Friday, 17 August 2012

The Ethics of Horsemanship

In 1994 the German National Equestrian Federation published a booklet, “Ethical Principles for the True Horseman”.  The following are the nine ethical principles they included:

1.     Anyone involved with a horse takes over responsibility for this living creature entrusted to him.

2.     The horse must be kept in a way that is in keeping with its natural living requirements.

3.     Highest priority must be accorded to the physical as well as psychological health of the horse, irrespective of the purpose for which it is used.

4.     Man must respect every horse alike, regardless of its breed, age and sex and its use for breeding, for recreation or in sporting competition.

5.     Knowledge of the history of the horse, its needs, and how to handle it are part of our historic-cultural heritage.  This information must be cherished and safeguarded in order to be passed on to the next generations.

6.     Contact and dealings with horses are character-building experiences and of valuable significance to the development of the human being – in particular, the young person.  This aspect must always be respected and promoted.

7.     The human who participates in equestrian sport with his horse must subject himself, as well as his horse to training.  The goal of any training is to bring about the best possible harmony between rider and horse.

8.     The use of the horse in competition as well as in general riding, driving and vaulting must be reared toward the horse`s ability, temperament and willingness to perform.  Manipulating a horse`s capacity to work by means of medication or other “horse-unfriendly” influences should be rejected by all and people engaged in such practices should be prosecuted.

9.     The responsibility a human has for the horse entrusted to him includes the end of the horse`s live.  The human must always assume this responsibility and implement any decisions in the best interest of the horse.

Understanding the nature of the horse and practicing natural horsemanship encompasses these principles.  It is our responsibility as our horse`s partner to live by these principles.

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Nature Connection

During the first year that we started using natural horse training methods, we began noticing that it was having an unexpected effect on wildlife in and around the paddock.  Animals that were very shy like fox, deer and wild turkey were becoming more visible.

In the second year, during the early summer, a litter of fox starting visiting the paddock daily.  When we would take the horses into the round pen for grooming the foxes would appear.  The kits would come into the round pen and lie down about 10 feet from where we were.  They would just watch as we stroked the horse.  Then we noticed that the whitetail deer and the wild turkeys were coming close to the paddock and staying nearby.  Normally they would flee at the sight of humans.

I realized that the habits that I had learned from studying the nature of the horse were having the same effect on wild animals as they did on horses.  When you learn to use body language and the control of your emotional and physical energy to communicate with horses it transfers to other animals.  When you learn to read the body language of horses you can learn to read the body language of other animals and they recognize the understanding.  Just as you build confidence and trust with your horse you can build confidence and trust with other animals.  Learning to be a partner with your horse is a gateway to connecting with a wide range of the creatures of the natural world.