CMCP
Beratung für Pferd, Hund & Halter
Artikel von Mark Rashid
All Things Natural by Mark Rashid
Okay,    I’m    getting    ready    to    climb    out    on    a    little    limb    here    and    talk    about something   that   comes   up   a   lot   at   our   clinics,   as   well   as   in   a   number   of   the   letters and emails we receive. It’s the subject of “natural horsemanship”. Some   people   say   that   I   am   a   “natural   horseman”   because   I   practice   certain philosophies   and   techniques.   Others   say   I’m   not   “natural”   (oddly   enough)   for the   very   same   reasons.   If   you   ask   me,   I   say   that   it   seems   pretty   dang   hard,   if   not impossible,   to   be   -   or   not   be   -   something   that   doesn’t   even   exist   in   the   first place. We’ll   get   back   to   that   in   a   minute,   but   first,   a   quick   history   lesson.   One   might   be surprised   to   learn   that   the   term   “natural   horsemanship”   didn’t   really   even   exist prior   to   around   1985.   You   see,   it   was   about   that   time   that   a   well-known   horse trainer   coined   the   phrase   and   began   using   it   as   a   marketing   tool   for   a   horse- training   program   he   and   his   wife   had   developed.   The   term   resonated   with   a   lot of   folks   and   whether   people   followed   the   program   or   not,   they   began   using   it   as a   way   to   define   the   methods   and   techniques   they   used   to   work   with   their   horse. “I   use      natural   horsemanship       to   train   my   horses.”   Over   the   years   the   term   has even    morphed    into    what    a    lot    of    people    might    refer    to    as    an    actual    equine discipline, like dressage, or reining or jumping. “I  do   natural horsemanship.” Now,    before    going    any    further,    it    might    be    helpful    to    understand    what    the definition   of   the   word      natural ,   is.   The   Merriam-Webster   dictionary   defines   the word    as: being    in    accordance    with    or    determined    by    nature. Dictionary.com defines   the   word   as   -      existing   in   or   formed   by   nature   (opposed   to      artificial       ):   a natural   bridge.      So   it   seems   to   me   that,   in   order   for   horsemanship   to   be   truly   natural, it   must   somehow   match   up   with   at   least   one   of   these,   or   at   the   very   least,   a similar definition. The problem is…nothing we do with horses does! Lets   start   with   the   enclosures   we   keep   them   in.   First,   here’s   a   question.   Not counting    humans,    how    many    other    species    of    animal    on    the    planet    build enclosures   of   any   kind   in   order   to   house   or   keep   another   species   of   animal captive?    According    to    my    research…none.    So,    while    building    enclosures    to house   other   species   of   animals   may   be   natural   to   humans   (a   statement   that could   be   debated),   it   is   certainly   not   natural   to   the   animals   being   kept.   As   a result,   if   we   are   keeping   our   horses   in   any   kind   of   man-made   enclosure,   no matter how big or small, it is unnatural to them. Here   are   a   couple   more   questions.   How   many   species   of   wild   animal   (including horses)      willingly       allow   another   species   of   animal   of   any   kind   to   restrain   them? How   many   species   of   animal   willingly   allow   another   species   of   animal   to   climb on   their   back?   So,   if   we   physically   restrain   the   horse   in   any   way,   or   if   we   ride the horse, it is unnatural – not just to the horse but to us as well. Okay,   so   there   is   our   base   line.   Keeping   a   horse   in   a   man-made   enclosure   is unnatural,    and    so    is    restraining    and/or    riding    them    because    none    of    those things    are in    accordance    with    or    determined    by    nature,        or        existing    in    or formed   by   nature.      So   now   that   we’ve   established   that   keeping,   restraining   and riding   horses   is   unnatural,   the   rest   of   what   I   am   about   to   say   may   seem   a   bit redundant, but…what the heck. Lets go through it anyway. Rope    halters    vs.    web    or    leather    halters.    Seeing    as    how    we    have    already established   that   restraining   a   horse   is   unnatural,   the   kind   of   halter   one   uses   on their   horse   becomes   personal   preference.   It   is   my   personal   belief   that   a   web   or leather    flat    halter    is    more    humane    than    a    knotted    rope    halter,    but    I    don’t believe   either   is   more   “natural”   than   the   other.   And,   truth   be   told,   there   are some   instances   when   using   a   rope   halter   is   actually   going   to   be   more   beneficial for both horse and handler due to circumstances between the pair. Large   pasture   or   box   stall.   A   man   made   enclosure   of   any   kind   or   size   has   not been determined   by   nature       nor   was   it      existing   in   or   formed   by   nature,       so   the bottom   line   is   any   enclosure   is   unnatural.   Granted,   a   horse   would   probably   be more   comfortable   in   a   pasture   than   a   stall,   but   still,   by   definition   it   doesn’t change the fact that man made enclosures are  un natural. Bit,   bitless   or   bridle   less.      All   three   are   unnatural,   so   it   boils   down   to   personal preference and comfort level of the horse and rider. Saddle    or    no    saddle.        As    was    already    stated,    no    mammal    naturally    allows another    mammalian    species    to    get    on    their    back    without    some    form    of desensitization   or   training.   So   riding   a   horse   in   any   way   shape   or   form   is   again, by   definition,   an   unnatural   act.   This   then   boils   down   to   personal   preference and    the    comfort    level    of    the    horse    and    rider.    The    majority    of    horses    are probably   going   to   be   more   comfortable   with   a   rider’s   weight   dispersed   over   the most   square   inches   of   their   back.   With   that   in   mind,   a   proper   fitting   saddle would    probably    be    more    comfortable    for    a    horse    than    carrying    a    rider bareback. Shoes   or   no   shoes.      At   first   glance,   it   would   seem   that   keeping   a   horse   barefoot would   actually   be   more   natural   than   putting   shoes   on,   and   if   the   horse   were   in the   wild   and   not   carrying   a   rider,   I   would   agree.   But   domestic   horses   aren’t   wild horses.   Most   domestic   horses   lack   the   sound   quality   of   foot   that   the   wild   horse does   due   to   selective   breeding   by   man,   so   the   domestic   horse   doesn’t   have   the luxury   of   having   a   foot   that   was      determined   by   nature.      In   other   words,   many domestic   horses   do   not   (structurally)   have   a   truly   natural   foot   to   begin   with,   so trying   to   give   them   one   by   having   them   go   barefoot   can,   and   often   does,   cause problems for both horse and rider. Having   a   domestic   horse   go   barefoot   also   doesn’t   take   into   account   the   fact   the horse   must   carry   the   weight   of   a   rider   over   terrain   that   the   horse   often   isn’t used    to    (in    the    case    of    a    trail    horse,    for    instance)    which    usually    leads    to lameness   and/or   soreness   issues   for   the   horse.   Of   course   the   answer   to   having   a lame   or   sore   “naturally   barefoot”   horse   is   to   place   a   rubber   boot   over   the   entire foot   to   protect   the   sole   –   the   logic   of   which   (I   must   admit)   escapes   me.   Common sense   would   tell   me   if   I   have   to   strap   a   boot   on   the   foot   to   keep   the   horse   from being   lame,   I   might   as   well   nail   a   shoe   on.   At   least   by   doing   that   the   horse   will have 24-hour consistency in the way the foot feels as well as how it travels. Now   don’t   get   me   wrong,   here.   I   think   its   great   when   a   horse’s   foot   is   healthy enough   for   it   to   go   barefoot   year   around,   and   over   all   kinds   of   terrains.   In   a case   like   that,   it’s   probably   the   best   thing   for   the   horse.   But   for   a   horse   whose foot   isn’t   healthy   enough,   then   doing   what’s   right   for   the   horse   is   the   way   to   go. If than means nailing a shoe on him, then that’s what I do. It    is    my    opinion    that    sometimes    people’s    ideology    gets    in    the    way    of    their common   sense.   Its   like   a   dog   owner   who   refuses   to   feed   their   dog   meat   because the   owner   is   a   vegetarian.   Being   vegetarian   might   be   what’s   best   for   the   person, but it sure isn’t what’s best (nor is it natural) for the dog. Because   some   people   might   have   a   hard   time   distinguishing   between   something that   is   natural   or   unnatural   when   it   comes   to   working   with   horses,   just   for   the fun   of   it,   lets   replace   the   words      unnatural       and      natural       with   the   words      wet      and      dry      while   going   over   this .       We   can   use   the   following   question   as   a   sort   of template   to   go   by:   two   men   walk   into   a   pond,   one   walks   in   up   to   his   neck,   the other    up    to    his    chest.    Which    one    is    still    dry    (natural)?    The    answer    is obvious…neither   one.   They   are   both   wet   (unnatural).   Wet   is   wet,   and   dry   is   dry. The   only   way   one   man   would   still   be   dry   (natural)   is   if   he   hadn’t   walked   into   the pond   to   begin   with.   The   man   who   only   walked   into   the   pond   up   to   his   chest might be less wet…but he is still wet nonetheless. I   suppose   in   the   end,   it   is   important   for   us   to   keep   in   mind   that   all   things natural   are   not   necessarily   good.   A   tornado   is   natural,   but   probably   not   terribly helpful   when   our   house   stands   in   its   path.   Arsenic   is   natural,   so   is   locoweed, larkspur   and   black   walnut.   Of   course   we   keep   our   horses   and   ourselves   away from those things because they are not only harmful, but also deadly. So   next   time   we   consider   doing   something   for   our   horses   simply   because   it   flies under   the   flag   of   being   “natural”,   maybe   we   can   allow   some   common   sense   to enter into our decision making first.