What we believe about teaching horses…

Picture of Jim Rea with two horses

Jim Rea, CNHC Director with (L-R) Rogers & Sugar, two calm & gentle horses who are the result of natural horsemanship training techniques.

The object of natural horsemanship training is to get the horse to do what we want it to do, when we want it to do it. We use respect, communication and trust rather than fear and intimidation to advance that goal for horse and rider and to accomplish it all safely!

  • We prefer to create a respectful relationship between ourselves and the horse rather than having a relationship where we always dominate and the horse always submits.
  • The horse knows all the things we want it to do, we don’t teach it anything new. We only teach horses to do the things it already knows, at the moment we want them to do it.
  • We believe horses have a highly developed sense of what is fair and what is not.
  • The horse should have the opportunity to have his say.
  • All of our relationships with people and horses are based on respect. Sometimes you have to give respect in order to get respect, other times you have to demand respect and settle for nothing less.
  • If you are being unsuccessful teaching your horse, the first thing to look at is whether the horse understands what you want, next examine whether you are providing leadership and whether there is an appropriate level of respect between you.
  • Horses look for reliable leaders.
  • Horses live in the moment.
  • When you get on a horse, they read your mind and they read your butt. They know whether you are comfortable or uncomfortable, how much you have ridden and who is going to be in charge of the ride that day.
  • Horses are natural followers who look for leaders. If we don’t lead, the horse will.
  • Your horse won’t know what you want him to do unless you have a clear picture in your mind as to what it is you want.
  • Horses are individuals, what works with one may not work on the next; we have to be flexible in our approach. If one technique doesn’t work don’t push it, try something else.
  • We try for clear communication with the horse about what we want. If the horse is unclear and makes guesses about what we want we don’t punish him for making a guess that is not what we want. We want to encourage him to use his mind.
  • Sometimes you just have to stop and let what you are asking the horse to learn soak in.
  • Make sure to praise the horse when he has done what you want him to do.
  • Know when to stop.
  • There comes a point where the horse has learned all he can learn in that session, find a place where both you and the horse have been successful and stop.
  • Horses don’t have the same sense of time we do, the horse doesn’t care if you have an appointment later, or if the pot roast needs to go in the oven at a certain time.
  • To successfully teach horses we need to work on horse time not our time.
  • Setting overall goals for you and your horse is appropriate. When you set very specific goals for an individual teaching session you are setting yourself, and your horse, up for failure.
  • The highest form of horsemanship is when the horse follows a feel, which you create. In other words, the horse follows with his mind, what YOU have visualized in your mind.


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