We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is Natural Horsemanship?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 23, 2024
Our promise to you
Sports n' Hobbies is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At Sports n' Hobbies, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Natural horsemanship is a discipline of horse training which believes that trainers should work with horses, using gentleness, body language, and trust to establish a relationship, rather than against the horse, with brute force. Numerous people work within the framework of natural horsemanship, developing their own personal styles and passing them on to the riders and horses that they work with. The common thread between trainers who appear to have radically different natural horsemanship techniques is that they build a friendly relationship with the horse, rather than an adversarial or tense one. Trainers believe that natural horsemanship techniques result in a calm, agreeable horse who cooperates with his or her rider in a partnership.

As the name implies, natural horsemanship focuses on the natural traits of horses, looking at the ways in which horses communicate with each other. There is a heavy emphasis on body language, which is used as a communication tool by horses from a very young age. Although humans cannot precisely replicate the body language of horses, they can be aware of the placement of their bodies in relationship to a horse. In addition, communication through the eyes and tone of voice is an important part of natural horsemanship.

Reinforcement is the key to natural horsemanship. Horses are given positive reinforcement for a task which is performed correctly. In addition, the trainer will use gentle, firm, but not harsh pressure as a negative reinforcement tool. For example, if the trainer wants the horse to move to the right, he or she might firmly place a hand on the horse's left shoulder, applying pressure until the horse moves, at which point the pressure will stop. The horse has learned that a negative situation, in this case the pressure, will stop as soon as the horse is compliant. Learning how and when to apply pressure as a training tool is an important part of natural horsemanship, so that the pressure is never used as a punishment.

By studying equine behavior, trainers can rely on behavioral training to teach the horse, rather than force, which tends to breed a relationship of fear between horse and rider. By reinforcing desired behaviors, the trainer hopes to guide the horse, encouraging the right action and making misbehavior challenging. Because it is slower than traditional “breaking” methods of horse training, natural horsemanship requires patience and a positive attitude on the part of the trainer and rider. Many adherents to the training technique, however, believe that the hard work is worth it.

Sports n' Hobbies is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a Sports n' Hobbies researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By aeronmack — On Feb 13, 2008

Some additional points about Natural Horsemanship:

1) Treats are rarely given when using NH techniques.

2) Horses learn through the release of pressure, so when training, applying the pressure is the cue, and releasing the pressure is the 'reward'.

3) As the horse learns to respond to the cue, the cue gets softer and quieter, resulting in a horse that will perform tasks with very subtle cues.

4) Natural horse trainers do not use fear, force or leverage to teach the horse. The horse learns to trust the handler, and a close bond is formed.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

Learn more
Sports n' Hobbies, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

Sports n' Hobbies, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.