avoid. Do’s for Tying Horses Use a long enough rope (10 to 12 feet is standard) in good condition. A good [...]
Karine Van den borre My favourite horsemanship blogs - There is so much advice available online that it’s sometimes hard to know which horsemanship blogs to follow. I subscribe to quite a few and these are some of my favorites for working ‘with’ horses using methods that are generally positive and considerate of the horse’s needs and feelings. To get off to the best [...]
Jenny Pearce – Happiness and Wellbeing for Horse and Rider - I recently re-connected with Jenny Pearce, a friend from way back, a healer extraordinaire and a fantastic teacher. Jenny’s passion for helping people and horses was  so evident during our conversation that as I learned more about what she is now teaching, I’m inspired to share her gifts and wisdom. As an example, watch and read [...]
How do you approach your horse training? - I have just read a book by notable dog trainer, Harrison Forbes called ‘Dog Talk‘, and I liked his perspective on training methods so much I wanted to share it. In quoting Harrison – I’ve put ‘horse’ in brackets to help you visualise better. “Instead of watching their dogs (horses), I find people are watching a [...]
CAT for Horses - By Laurel Gordon Based on a definition of CAT-H by Dolores Arste and Kellie Snyder. While working on her Master’s thesis, behavioural science student Kellie Snyder noticed that positive reinforcement methods like clicker training, or giving food treats, didn’t work so well on animals when there was a lot of fear involved. With the help [...]
How to help your herd bound horse - by Cynthia Cooper Often referred to as being ‘barn sour’ or rushing home, the herd bound horse just wants to stay near the barn or get home and back to their mates as fast as possible. It can turn in to a frustrating or dangerous situation, especially if you’re out on the trail and lose [...]
Leadership with horses - by Cynthia Cooper Natural Horsemanship has increased our awareness of relationships with horses – the terms partnership, respect, leader, alpha etc. have become common but their meaning can be as varied as the meaning we give to those terms in our human relationships. Good Leadership is recognised as being an essential part of the equation. [...]
Horsemanship Keys to Success for Hoof Trimmers - by Cynthia Cooper These key points apply to many situations other than hoof trimmming – for example when you are grooming. saddling, washing, providing vet treatment or just teaching them to tie up. 1. Keep the horse as close to its comfort zone (herd or friend) as possible – usually just the other side of [...]
Poor thing with rugs Changing Tack Will Reduce Cruelty to Horses - How many people have you seen take out their anger and frustration on their horse/dog/partner? We’ve probably all been guilty of it at some time or other, I know I have in the past but like to think I have learned more patience and self control through the study of natural horsemanship which enables me [...]
Principle to Purpose - THE SLED By Paul and Karen Lockwood. I was talking with Ron Morgan from TMCA one day and he mentioned having to get a load of roofing iron up onto the February Plain to re-roof Basil’s Hut. He could get the iron to within 1 km of the hut but it was then a fairly [...]
Good Horsemanship is …. COMMONSENSE or HORSE SENSE - Commonsense often comes from experience so here’s some you can learn from without having to make the mistake. If you’re not sure about something, check with your instructor first. Always wrap your loose reins around the top of the neck near the ears whenever you are off the horse to ensure he doesn’t step in [...]
How Can I learn Better Horsemanship? - The first way is to become a student of the horse. Learn to observe, learn to read horse body language, and then listen to what your horse is trying to tell you. Always ask yourself are you doing this FOR the horse or TO the horse. Read a lot (especially the books listed here), watch [...]
Horses running Horsemanship - What is Natural Horsemanship? The term ‘Natural Horsemanship’ has almost become over-used these days because ‘going natural’ is the thing to do! While there are some true practitioners around keeping it as close to natural as they can for the horse, there are just as many professing to practice natural horsemanship but not coming close [...]
Wrangler Jayne’s Horsemanship With Heart Program - This set of four DVD’s comes in 2 packs – Essentials One and Two, and is highly explanatory and detailed. With several different horses Jayne shows the foundations of trust, confidence and respect – the cornerstones of a successful relationship with your horse. It is an excellent demonstration of ‘getting to know you’ ground skills, [...]
Firehorse Inspirations with Michelle Dennis - This is a DVD that challenges us to think about what we do with horses, and why, and poses the question ‘What’s in if for the horse?’ Michelle and her team of horses, ponies, and donkeys give you a more than a glimpse at the possibilities when you take the time to really listen to [...]
Attitude is Everything - The way we think about our horses influences the way we act. This in turn results in either a great equine relationship or one that needs some improvement. The first step to improving our way of thinking is choosing the words we use when talking to, or about our equines. Referring to them by name [...]
Two New Books - For some good holiday reading there are two books I’m going to recommend for those lazy days in the sun or in front of the fire – depending on which hemisphere you’re in! Guiding Principles to Natural Horse Care – Powerful concepts for a healthy horse By Stephanie Krahl This easy to read E-book is well [...]
Advantages of You Versus a Trainer - I’ve had a few conversations with horse owners about whether its better to have their horse started under saddle or re-started/trained by a trainer or themselves. While I’m not having a go at ‘trainers’ here, my suggestion is always going to be biased towards what’s best for the horse overall. So the answer as to [...]
Inspiration - Mutual Trust Friendship Training More information available from: Charles H. (Chuck) Mintzlaff
Inspiration - Nirvana – a Rocky Mountain horse showing his reportiore – looks like a nice combination of Parelli and Nevzarov. His owner Laurie Neron lives in Quebec, Canada and is a photographer who says she has been inspired by Parelli, Nevzarov, Monty Roberts and others.
Product News - Beeswax now available in the store This block of pure beeswax is ideal for the treatment of seedy toe. Use it to plug the holes where you’ve dug out infection, after applying Bug Buster or any other treatment. It’s perfect for keeping the dirt out of the hole, while keeping the treatment in, and will stay [...]
Finding that Friendship Spot - Last month I talked about being friends first with your horse and how ‘peer attachment’ is an important concept and part of the Friendship Training Program. “Mutual grooming is one of the most important acts for cementing the relationship between two horses …. It is an indicator of the strongest bond within an equine family [...]
Bitless News - Bitless Basics Overview Video Parts of the presentation I did on Bitless Riding at Agfest last month were filmed and photographed (thanks Saskia and Nikki) and I’ve put together a sample of some Bitless Basics to give a brief overview of some of the things you can teach your horse. Basics like lateral flexion, hindquarter [...]
Book Review - Beyond the Dream Horse – by Michael Bevilacqua I’m so glad I was loaned this book to read as it defines not only where I’m going with my horsemanship, but where the next level of horsemanship begins. I love it. As the subtitle says, “it is a revealing perspective on attaining a true relationship. It describes how [...]
Lets be Friends First - While most people would like to think they are friends with their horse, and many know that being friendly with your horse is the first step in any horsemanship program, few realise just how far you can develop that friendship. One horsemanship program that bases its philosophy on the unique bonds horses form with each [...]
Horsemanship - Teaching in the Way of The horse I came across this excellent article about developing courage in the horse. It is written by  Paul Dufresne , who says “Developing a trusting relationship with your horse by proving that you are a safe leader will help you to overcome situations where your horse may become fearful. [...]
New Online Magazine - A seed was planted about 9 months ago to develop an online publication that brings like minded horse people, trainers, therapists, artists and self development coaches together to help “Change the conversation we have with our horses” and hopefully improve the conversations we have with ourselves. Mindset is everything when it comes to horses and [...]
Friendship Training -   Founder of this unique method of ‘training yourself so your horse can understand you’ Chuck Mintzlaff, found my website and suggested a link. As I’m naturally cautious about recommending products, people and methods I decided to thoroughly research Friendship Training to find out if it was as good as it sounds. So much of this [...]
Horsemanship - HORSE AGILITY In only a few weeks this incredibly exciting horse sport has gone from being virtually unknown to having a strong following in Australia. Like the better-known dog agility, horse agility involves horses moving about a course of obstacles including bending poles, ramps, bridges, tunnels and even hoops. It was created by Kalev Tyllinen in [...]

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