I’m frequently asked “What style of training do you use, which clinician do you follow or endorse? Do
you use ‘Natural Horsemanship’ methods? My answer is always the same: I've learned & continue
to learn much from all clinicians, but I use MY methods, ones I've developed and used with success
throughout a lifetime of interaction with thousands of horses and their owners. I still learn much from
all types of horses & horse people. Whether they're professional or casual horse owners, I've
learned something from every horse person I've ever met. The things I've learned may not have
always been what to do, occasionally I've discovered what not to do. If you're open-minded and
discerning, you can learn something from everyone, including novices or newbies. Another favorite
question is “Have you been around horses all your life?” I say “Not yet!.”
A very large part of my philosophy involves cross-training. An average horse will not be a super-star
in every discipline, but I believe every horse is be capable of 'adapting' to serve a variety of
purposes. In working with an innumerable number of horses, I've found that the more we ask of our
horses, the better they become, so I emphasize cross training to produce confident, useful horses. I
also like to involve the owners in the training process because it's crucial that the owner understands
the 'why', the 'how' and the 'when' aspects of horse training so that the horse continues to progress
after he goes home. Another fact is that you are always either training or un-training your horse,
whether it be inadvertently or otherwise. In a nutshell, I’ve found that horses are simply a product of
their environment. Have you ever noticed that folks who have good horses always seem to have
good horses? By contrast, I’m sure you can think of someone who always seems to have horses
who act like they were born in a barn! This is not a coincidence, horses are a product of their
environment! My training philosophy is simple & can be summed up in 3 words: consistent,
persistent & insistent. If you apply this formula, in that specific order, you cannot fail.
I feel that the term “Natural Horsemanship” is over-used and even abused, as is the term “rescue.”
These terms roll off the tongue with such ease, but folks rarely ponder the true meaning of them.
Let's take a deeper look at the term “Natural Horsemanship”. Webster defines ‘NATURAL’ as:
Fixed or determined by nature; belonging to native character; according to nature; essential;
characteristic; innate; not artificial, foreign, assumed, put on or acquired.
NATURE: The existing system of things; the personified sum and order of causes and effects; the
established or regular course of things; usual order of events; a connection of cause and effect;
conformity to that which is natural, as distinguished from that which is artificial, or forced.
**Control is in our nature but nature is not in our control**
HORSEMANSHIP: The act or art of riding, and of training and managing horses.
These two terms really do not go together, but we put them together to appease the masses. The
phrase 'natural horsemanship' is actually an oxy-moron, like deafening silence and accurate
estimate! Let's define another term:
ADAPT: To make suitable; to fit, or suit; to adjust; to alter so as to fit for a new use.
In short, what we do with these horses is far from natural: it is not natural for horses to carry a rider,
wear shoes, do a sliding stop, turn a barrel, back up, or live in a stall, (the list goes on…) but they
adapt. They adapt to us much more than we adapt to them.
Conditioned response is a far more appropriate phrase. This is about cause & effect. Let’s
consider again the definition of nature: a connection of cause & effect; Horsemanship: the act or art
of riding, and of training & managing horses. So to maximize our horse/human relationship it's really
about cause & effect, in other words conditioned response in the act or art of riding, training &
To re-iterate, it's this simple: BE CONSISTENT, PERSISTENT & INSISTENT.
If you follow this formula, paying particular attention to the order, you cannot go wrong! With most
folks, the first thing I notice is a lack of consistency being the biggest factor in their overall difficulties
with their horse. Think of communicating with your horse in black & white terms, be certain there are
no gray areas. Increased awareness usually solves this problem.
I tell folks "He works for me, I don’t work for him. He is my employee and I am the employer, I've
simply hired him to perform a service for me." Think of how many hours each week you work at a
secular job &/or specifically to support & maintain your horse, then compare that to the number of
hours each week your horse works for you...if those numbers are anywhere near equal, it's likely that
you already have a nice horse & a good relationship with him. A good working relationship results
when we keep a professional distance when interacting with our horses. We need to establish and
then maintain our position as herd leader, we accomplish this by convincing him we are qualified and
I remind my students frequently about 1%. Strive to get your horse to be 1% better today, not 20%,
10%, or even 5%, but look for 1% improvement. If you can do this consistently, in 100 days, your
horse will be 100%! This helps to keep things in perspective.
I help horse owners to think like a horse and to set clear boundaries and then watch closely for signs
of erosion. So many (if not all) horse problems can be avoided with keen awareness of a boundary
violation, and proper timing when making a correction. We keep close in mind that horses are prey
animals who were created, designed and pre-programmed to live outside in a herd environment.
I also encourage folks to set goals, large & small, vague or specific. I can then give them tasks to
perfect in order to achieve their goals, I develop a lesson plan, so to speak. I don't believe that
practice makes perfect, I believe that perfect practice makes perfect and that luck is when
preparation meets opportunity.
Feel free to call or email, I'd love to visit with you about your horse and your personal goals. I'm
looking forward to helping you achieve those horsemanship goals, I can help you get uncommon
results with common horses!
Thanks for taking the time to read this,
The Ability Demonstrated in the
Absence of Planning Thoroughly!
|The more you ask for,
expect & demand from your
horse, the better he will get.
|'Natural Horsemanship' defined
|"CONSISTENT, PERSISTENT & INSISTENT"
|"A goal without a plan
is a dream."
|Visit the 'Meet Kalamity Cate"