Blackberry Farm

Friends of the Farm

Natural Horsemanship at the Farm

What is natural horsemanship?
In its simplest form, Natural Horsemanship is a philosophy and school of thought which promotes communication between humans and horses. The methods mimic gestures and body language that horses use to communicate with one another in hopes of improving training and understanding of horses.

How does natural horsemanship allow you to form a better, deeper bond with the horse?
Natural Horsemanship is essentially the language of the horse. Anytime we can learn the language of another person or animal, our relationships improve. The process requires patience and repetition, but the rewards are powerful. Sometimes our riders like to have an hour or so of instruction in Natural Horsemanship before riding. This is done in a round pen with the horse completely unencumbered by tack. By the end of the session, the human walks away, and the horses choose to follow. This is called “join-up”. It is a gripping and memorable experience. I’ve seen it thousands of times, and it still brings a tear to my eye.

Why is it important to you to teach natural horsemanship to guests?
Our horses are ridden by many people each year. Being herd animals, they see their riders as herd members. Horses accept leadership, and they are also very willing to take it. Our guests often tell us that the most valuable time they spend with us is those few moments at the beginning when we teach some basic tenets of Natural Horsemanship, and they get to try it with their horses. The techniques we practice on the ground give the riders a chance to get to know their horse and establish leadership. This leadership transfers from the ground to the saddle. The exercises also provide consistency for our horses, and they know what to expect.

How do guests respond to learning about horses this way?
Most of our guests are busy, active people. With Natural Horsemanship, they have the opportunity to open their hearts and minds to a new way of thinking—the way of the horse—and take the time to reach out to a powerful living being. When there is an understanding between horse and rider, performance and safety are improved and the quality of the experience is amplified for human and horse.