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Talk to me about groundwork/natural horsemanship

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  • Talk to me about groundwork/natural horsemanship

    Hi all. I'm a lifelong hunter/jumper rider, but I never really learned much about groundwork/natural horsemanship. I've got a nice little 4 year old on trial (I'm likely buying him) and I'd REALLY like to do some with him. I think it'd benefit both of us.

    My trainer does a little of this, but it's not her forte. I'd like to invest in some education. I've heard that the Buck Brannaman videos are very good. Can anyone confirm or deny this? Any other recommendations?

  • #2
    Anything you get from Buck Brannaman is good. Start with the Groundwork DVD. The 7 Clinics are very good once you have a basic knowledge.
    We're spending our money on horses and bourbon. The rest we're just wasting.
    www.dleestudio.com

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    • #3
      Warwick Schiller. He has an online video subscription and has over 450 videos. His content is very good and easy to apply for the average horse owner.

      Comment


      • #4
        The videos will get you only so far.

        There are a couple more aspects to this training that mean you really should find a good horseman who can help you in person.

        1. You need to get your timing and feel with your body right. You can learn what you should be aiming for by watching, but you might not realize what you are doing to make things not smooth enough without some critique. Think of this as trying to learn good equitation by watching Medal Finals videos. If you know why those videos wouldn't be enough to be able to make you ride that course (or train up an eq horse), you get what I'm saying

        2. The trick is to know which exercises to do when, and when to quit or change the topic with your horse. Lots of the video tapes show you how do things; they don't help you judge your horse and know what to do when he presents you something other than what you see on the tape.

        The (good) horsemen making these tapes do intend for your to use them with good judgment about what your horse needs and those guys (especially Brannaman) will expect you as a handler to bring an articulate and accurate use of your body to the table.

        One question I would ask you if you came to me for this kind of help is "What do you want ground work for? What do you want your horse to learn?" IMO, you must know what this stuff is for in order to use it profitably.

        But point number one is the main reason to get some live help.
        The armchair saddler
        Politically Pro-Cat

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        • #5
          mvp is usually someone I agree with --but not this time. DVDs are all I have --that and a desire to make my horse better and me a better horse person. I would love to have someone live help me --but no one is within a two hour drive, and those folks are mostly Event riders --not so much into ground work. I was given a DVD called "Gaining Control and Respect on the Ground." --it had 8 lessons on it. Each one took about 30 min to watch. The instructor explained the purpose of the lesson --why it was important --then did the lesson first with an accomplished horse, next with a highly reactive horse that had never done the lesson, finally with a fat, lazy horse that looked like mine. He explained each thing he did and why. At the end of the lesson were "handler mistakes" and "horse mistakes." --and what to do to correct those. I started with lesson 1 and really saw horse learn something. Then I started using the same method on the other three horses in the barn. All improved. As far as timing, sure --I'm probably pretty bad at it --but I try. And I try every day every time I ride. I am patient and consistent. I am sure Buck Bennaman or Clinton Anderson, or Stacey Westfall could do a better job --quicker --but I am all my horse has ---and we continue to make progress. [I kind of think a previous owner may have done this DVD series with him --he catches on almost too quick.]

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          • #6
            Look into Andrew McLean’s books on Equitation Science. In my experience, his methods outperform any natural horsemanship system. His work is all based on how horse’s learn backed up by scientific research.

            Comment


            • #7
              Love Stacy Westfall's stuff. She's having a sale right now as she's going to an all digital format. Stacy is a great teacher and fantastic person. She explains the concept and why what she is doing works as well as the exercises themselves.

              Comment


              • #8
                If you can get to clinics they are a better way to learn, and then go on to DVD's or books to get a different angle on something. Andrew McLean is science based and he has the practical knowledge, too. I have been to a couple of his clinics and he is endlessly patient.
                Proud member of People Who Hate to Kill Wildlife clique

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                • #9
                  If you already have some empathy, a bit of timing, and the ability to read the horse in order to interpret a book/DVD instruction, you will do pretty well with said instructions.

                  I would recommend Harry Whitney very highly. His student ( and equestrian journalist) Tom Moates has written several books about his own journey with horsemanship, especially Harry Whitney's style.

                  Harry Whitney spent a good bit of time with Tom Dorrance Go to Tom Moates s website... order and read his books.

                  Buck Brannaman is also highly recommended.

                  And to get started, find the Very Best help you can. It might take more$$ that way, and take more time... But well worth it. A horse that's been driven /chased around and around a round pen, and one rein stopped to death isn't a happy, connected horse. He's just going to be obedient so that you will stop harassing him. A horse that's been taught to let go, turn loose, tune in and feel of his handler is a joy to be around.

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                  • #10
                    "Natural horsemanship" is an oxymoron. There is NOTHING natural in the horse allowing a member of The World's Most Successful Predator Species to climb on its back!!!

                    When we take the horse out of its world and bring it into the world of humans we are wise to use our intelligence to figure out how we can make use of the natural instincts of the horse to accomplish a task and to suppress the horse's natural instinct to flee after dumping the human into the dirt.

                    I'm of mixed mind about Buck. Don't know anything about Warwick, Andrew, Stacy or Harry.

                    You can download Vladimir Littauer's book Common Sense Horsemanship for free in a number of places. It's very good but oriented to practice, not philosophy. It contains a seven month program, in detail, for using both ground and saddle work to make a fox hunting horse. A good hunt horse is about as nice a mount as the average horse owner might like to have. Capt. Littauer (late of the Imperial Russian Cavalry) tells you how to do that.

                    If you've never read them, you should also read the two oldest, complete, extant pieces on horse training. They are very short, to the point, and most of the modern stuff is functionally commentary on them:

                    On Horsemanship by Xenophon. And The Cavalry General by Xenophon. Both were written about 400 B.C. but are completely relevant today. You can find them on Project Gutenberg:

                    https://www.gutenberg.org/files/1176/1176-h/1176-h.htm

                    https://www.gutenberg.org/files/1172/1172-h/1172-h.htm

                    Utube is full of videos but, like much of the Internet, is 90% dross. You'll have to kiss a fair number of frogs to find your "training prince."

                    Good luck going forward.

                    G.
                    Mangalarga Marchador: Uma Raa, Uma Paixo

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Momateur View Post
                      Hi all. I'm a lifelong hunter/jumper rider, but I never really learned much about groundwork/natural horsemanship. I've got a nice little 4 year old on trial (I'm likely buying him) and I'd REALLY like to do some with him. I think it'd benefit both of us.

                      My trainer does a little of this, but it's not her forte. I'd like to invest in some education. I've heard that the Buck Brannaman videos are very good. Can anyone confirm or deny this? Any other recommendations?
                      I've been exposed to most of the trainers on this thread, except G's old farts, and find the easiest to understand and apply is Warwick Schiller. You do a monthly subscription and can cancel at any time, so it's pretty risk-free. All of these methods involve a lot of very boring, basic exercises, but they are fundamental in getting your horse to be a good, solid citizen. Consider it an investment in yourself - if you can learn the concepts and have the patience to do the boring groundwork, you will be able to handle the tough situations that are part of horse training.

                      You won't be the person posting topics like:
                      Help horse won't load
                      Need calming supplements
                      Help with spooky horse
                      Horse bucks at canter
                      Etc

                      It will teach you to solve problems, in a humane and ethical manner, and give you even more compassion and understanding for your horse. And you take these skills with you for the rest of your life.
                      "When a true genius appears in the world, you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in a confederacy against him."

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I third Equitation Science. His book "Academic Horse Training" is easy to process and takes you step by step. I have not seen his DVDs. I regularly get an Equitation Science graduate up to teach clinics (Jane Stone) and the process is easy to learn although the timing takes some practice. The best part is that all training is broken down into 5 basic responses (move the haunches, move the shoulders, go faster, go slower, and head control), which can be used to address any training problem, or to achieve any "fancy" movement. Andrew competed in jumping/dressage at FEI levels: it isn't a western focused program like most NH.

                        An issue with Natural Horsemanship is that it relies on the prey/predator response (which causes stress in the horse), and is also often short sighted (for example: teaching a horse to lead by following your feet or focusing on your posture makes it hard to correct a loading issue and can cause a horse stress when you then try to tie it and it can't follow your feet).
                        Freeing worms from cans everywhere!

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I found it easier to follow Warwick Schiller. I know he has a relationship path that he didn't have when I subscribed but the old method really helped me get some stuff. I really like him. He has a lot of videos on YouTube if you want to check him out.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I also recommend Warwick Schiller - really easy to follow and easy to apply in a variety of situations.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by CHT View Post

                              An issue with Natural Horsemanship is that it relies on the prey/predator response (which causes stress in the horse), and is also often short sighted (for example: teaching a horse to lead by following your feet or focusing on your posture makes it hard to correct a loading issue and can cause a horse stress when you then try to tie it and it can't follow your feet).
                              I disagree. You teach a horse to relax despite external stimuli. I’ve never heard that horses follow your feet. I think you don’t have an in depth understanding of the fundamentals, since the goal is to have the horse be relaxed and confident, not stressed and fearful.
                              "When a true genius appears in the world, you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in a confederacy against him."

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Warwick Schiller! There are SO many videos, including multiple training sessions with one horse. He has also recently changed some of his thinking/approach toward nervous horses. I like trainers who are willing to admit they have a new approach.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by Palm Beach View Post

                                  I disagree. You teach a horse to relax despite external stimuli. I’ve never heard that horses follow your feet. I think you don’t have an in depth understanding of the fundamentals, since the goal is to have the horse be relaxed and confident, not stressed and fearful.
                                  NH often uses flooding to get a horse to accept external stimuli, and to put a horse in a state of sustained helplessness. There are many scientific studies to back up this reality. Similar to how a mouse curls up to the cat that has been trying to kill it: it can't escape so it just gives up and indeed looks relaxed.
                                  Freeing worms from cans everywhere!

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by CHT View Post

                                    NH often uses flooding to get a horse to accept external stimuli, and to put a horse in a state of sustained helplessness. There are many scientific studies to back up this reality. Similar to how a mouse curls up to the cat that has been trying to kill it: it can't escape so it just gives up and indeed looks relaxed.
                                    No, it does not use flooding. I am thinking about the trainers listed above, and can't recall an instance where any of them use flooding. Most use pressure/release in some situations, which you are probably confusing with flooding. Or maybe you are thinking about different trainers. The only ones I have ever seen use flooding are English trainers.
                                    "When a true genius appears in the world, you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in a confederacy against him."

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by CHT View Post
                                      I third Equitation Science. His book "Academic Horse Training" is easy to process and takes you step by step. I have not seen his DVDs. I regularly get an Equitation Science graduate up to teach clinics (Jane Stone) and the process is easy to learn although the timing takes some practice. The best part is that all training is broken down into 5 basic responses (move the haunches, move the shoulders, go faster, go slower, and head control), which can be used to address any training problem, or to achieve any "fancy" movement. Andrew competed in jumping/dressage at FEI levels: it isn't a western focused program like most NH.

                                      An issue with Natural Horsemanship is that it relies on the prey/predator response (which causes stress in the horse), and is also often short sighted (for example: teaching a horse to lead by following your feet or focusing on your posture makes it hard to correct a loading issue and can cause a horse stress when you then try to tie it and it can't follow your feet).
                                      I don't think the movement of one's feet are the only signal that a handler offers a horse. And the horse sure can't watch your feet when you are riding him.... which is the endgame of good NH person is using ground work.

                                      Also, what program of conditioning does Andrew use if not creating "stress" (or did you mean pressure?) for a horse that he has to figure out how to get his handler or rider to release?

                                      I always think it's interesting when riders who were raised riding English or who are the most educated in those disciplines as opposed to the Western ones feel confident telling folks all there is to know about what's wrong with the Western ones.

                                      Not for nothing, but I grew up in English world and now have a dressage mare who stands tied hard, loads, opens and closes gaits (this is a new skill for her and she thinks it is way hard to have a swinging, noisy gait that close to her body), and who learned to push cattle as a basis for learning to be confident went I sent her toward something scary. You know that this is for? Not cattle. It's for teaching her to trot boldly down to any judge's box at C because I asked her to.
                                      The armchair saddler
                                      Politically Pro-Cat

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by CHT View Post

                                        NH often uses flooding to get a horse to accept external stimuli, and to put a horse in a state of sustained helplessness. There are many scientific studies to back up this reality. Similar to how a mouse curls up to the cat that has been trying to kill it: it can't escape so it just gives up and indeed looks relaxed.
                                        That is so not it!

                                        There is nothing about a cutting horse that is "learned helplessness." In fact, you *need* that horse to have an ego and to invest himself in the job.
                                        The armchair saddler
                                        Politically Pro-Cat

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