Natural Horsemanship Best For the Horse Tack

Natural Horsemanship Best For the Horse Tack

In today’s horse world, the operative concept is “natural horsemanship.” This concept involves a light handed approach to training and being with horses, abandoning some of the older more punitive methods. The idea is one of the developments of learning relationship over time in which the human tried to understand horse thought processes and uses this understanding to guide the horse into desirable behavior patterns. This is a monumental task since a human on a horse’s back arouses the instinctive fear that the horse is about to become the entree on a predator’s menu. Dedicated clinicians like Dr. Robert Miller have recognized the importance of imprinting at birth and continuing the association and learning during life. Here’s the science of why he’s right, and why you don’t just turn out a weanling and “get to him” via breaking techniques when he’s 4 or 5.

The brain is the most marvelous of all our organs. It not only grows in size during childhood but also grows in the connection between nerve cells. If you take a child or a very young animal and don’t expose them to stimuli over time, their brains average about 20% smaller than those of stimulated animals. With an electroencephalograph, we find that there is about 15% less electrical activity in those small unstimulated brains. This is all because stimulation produces responses, and these produce both electrical and anatomical connections. These connections can be seen microscopically as dendrites, finger-like projections from the ends of nerve cells through which they “talk” to other nerves. One of the reasons why learning takes time is that these networks take time to grow physically. The reason why your horse learns to respond quicker the second training session is that this “highway” construction has begun. Once the brain has developed this plasticity, bad behavior patterns can be remodeled, so long as the stimulus is not so close that it triggers the undesired behavior. Exercise your muscles and you develop strength. Exercise your brain and you develop knowledge.

We ask a lot from a horse’s brain. It’s about the size of a 6-ounce soup can, but it is a mammalian brain nonetheless. Positive contact and reinforcement through acceptable rewards can produce learning and enlighten both horse and human. Don’t underestimate the horse’s intellect. Remember – they’re smart enough not to bet on humans.

Keep riding. ~ JSW

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Blog Post by Dr. Jim Warson, author of The Rider’s Pain Free Back
Dr. Jim Warson, endorses ThinLine in his book the Rider’s Pain Free Back.  

 

 

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 Natural Horsemanship Best For the Horse Tack

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