Part 2 of NH article response :
Nevertheless, NH is used to distinguish one form of horse training from more traditional styles of horsemanship. But I think this is again just a marketing strategy. It’s almost impossible to pin point anything that makes NH different from most traditional training systems.
(i) both NH and traditional use negative reinforcement principles.
(ii) both NH and traditional are based on (a) flooding techniques; and (b) approach and retreat techniques.
(iii) both NH and traditional rely on ever increasing amounts of pressure to make a horse respond.
There differences between most NH trainers and most traditional trainers are superficial and just around the fringes – such as the type of equipment. But even here it is hard to distinguish the two. For example, many people believe that NH does not use gadgets, but Monty Roberts is considered an NH trainer and he uses the buckstopper. Also, many people believe that NH trainers use rope halters, but Mark Rashid uses web halters and John O’Leary (who calls himself a traditional style trainer) promotes the use of rope halters in training. You could tally a list of gear that many people feel belong in one camp or the other and discover that there are trainers of either persuasion that use the same equipment.
Equipment or gadgets
Yes everyone has tools they prefer to work with. It is not a crime either if they are business savvy and market them. I say God bless them. This is America. Lets go back to the most natural horsemen , The Native Americans. They to had tools of choice, simple and effective but tools just the same. Tools are not the criminals here, it is the hands that use them that need to be held accountable.
“(i) both NH and traditional use negative reinforcement principles.”
Hmm?? All I can say to this is a horse doesn’t stand a chance if we label ourselves as using Negative Reinforcement. I dare say some of my more Ttouch and Clicker friends would be up in arms.
I am really not sure what to say to this but that “Attitude is everything.”
“(ii) both NH and traditional are based on (a) flooding techniques; and (b) approach and retreat techniques.”
Hmm? Re (a): I’m not sure of at all. My practice and learning through personal interaction and visual aids( DVD’s- books, etc), does not in any way BASE anything on Flooding. It is not a practice all horses can learn from. Some need to be taught while we watch paint dry. Others may be able to handle the faster pace of multi tasking, and more stimulus. This is my idea of flooding. But to say “Flooding” is a base of building foundation, No, sorry not on my clock, and not on the time pieces of any I have studied under in the NH world. The picture which goes with this article I guess is a form of “Flooding”. In my eyes, honestly, that is “Breaking”, breaking the spirit, there is a huge difference. Again I feel the attitude of the horse person has a lot to do with how things go forward. In my opinion, you can flood and stimulate thinking and connection, or you can flood and cause angst. All in the hands of the handler.
In regards to ( b), approach and retreat... you bet. Release teaches! The key is the release whether it be physical contact or energetic intent, when a response is seen, the slightest glimmer , the release must happen.
Before I go on, I will say these are my opinions. I am really just enjoying the opportunity the article has given me to really dissect my own thoughts and beliefs . This is very stimulating, heady stuff.
“(iii) both NH and traditional rely on ever increasing amounts of pressure to make a horse respond.”
Yes, to a certain extent. Better to apply pressure in increasing amounts until a response is seen, than kick to go, pull to stop. The key is the release. No news flash here right?
“….make a horse respond.” The word “Make” bothers me. Anyone can make or try to make a horse comply, but where is any horsemanship in that?
I’m not sure how much traditional , old school English, practiced this. I was raised traditional English Equitation and do not recall any variation in pressure being taught. This was quite a few yrs ago!( 70′s) Things were very mechanical. As I got older and developed my own style, and began to do more X/C work , fox hunting, hunter paces , eventing , etc I was taught some finer things. Innately as a child I was not comfortable with the whole picture of Equitation, so as soon as I had the opportunity, I left that and learned to ride with my horse, Blue Chip Lancer, The best first horse a girl could have! Anyway, bottom line is, it all is in relation to pressure, just given and taken away to achieve the appropriate response.
What is Pressure? Just sitting on a horse is pressure. Saddling is pressure, trailer loading is pressure. Its part of the world we live in.
For an example, If we do not add pressure behind the drive line to move forward, either on the ground or in saddle, how else do we begin the conversation to go forward in motion and in partnership. Some one has to take the lead and give direction .
Pressure is unfortunately a thing horses in the domestic world have to deal with to fit into our lives/world. Pressure however is not non existent in the wild. It is portrayed in games played from foal-hood on up. Pressure is understood by horses. It is a herd dynamic which I value. It is their unspoken language we can only hope to tap into and use as effectively. It is not always physical contact pressure but energetic/ with intention. Going back to our prior mention of Pat Parelli, his foundation protocol, follows as closely as possible the interactions between horses, using physical and energetic intention.
I think the use of pressure is a given. It is the method and intention in with which it is used and applied that should be discussed. If the technique is respectful and allows for 2 way communication, and is not about the goal, but the horse, I’ll look at it.
Any tool is only as effective as the hands that hold it. As horses handlers we take a huge responsibility on to not screw up. I use many different tools in my facility because I find , as I said before, no horse is alike and some respond better to Ttouch work , others to Parelli style, and then there is the wonderful world of in-between. Ultimately I feel we must remain flexible in our handling styles in order to not use or apply pressure to maintain “Control” of our direct line intention/plan for the day. Whatever the day calls for we have to be ready to work with them not against them. Sometimes the day will totally take on a theme of its own. Use what they give you and make lemonade. I know that sounds really cliche, but it usually works out well and keeps the relationship solid. It keeps your horse from looking at you as if to say, “So you are a typical human.” To work in the more alternative world of NH is to not be typical or Traditional. It is to think out of the box.
In conclusion think of this:
What a great day it will be when NH is considered the “Norm”, The Traditional! The Go To way to train a race horse, or other sport horse, and start a colt.
Also A word….. Accountability.
Stay tuned for part 3~