Please note that by the term horseman, I include men and women. I hope this does not offend anyone.
The terms HORSEMAN and HORSEMANSHIP are widely used in the equine world. What do those terms really mean? I thought it would be interesting to do a quick look at the writings and comments made by various authorities and experts in the field. This is not intended to confuse anyone, but rather to show the definition is not straight forward and has many dimensions.
The following definition was copied from the internet dictionary.
1. a person who is skilled in riding a horse.
2. a person on horseback.
3. a person who owns, breeds, trains, or tends horses.
The following is a quotation from Ray Hunt`s book “Think Harmony with Horses”.
“My goal with the horse is not to beat someone; it`s to win within myself. To do the best job I can do and tomorrow try to do better. You will be working on yourself to accomplish this, not on your horse. You will work to recognize how you feel toward your horse and how your horse answers you back; how he understands you, and how he takes it. There shouldn`t be any hassle; there shouldn`t be a big flareup. Mentally, your horse should not weigh anything. When you ask your horse to do something it should be his idea. This is the goal. In the end, when you ask your horse to do something, he wants to do it, he likes to do it, he understands how to do it, and he does it.
You`ll find out when you get this accomplished that you`re going to be a horseman.”
In the 2011 Road to the Horse event Pat Parelli said;
“Horsemanship is the habits and skills that both horses and humans need to become partners.”
The following is a quotation for Chris Cox book Ride the Journey;
“To me, natural horsemanship means understanding how the horse`s mind works and using this knowledge to work with – not against – his natural instincts.”
In his book True Horsemanship Through Feel, Bill Dorrance says:
“When you can direct a horse`s movements through feel, then there`s understanding taking place between the person and the horse. That is the sign of true horsemanship.”
I am sure that there are many other definitions of the term horseman/horsemanship that one could find. All of them have merit and useful information.
For me horsemanship means being able to have an effective and constructive partnership with a horse through understanding and communication. It is as simple and as complex as any relationship can be. In the end horsemanship is our unique relationship between us and our horse.