Natural horsemanship is pretty much what the words suggest: a natural gift for working with horses. I have lived with horses for most of my life, and I had frequent occasion to be awed by the almost seamless bonding some riders seem to enjoy with their steeds. I used to hear other people expound about natural horsemanship, and while each of them seemed to put his or her own slant on it, the basic skills that constituted natural horsemanship could not be anything but the same for everyone. A lot of trainers claim to be able to install something akin to natural horsemanship in their students, but if you were to observe closely, you would find that all of them have different approaches to the same basics. That is not meant to be a disparaging remark, because a lot of the trainers I know are absolutely devoted horse persons, who take pride in instilling good horse sense in their students.
I would define the primary characteristic of natural horsemanship as the ability of both rider and horse to communicate with each without resorting to oral or body language. It struck me all of a sudden one day, while I was mucking around in my horse’s stall, that natural horse sense is in a way divinely inspired horse sense.
I suppose it was based on my church-going childhood, and my remembrances of Gen.1:24-25, which talks about God creating horses; Gen.1:26 that deals with God’s creation of mankind and Gen.2:19-20 where God allows man to name the animals.
What makes people identify with horses so much? What makes some people such wonderful horse persons? Why do some people have the ability to train horses and human students just the way they want, like they have some kind of a direct connection to the brain instead of to the ears and the eyes?
I think the divine part comes because of these assets: the abilities to communicate with God and God’s creatures, including the horse. My relationships with my horses have given me so much that is precious in life, and have taught me a lot about life and divinity and the need to constantly improve myself.
At the end of the day, it boils down to this: God works to build our trust in him and we work to build our horses’ trust in ourselves. God puts us through stress (rarely in excess of what we can cope with); when we have had enough, we surrender to him and look to him to guide us. As a horse trainer, I too put my horses under stress of learning (rarely testing their tolerance capacities) until they surrender and learn to let me guide them.
The horses, too, have taught me lessons. They have taught me that if you don’t have man made blinkers on, you will be able to see all human beings as equal to each other, irrespective of race, colour, wealth, education or any other aspect. As far as horses are concerned, they see only human beings, they do not see white human beings or coloured human beings or rich human beings or poor human beings. I have never known a horse to carry a grudge for more than a day. Even after a serious disagreement one day, the next day the horse is back to normal. Horses have no unnecessary ego and are always game for another try at a relationship.