Natural horsemanship provides a solid foundation for any horse in any sport. A horse is a horse is a horse. Though the jobs we ask of them vary from discipline to discipline, the biomechanics and psychology of horses doesn’t change.
Natural horse training methods bring results across the board. I train young horses for one equestrian client who enjoys competing in a sport where training gadgets are the norm. Straps and chains and other things are utilized by unknowing or unscrupulous horse trainers to achieve results by force. Natural horse training methods apply just as much to these colts as any other! Furthermore, their initial natural horsemanship training sets these colts up to succeed in or out of the horse show ring.
Open any horse tack catalogue to the “Training Aids” pages. The photos look like something out of a medieval torture chamber, while the descriptions promise instant results. Martingales and specialty reins and name-brand horse “training systems” pull and push and force horses’ bodies into any but natural self-carriage.
Use your brain when you think about these devices, rather than blindly believing their marketing descriptions. Lower the head, engage the hindquarters, strengthen the back, strengthen the neck, set the head, set the head, set the head. The head and neck are the fulcrum by which the horse organizes all the energy, movement, and forces of physics generated by the rest of the body: when it is “set” the rest of the body is compromised. When the horse is brought into natural self-carriage, the “look” is similar but the horse is able to move with much more freedom, extravagance, beauty, and comfort.
Xenophon observed around 400 B.C., “…what the horse does under compulsion, as Simon also observes, is done without understanding; and there is no beauty in it either, any more than if one should whip and spur a dancer.” Leave the “Training Aids” in the horse tack catalogue pages. Develop the natural horseman’s true aids: your seat, your legs, your hands, and most importantly, your mind.