Natural horse care and horse training



Horses nowadays get a rough deal with their care and training.

Centuries of ignorance have blindly convinced us we know better than nature – not only do we shoe horses – we have lost all perception of how and why they thrive in their natural environment.

The difference between a horse kept ‘naturally’ and one shod and stabled for 12 hours a day is staggering.

It’s so sad, because there is very little to stop people giving their horses a ‘natural’ life.

I find it deeply upsetting – but I’m not a nut or ‘natural horse evangelist’ (I happily chat with anyone who has a love of horses, however they keep them).

But, I do get folk to dabble with natural techniques. That’s all. Nothing but dabble to start with.

And it’s when they dabble the magic happens.

The rewards are huge – for the horse and for the rider.

I usually start with diet, as most folk can get their head around the concept of ‘we are what we eat’, even for horses.

Hay testing is cheap when you consider how much most people spend on feed, and it’ll tell you what supplements you should (or more importantly shouldn’t) give your horse.

hay testing for horses

Your horse can't forage - that's why hay testing is so important

Did you know too much iron undermines copper and zinc absorption, which are both important for a horse’s health?

Well, even if you did know that, without getting your hay tested you’re still leaving it to chance. In the wild, horses forage. They have a sense for what they need – and find it. They can’t do that with hay bales.

And it goes on. Some people say they can’t believe the difference a simple change in supplements make. But remember, your horse can’t forage – so you have to do it for them.

Then there’s the shoes.

The difference in gait between a shod horse and a barefoot horse is easily seen: the natural bounce and elegance in a barefoot horse is beautiful sight. But it brings with it something all riders long for – the wonderful feeling of being more in touch with your horse.

Perhaps it’s because a barefoot horse is much more sure-footed, and this in turn, is felt by the rider.

Transitioning your horse to barefoot is never straight forward, but I do know this, once you’ve ridden a barefoot horse, you’ll want to make the effort.

You’ll also save a fortune in farrier bills too.

Dabbling with natural horse care inevitably leads you to bitless bridles. Too me, it seems madness to inflict the pain and damage of a bit to my horse. There is no doubt in my mind it would rather stop from a hug to the head than a jolt to the teeth.

And if the truth be told, we all want our horses to love us as much as we love them. So why do we do it? Blind ignorance or because it’s easy? Perhaps both.

But I do know this much. The bond between you and your horse will be infinitely stronger with a bitless bridle.

If what I’ve said has struck a chord with you, please do sign up to my helpful tips. I suspect you’ll like them – but more importantly find them useful.

And of course I’m biased, but I think your horse will thank you too.

Best

Al




Leave a comment ?

178 Comments.

  1. Yes, I would like to see what you have to tell us. I am always a bit hesitant to not use a bit, especially as my mare loves other horses and plays up to get to them when I go for a ride and does like a fast gallop when I let her and I feel I like that control that I
    need. What do you do if you don’t have a bit. Can you control without it?

    • Yes. You actually have more control with some horses. I recently acquired a horse that threw his head around as soon as the bridle went on. He was all over the place, jumpy and unhappy. I decided to give my bitless bridle a try. He was a new horse! More responsive. More calm. And much happier.

      • I have a pony who wasn’t going to do well with a bitless. His nose was once broken. In the beginning, it took peppermints to keep his mind working. All that chewing really helped him. I needed a solution if I was going to ride him. I came up with a rope bit made from yhate rope. He absolutely loves it. I can no longer catch him with a halter nor a lead rope. It has to be his bridle without the reins. He positions himself and then starts chewing. He basicly chews it into his mouth :lol:

        I have found all my horses love the rope bit. So now everybody has one. Then I came across Duke. He was taught to pull. That rope bit was amazing. Duke has a hard time finding the leverage. The rope forms to whatever shape he makes with his mouth. It did most of the work of breaking that habit. He wasn’t happy about it. We went through a lot of tantrums and he became a fire breathing dragon. He’s had 8 years of bad training, and he thought I was doing it all wrong. Very very smart horse.

    • you can because I have a bit-less bridle and my pony is quite under control :smile:

  2. Years ago in a moment of madness I bought a pony called Rocky for my twins to ride.

    What a mistake!

    That was the most badly behaved pony that ever lived.

    He would do NOTHING you wanted him to.

    Eventually we virtually gave him away to a local riding school.

    They used him for little shows, billed as “the naughty pony”.

    I suspect that pony had been badly trained or even badly treated – but it was too late for clueless me to do anything.

    • It’s good to admit defeat if a certain horse is outside your skill level, and finding it a new home with more experienced trainers is wise in many cases. still, very few horses are hopeless. Occasionally you’ll get one that is brain deficient or so physically or emotionally damaged that it will never be safe around humans, but most can be rehabilitated enough so they can be useful to someone. I hope the riding school isn’t just allowing that pony to be naughty and writing him off — I hope they are actively trying to make him a better citizen.

  3. that sounds awesome! I do a lot of natural horse man ship, so I am familiar with some natural ways to care for a horse. But I would LOVE to learn more! i want to learn everything I can so my horse can be happy and healthy for her whole life. :grin:

  4. Count me in ! I’ve learned to do my own barefoot trimming, I ride in an bitless bridle, I ride bareback, I use “slow feed” hay feeders, and I’m always in for learning more about “natural horse care”.

  5. I agree with the “bitless bridles” idea, I am in my late 50’s and had horses when I was a kid, always horses around, always some type of metal bit in their mouths. Never heard of a bridle without a bit. In the past year, I now have three horses, all in their teens, I got them with Tom Thumb bits and immediately went to hackamores with all, they take the bridle easier and seem to be much more comfortable. Metal banging a horses teeth just doesn’t make sense to me.

  6. This is great. I have a 30 year old horse, and in the spring and summer he has 5 acres of forage. In the winter he is on hay. Last winter I switched hay sources and you are right, he looks and acts ten years younger. I had no idea how much the change in diet would effect a horse! I hadn’t been riding him for a couple of years because he was so old – and now this year I have been riding him again and I can hardly hold him down to a walk!

  7. Totally love barefoot!! all my ponies thrive off being barefoot. and makes hillwork so much safer

  8. william goodall

    i think what your saying makes sence.

  9. Kathleen Brandt

    You can also count me in. I have always believed in keeping it as close to nature as you can. God didn’t make any mistakes and these animals know what they need to eat. We are so bombarded with all of the frilly stuff with advertisers. I look forward to your viewpoint and what you have to share.

    Thank You in advance!

  10. Don Teunissen

    I have been riding bitless, barefoot, and bareback for the past two years. The horse I currently ride and work with for the past year is the second from the top of a herd of 45 to 50 head, all geldings. He is 16.2 hands high, painted draft, most of us trail ride with a 2 knot rope halter. I feel safer riding him than I have ever felt with any other horse I have ridden so far. Because I’m riding bareback I can feel his shoulders tense up before he ever spooks and I have full control of him at all times. As for natural horsemanship, the only thing natural about riding a horse is this is the position a mountain lion takes before he eats his dinner. We have to look at everything from the horses point of view.

  11. My horse is a Thoroughbred and she is barefoot. I am very glad about that. She is the prettiest mover and I love her very much. We have a bridle with a bit and she loves it. She is very sweet and whenever we take out the bridle she gets all excited. :grin: I could just stand there holding the bridle and she would practically put it on herself. I don’t see what is wrong with a bit. :roll:

    • i sort of agree with you except I have a pony with a sensitive mouth so I have a bitless bridle- but yes there is nothing wrong with bits!

    • Hi Megan,

      It is not the bit that is the problem, it is how the rider uses the reins when they are attached to a bit. A cruel or thoughtless rider can still do lots of damage with a bitless bridle.

  12. I have rescued two horses a Mustang gelding and a Appaloosa mare who came to me pregnant. I know nothing about horses but have them both back in good health and she will foal soon. She was abused and yet is gentle and responds well to kindness. He is protective of her but is also Alpha. I am trying to understand herd dynamics but there is so much to learn. These horses are kept naturally and will not be ridden. She has recently begun to toss her head and I think it might be something to do with her being close to foaling??? Could it be the feed? I need help.

  13. well i have a hores (gypsie vanner) and he is a lovely hansome hores….until you ask him to do something for you e.g. riding. i love riding, but with him i never know what he is going to do! He has already thrown me and my dad off! we weren’t serioulsy hurt, a bit of bruses. But what hurt me the most was that he doesn’t care about us, no matter what we try. I really love him, but i’m also quite scared of him, not just of what he can do to me, but also because i always tell my self ‘he has changed, i know he has’ but every time he lets me down. please help me!! How can i make him love me like i love him?

    • carolyn nelson

      Have you had him checked out by a vet? Maybe he has a back problem which is bothering him when saddled and mounted. Maybe the saddle has a defect or does not fit him properly.

    • I didn’t do anything with my geld for about a month and he became very dangerous. i couldn’t get in the sstall with him. I have talked to alot of horse people and they said he is not properly gelded. I have to work with him at least 10 minutes a day to keep him responsive to me. One good thing to do is to have him circle you in a walk every day. It teaches him a little respect for you.

    • I have a gypsy vanner too. She was a rescue and we got her for free. She was skinny and scared, beaten hungry, and afraid of lots of things. The previous owners had her for a couple days. They told us she bucked and reared and kicked and bit and that she was dangerous. This is not the case. She is the sweetest most beautiful horse ive ever met I have had 0 problems with her. She just needed a family. So just trust him and he’ll know you do. Make him feel like family. :mrgreen:

    • when you said he wont let you ride him. did he start to get angry when you saddle and bridle him :?: was it as soon as you get on :?: was it when you start to use or legs or reins :?: i hope you’ve fixed the problem by now but its easier for others to help they have as must info as possible.

    • Hi Eunice, Been there done that! I have a horse like that and thankfully a friend of mine, who is an experienced rider is helping me out. We are starting out with groundwork (walking and trotting on a lunge line) and we found there were some holes in his training. He probably was only trail ridden behind a more experienced horse – just a follower. And she is working with me as well to build up my riding confidence (I have fallen and been hurt before!). So, bottom line, you can’t beat a little professional help to figure out what is happening. And sometimes, going back to the basics for both horse and rider can get you to the right place! Good luck and best wishes.

    • You need to first get the vet to see if he is sore anywhere. If not do lots of groundwork to gain his trust and respect. Be very careful as you could easily get hurt if you try to ride him before he is ready.

  14. he is a bare-foot, but we don’t have a bitless bridel. He actualy puts his head down when i try and put the bridel on him, he is practically tell me ‘come on, hurry up, put it on already’! so i don’t quite understand why he doesn’t like us asking him to give us a 15 mins ride!

  15. The fact that you admit you are scared of your horse is most likely 95% of your problem. Do you have only the one horse? Do you board or have this horse on your own property? Horses are herd animals and need companionship. When you lead your horse does he follow 2-3 feet behind you, or does he bump into you? When you’re leading him and you stop, does he stop or does he try to run you over?

  16. I’m all into the natural horsemanship stuff… but most of the horses ive ridden have had bits and it dosen’t seem to bother them… and i more prefer when there barefooted they seem to be so much lighter on their feet

  17. I’m looking into leasing my first horse, he’s an absolute sweetiepie named Dusty, part Arabian, probably part Quarter Horse, and probably more. The only problem is that he hasn’t been ridden in years and I’m not sure whether he’s broken. His owner has severely neglected him, not coming to the farm since winter :evil: . She tried to ride him once and he was a perfect angel while she got everything on, but the saddle was too big. It slipped under his belly and he didn’t do a thing, even though she was still attached! So, he’s got a great temperament, but no one knows whether he can be ridden or not, and that’s basically the only thing holding my parents back on the lease. PLEASE HELP! :mrgreen:

  18. Have ridden with soft hackamores for over 30 years and with a variety of horses. Hands down a stiffer hack has offered more control of the “head strong” horse (when on a horses back) without injury to its mouth. The technique necessary to correctly use them pushed me to better riding skills when I was younger. Not much help when driving though -LOL.

  19. I try to let all of my animals run free and as natural as can be. Animals are healthier and happier that way. I am looking into maybe a bitless for my paso but my geld who was not gelded properly can be downright dangerous at times. I used to alwys ride bareback when i was a teen but I have fibromyalgia now and can’t. I would like to get that are comfortable for me and my horse. Does anyone have any suggestions?

    • It used to be fairly common not to geld a horse “properly.” Geldings who did not have every single gram of testosterone-producing tissue removed were called “proud cuts.”

      Riding with fibro: ointment containing capsaicin on your trigger points on hips, thighs and pelvis — Zostrix is the strongest OTC. A535 has a little. I guess you could make it if you had the right peppers.

      It’s never too late to go for a walk on an easy-gaited horse on yielding ground.

  20. I’d like to get comfortable and durable saddles That won’t bankrupt me.

  21. I don’t know if I am ready for the bitless bridle although I do occassionally use the halter and a rope around the neck when I just want a 5 minute walk around the pen sometimes. I also prefer to ride bareback and believe that there is nothing else like it. I bought a retired penning/barrel racing horse a few years ago and it didn’t take too long before I wanted to ride bareback again. I don’t think he had ever been ridden that way as he was somewhat unsure of himself. So that new type of riding experience was something I used to bond with him. Also since I ride bareback, he is less likely to use his barrel racing manuevers on me which is good since my balance isn’t that great.

  22. My mare has Navicular and a bad tendon. Going barefoot won’t work for her as she has to have corrective shoes or is lame.

  23. In the past, I always rode a super fast horse, but after having a gaited paint horse, which I only rode bareback, I have become spoiled to the gentle, smooth gait. l
    After having my back broken racing bareback, I have experienced some physical problems, also b/c of rheumatoid arthritis, so I purchased a Tennessee Walker at a cheap price because he was so spirited and difficult, that almost no one could ride him. We are making good progress. The 3rd time we rode, he spun has me off like a bull while I was still mounting. He hasn’t done this again, but has come very close. We are doing better, but I have never trained a horse. Any tips? Every trainer I asked, said to get rid of the horse, but he is showing an amazing willingness to learn and is making great progress. I can’t give up on him. He has also charged a young child more than once and attacks the other 2 horses in the pasture often. He is defintely the dominant horse, but is jealous when other horses, and even persons get within close proximity of me. Help?

    • Too many good horses out there to put up with that.They are just like people some are good some are gangsters.When this horse kills a child(I said when not if) are you willing to live with yourself and pay for it the rest of your life. You know the horse will attack a child and so do your friends, What if a child wonders into his space it take only seconds You own a 1200lb mean Pittbull dog. Buy your self a gentle horse and put this horse in the ground

      • Well, I know this was like a year ago but if you see this, don’t ever give up on him, he will get better, if you train him and get a stronger bond it will work, you should probably put him in his own paddock with a sign that says don’t get to close, but he should get better, he probably isn’t gelded right, but it shouldn’t matter, as long as he trusts you, you should trust him back and really try to make it work, do not sell him, he will only have a owner that wants him gone, nobody would buy him anyway, but try your best with him, your instinct are more important than any body’s when you ride him, if you learn the hard way, that’s how you learn, not how some stupid trainer ( that claims to be a trainer) thinks.

    • if you can handle the horse then keep him, but it sounds as if you can’t if that’s the case then sadly :sad: you need to sell him.

    • Roxanne Simpson

      put your horse on a lunge and get it to circle you in a slow walk while you stand in the same position (don’t turn with the horse, raise your hand to hold the rope over your head when he goes behind you)after he does it a few times, hold your had up and say “Whoa’ clearly. Then motion him to come towards you, give him a treat and say “Good boy” and rub (not pat) his head. Continue this for a few minutes every day for a week. If he cooperates, add “look down” next week. The circling will teach him respect and look down will help in calming him. He might not be gelded properly. My horse is not gelded properly and he can get quite dangerous at times. I have to constatly work with him to keep him from going “wild”. The operation to fix it is risky and expensive. There are hormone shots you can get at $30 a month if you can afford that.

      • Roxanne,
        I have acquired a wonderful TWH gelding that seems to be highly trained as far as flexing,stretching,and when I whip the ground with my stick. I tried to lunge him but do not know how to ask him and he just kept turning to give me his “two eyes”. I do not want to mess that up! So, my question is, how to get him to lunge? I do not have a round pen.
        We seem to have a few respect issues under saddle and I want to put a stop to it. (He will kick out and crow hop some. He had not been ridden in a year.) Also, he will not take the bit and I do not know if I can handle with a hackamore.
        Thanks so much!

      • There is no way to tell if anyone has tried to aid you,so here goes. Very likely your Tn Walker has never been lunged since it was a yearling. Was it a show or pleasure horse? This can make a big differece. Put him on a long lead shank and keep moving toward his rear. Most Walkers a very intelligent and he will quickly pick up on what you want. Don’t worry about hitting the ground,keep your whip toward his rear cluck or even flip it behind him, simply get him moving as he starts to circle you can then increase the size of the circle and lenght the lenght of the lead or lunge line. Remeber Walkers are not trained like TBs’ or other proformance horses. Neck reining and cattle work along with jumping and ocassionally pulling a load is also something these horses enjoy. Never pad you Walker. Too many of these wonderful mounts have been tortured this way.

      • You can’t sell a horse like that. He’s not safe to sell. Give him to a rescue or to someone who knows what they are doing or put him down. And putting him down might be a better option as sad as that might be.

        I have a horse who was almost a man killer. His fears go up out comes the aggression. But he doesn’t charge at people just for stepping into the pasture. He now has a baby face, but he won’t ever be considered safe even when I’m out driving him. He looks and acts sane but I know if his fears come up, he’ll be a problem. I am constantly checking in to make sure he’s doing well. Luckily, he’s doing very well, but I won’t pass him onto somebody else who doesn’t know his past.

        I have another horse who is autistic. He won’t hurt a flea on purpose, but he will hurt somebody if I’m not constantly watching him. Nobody else is allowed in with him. He too has come a long way. He was starved twice that I know of before he came to me.

        These types of horses takes special handling and cannot just be sold. They need to find someone who knows what they are doing and knows when the horse is too far gone and needs to be put down. :sad:

        • Bintherewonthat

          “I have another horse who is autistic”

          Seriously? A reality check is needed here! Have you ever sat in on a family that has an autistic child?

          Please be careful with your DRAMATIC choice of words (Man – killer / Autistic) .. it is quite offensive to other people who are struggling with this condition with family members.

          Sorry to say, there is a level of intelligence for Autism to occur that horses cannot reach. (Self awareness standards on the Ansell Scale that Metabolically/ Neurologically are impossible for horses to reach)

  24. Thank you for all of the great tips I will definitely use them it helped so much :grin:

  25. Just read the latest post about catching your horse. if your horse likes being with you they will come to you and the chase can be left for others. i attended a Monty Roberts demo and his advice was to not always take your horse from the field only to work. mix it up with some quality grooming time or a an ad hoc feed and they will want to come to you. i have tried it with my two horses and they are almost fighting to get there head in the halter first. hope it helps

    • 100% agree! I spend time with my horse every day (boarded with approximately 60 other horses, not stabled), even if it’s just to walk out to the pasture and schmooze him. If I am out in the field for a purpose other than to bring him in, I make it a point to love on him while I’m out there. For every 3 or 4 days of riding we do, I make sure he gets brought in and completely groomed and then just turned back out. I’ve never had to chase him through the pasture and more often than not he comes to me willingly and walks with me respectfully wherever I want to go even without a halter or lead. I know that I get more out of these experiences than he does, and the bonding opportunities are unbeatable!

  26. Hi
    I have recently started doing a few local horse shows with my Welsh mare. She competes brilliantly but there is one small problem. She is light grey (White) and never stays that colour for long! Someone told me about bleaching there grey horses tail ( :shock: ) which I haven’t even considered. Are there any tips for getting a horse this colour clean? Really hope you can help.
    Many thanks xx

    • bleaching can be dangerous try just grooming washing and leave in conditioner.

    • Check and see if they bleached the entire horse or just the mame and tail? Most of the folks I know wash and bleach the tail with a clorine bleach then rinse it thourghly. Next after the equine had been bathed and conditioned a rinse out coloring of silver or blue is applied. Most of the time the bleach trick is only used on pasture kept horses. Lily is correct bleaching can be very dangerous.

    • My horse id pasture kept, normaly during the winter i barely see her fir as she is so caked in mud! The friend only ever bleached the tail buy im still not a fan of it… Someone suggested using Fairy Liquid. Does anyone know if that works???
      Thanks xxx :smile:

  27. I would love to hear what you have to say, i love my horses and want to learn more. I also like the idea of no bit just not sure about it out on trails or especially new places in case you have to control your horse, if it,s really possible i will do it for my horse. and what about shoes what if your horse is tender footed because he is a little older. can we stop the tenderness.

  28. Hi, How do you go about getting hay tested ?
    thanks Marie

  29. My daughter has a -not throughbred – Arab gelding – he is very nervous and jumpy. Not trained fully but around people all the time, what can we do to help him be less nervous and jumpy? :???:

  30. Hi
    I have just adopted a 3yr-old Thoroughbred from the Horse Care Unit at our local SPCA. He was dumped by his owner, who deemed he had no potential to bring in money on the race track. He has been gelded a week ago. He seems very quiet. Depressed. Can see it not only in the way he stands and walks, but in his eyes too. Very nervous. First meeting I just stood outside the paddock, observing. Radiating love to him. Softly asking him if he would allow me to come into his space. When eventually he came up to me, I spoke very softly to him for a very long time. Telling him everything he has been told before isn’t true. He IS a winner, he won my heart the moment I saw his photo in the newsletter. Told him I love him, what a noble, majestic being he is. He allowed me to touch his neck, then I went on very gently stroking him. After about an hour of what is the beginning to earn his trust, he allowed me up close and I could hug and kiss him. Brushed him a little. I speak very softly and calmly and keep my movements extremely slowly. He allowed me to put on a halter and lead him around in the paddock. I’m trying to find a very good stable yard for him. A suitable one. Staff at HCU told me he can only be backed within 6mnths or so. Please give me all the information how to proceed with him the natural way from the word go – in every respect. We have “connected”, that I can feel. I want to “undo” all the damage done to him at the racing stables, indoctrination he’s a born loser. Visibly he has no selfconfidence.And I want to give him the very best care. As nature intended for these magnificent beings. I’ve read all Linda Kohanov’s books and the Epona way. I also want to learn about T-Touch, massage – everything a passionate horse lover needs to know. From A to Z. Looking forward to hear from you to learn.

    • there is a very good book for retraining OTTBs
      ‘called “Beyond the Track” By Anna Ford
      full of useful information I highly recommend this book

      • Bintherewonthat

        Do you guys have ‘Cesar Milan, dog whisperer’ on TV? Animals live in the moment! Your horse does NOT know anyone thinks he is a loser! If he ‘looks’ like a loser still after having him this long, you need to step up, stop blaming other people and realize that he has not improved because of his current circumstances. Someone else may of created his problems but you have perpetuated them.
        Please DON’T push/ interpret YOUR emotions onto your horse!

        • Bintherewonthat is so right…horses live in the moment, as all the animals God gave us to care for. Step up to the plate & get going & enjoy this wonderful being. Stop pussing footing around.

  31. If! you bang a horse in the teeth with a bit in his mouth you require further education.

    Here’s how you ride a halt, situp! there should be almost! no hand in a halt or a turn.

  32. This piece is so striking it staggers me completely. At various points in my life I’ve been involved with horses, riding and riding schools, at one stage teaching kids and schooling the A-Grade jumpers of the top rider whose stable I worked for. It just didn’t occur to any of us to ride a horse without shoes or bit.

    If I won a lotta cash that’s the first thing I’d do: get involved with and develop a horse farm following the principles I’ve just read about. I’m only 61, and there’s still lots of riding in my not-so-old bones. Nona du Toit

  33. I have a little mare whose energy levels seem to vary so much!I feed her two feeds a day of hi fi with a vitamin supplement tablespoon salt and 1/2lb fibre cubes soaked with a handful of beet flakes she’s 16 (teeth regularly attended to but not brilliant hence soaking)Grass still on field,out and rugged for 8 hrs daily stabled at night with 7lbs hay.We ride out 3-4 times a week,but sometimes she feels very sluggish,others she is energetic and fun.Couild I do better for her,she holds her weight well and is a good doeer.

  34. Hi I have a sweet, well behaved rescue racehorse !She is all of a sudden wasting hay ! Where do I go to check the hay? Also we r on trails that r miles longand i am afraid to trust her not to do ythe 2 minute mile ! lol wr riding her in a ring now !Cannot wait to go on the trails 1 Iam a naturalist by nature . I am using a snaffle she hates contact that is strong .How do I switch to no bit and does that mean a hackamore? Thank u !Lunging hints too Plz !

  35. Hi there,
    there’s some good info on this site! We moved to our farm nine yers ago and local people kept asking if we were opening a riding school (we breed Spanish horses and my six children had ponies so we moved in with a lot of equines!) Anyway after saying ‘no’ a lot of times I gave in and now we have had our riding school for over eight years.

    I went to ‘normal’ riding schools for two years and could just about stay on a pony in walk, trot, and canter. At ten years old I then started riding every day for a man who kept ponies. I was not allowed to read books, he used to say “you dont learn to ride from books, the horse will teach you everything you need to know”. So I had to listen to the horses to learn about them!

    At our riding school we teach horsemanship and riding with balance. If you are balanced on a horse you ride with your body and the hands are ‘extras’. All riders are taught to ride with balance and we have had the same horses and ponies since we opened eight years ago. All of them are quiet, love people and are willing kind rides. All of them ‘turn on a sixpence’ from the seat, like Mark said before ‘with almost no hand’. I have learned so much from my horses, we have 30 now, two stallions, three mares, youngstock and the riding school horses and ponies. A pony and a horse from the riding school hold high jump records! The horses only have front shoes if they need them, our area is rocky and as it has’nt stopped raining for ages the ground is wet, as they live in the field most of the time their feet get soft and they can get footsore and bruised soles. The ponies seem to manage so they are unshod. I have no problem with bits, as I said all riders are taught to ride with balance so the reins are used softly, I rode a horse that I was training to jump on the sunshine tour (a riding school horse – he got 2nd and 4th) in a hackamore to stop him leaning as the hackamore (hard one) presses on the skin of the nose and chin which he did’nt like so he started listening to my seat more and then I could go back to the snaffle. With a bit you can have a contact with the horse which a lot of them like, a hackamore must be ridden with no (or very very light) contact which is good if the rider is balanced and can ride from the seat. All my horses and ponies could be ridden in a headcollar if need be, bitless does not neccessarily mean better, balance is best! Happy horsemanship to all, horses teach us everything, Winston Churchill said “the outside of a horse is good for the inside of a man” all we have to do is listen and learn!

  36. :?: I would like to read your book. But I would like the book. Not to be gluded to my computor. I have had horses for 30 years & always doing there own feet. Never shod. I have retied, realizing my 31 year appy mare well not be around for ever. Putting my 29 year appy mare down, health reasons. Leaving my 12 year old who is great. Was a rescue hores at year old. She is small, but dose the best she can. For the love of horses I keep her. Bought me a 12 year old appy mare. I am learnig so much about horses with her. My other horses were yearling & have been great. This new horse @ 12,had been in small area with cows, than four boys just hoping on her with nothing on but the halter they left on forever. She is doing good, but I need the right help for us. I have had two trainer,s. With not much luck. What about your book? Thank’s Summer

    • Usually not good to leave the halter on perm. Can cause scarring on the nose and is very uncomfortable. Get a trainer that is quite and confident and consistent. If you cannot, the practice those traits yourself and just get on her … the horse will train you! Pressure of any kind on the left (hand, leg, toe, touching with whip … will tell the horse to go right and visa versa… if you are calm, the horse will be calm. Never waive your hands by the eyes and ears. Stand close before you pet the horse so it learns that you trust the horse and therefore the horse can trust you.
      Luck!

  37. Hi!I’m just learning to jump and was learning to canter over them! :grin: !I was wondering if there was any good advice out there on how to improve my connection with the mare I ride undersaddle! :eek: :eek: :eek: :eek: :eek: :eek:

  38. Hi.I just got a 17yr old abrabian. He is so strong headed. He is so stubborn! Have any ideas to help out.

  39. Paniolo Princess

    Many years ago, my Uncle and I were tossing around an idea after watching our horses as they were grazing.

    We all know that a horse feels and is bothered by a fly anywhere on their body. We’ve all seen this. This should tell us that horses have very sensitive skin.

    We began to “test” a theory we came up with. If a horse is bothered by a fly, why in the world do we think they like it when we “pat” them as praise?? Wouldn’t this give them mixed signals? By our voice and mannerisms, they (supposedly) know we’re happy with them. Then we add the “pat”.

    If we “pat” them a little harder, it’s a slap which lets them know we’re displeased with something they did or didn’t do. Granted, horses are extremely intelligent! But even if they know the difference between a “pat” and a slap, what would they prefer?

    My Uncle and I broke ourselves of the terrible habit of “patting” a horse to praise them. Instead we use not only our voices but we stroke them very lovingly. The differences are almost immediate! The bond becomes MUCH stronger once the horse knows you’re NOT going to “pat” it when you’re pleased!

    Which do YOU prefer? Would you rather have someone pat you on the back or rub you on your back? Of course we would rather have someone rub us on the back so why wouldn’t horses prefer this to the “loving pat”?

    For the sake of your horse — for the sake of kindness, thoughtfulness and just *truly* bonding with a horse, **please** stop with the “love pats” and switch to the loving, soothing rubs!!

    Another way to bond with a horse is to do as we Native Americans have done for centuries. Greet every horse by blowing gently up its nose a few times. This really works! Watch strange horses as they meet for the first time. Just as dogs smell each other, horses blow up each others noses. This way they get and remember your scent!

    As for “easy” and “quick” ways to bond with any horse, there is no such thing. Real bonding requires a lot of time and patience.

    We also get tremendous, wonderful results when speaking to a horse in Sioux.

    (This material is copyrighted. All theories come from over 60 years of personal experience as well as talking with and watching countless horses as well as many, many other very experienced horse people.)

    • Bintherewonthat

      That is gold.

    • Stroking the horse is the friendly game that reminds them of their mother’s first touch when she licked them clean. I’m of the same opinion as you, patting is a no go which I see a lot from people who consider themselves to be good horse persons i.e.= show riders show jumping etc. Even at Olympic standard I’ve noticed riders slapping their horses when they’ve done well on the notion they are rewarding that horse. I wonder if it’s just for the benefit of the spectators! Try it on an unsecured horse, stroke it gently, then pat it, I bet it’ll move away from the pat.

  40. :sad: i like reading all your tips and have taken some of them on board however i have a problem as i cant get my 6 month old colt to walk with me until i had him he was with his mum and was not touched by humans i am new to this site hopeful someone can help

    • hi my mare has foundered before, so i searched the heck out of the internet and feed her on a herbal diet, her coat screams inner health, i only use a mix of cold pressed linseed oil, and comfrey oil on her hooves and frogs. the farriers i have used have both commented on how great her hooves are. i haven’t ridden in a bitless bridle yet, but that’s my next step. my biggest lesson was learning to listen to what my horse was saying, it has taken me a good 12 months of solid groundwork to get were we are today, i love that horse and she respects me, perseverance is the key.

    • Hi Sheila, start by sitting in the middle of his yard quietly, without looking at him. When he approaches you sit still and softly talk to him, when he smells your face very softly blow up his nose. Have patience it all takes time.

  41. I have 2 horses that we rescued from starvation from a someone who could no longer afford to feed them in the middle of a drought. He’d already lost 6 horses and we couldn’t bare to see these 2 suffering. We have a ranch with 10.5 acres with plenty of green coastal so we took them in. We don’t know anything about training but have worked with them enough to socialize them and get them vaccinated. They are barefoot but they do need some care. They just aren’t tame enough to get close to. I would really enjoy looking at anything you have to offer to help me get closer to them and to lessen the fear of them. I get so nervous being up close to them but try not to show it. I have fallen in love with them and would prefer to give them to someone who can care for them but will not let them go to just anyone. Thanks

    • Bintherewonthat

      Stacy you have done a great thing :)
      You need to realize that like children, these horses DO NOT KNOW what is good for them. They do not even know that they MIGHT enjoy some time with you! You need to make a small enclosed area to hold them in (for at LEAST a few days) so that they associate YOU with the feed that you are (will be for a few weeks) providing. You don’t have to DO a lot… just put the feed down (in their enclosed area) and they will begin to associate YOU with its ARRIVAL.

  42. I am a brand new horse owner, my 5 yr old mare, Daisy is very green. It’s in my nature to want a loving relationship with her and allow her to be as natural as she can be given the fact that she is in captivity. I have been working with her just going by what I feel and how she feels. I’ve been reading alot about natural horsemanship and actually had a trainer come to teach me more about it. In the first and only session thus far, she hit my horse with the lead rope on her butt because Daisy looked like she was going to kick her with her hind legs. I know safety is important, however I just have such a hard time with this form of discipline despite being told this does not actually hurt the horse. I’d like to know your thoughts on this. I’m not sure I want this trainer to come back despite the fact that she did appear to really know alot about how the horse was going to respond throughout the session.

    • Your riding instructor was perfectly correct to smack a horse that threatened to kick her.

      Look at it this way, its exactly what another horse would have done to your mare.

  43. I say that you cannot go wrong to keep it as natural as possible. I adore my horse, he was Very badly treated by his former owner. I met him at a farm where the Lady have a lot of abused horses that she had resqued and she taught me to be natural.

  44. I use a barefoot farrier and my horses feet have never looked so good and I also use natural horsemanship to train my 4 year old. I have another horse that I sent away for training and she came back worse than when she left, we figure she was drugged every time we went to see her. I started natural horsemanship training with her and she is now a different girl, and I have really not done a lot with her, but I now have her respect. I am always willing to learn more and I think it is important to keep an open mind when venturing into new waters. Do you really want to make your horse do something, anybody can do that the art is getting your horse to WANT to do it and when that happens it will blow your mind!

    • its horrible when a trainer ends up ruining a horse. sounds like you’ve done a great job repairing the damage so far. Keep it up.

  45. Hey, i take horse riding lessons at a local stable yard but the horse i usually ride is very stubborn. if he is not behind another horse, he becomes stubborn and cuts through the middle of the arena, tries to cut in front of the others and doesnt listen to what i ask him to do, how can i stop him doing this? :lol: :roll:

    • Take more lessons, to gain a good seat and a firm riding ability. Also perhaps see if you can have some lessons with this horse doing groundwork under the instruction of an experienced trainer, to develop a respect and a relationship.

      Your horse is blatantly ignoring you and your partnership needs working on.

  46. I have a 5 year old mare, green broke with not many hours on her. I do not have a round pen and every time I try to get her to move she comes straight towards me. I need to learn how to lunge and work in a round pen. Any suggestions?

    Thanks

  47. Louisa Esterhuizen

    I have cold case evidence of praying for horses, which i am prepared to share as well. I will love to continue to support and be part.

  48. I have a 9 month old foal. I got him at 6 months of age as completely unhandled. The day we took him was the day he was weaned from his Mum. I’ve done a lot with him, I leave him without a headcollar and I can get it on and off of him easily enough and lead him around. But i’m confused. I have some people telling me it’s best to turn a youngster away til it’s older, and others that say completely different. It doesn’t seem right to just leave him because he’s so sweet and inquisitive. I just don’t know what my next step in training should be and could do with some tips :) He’s turned out with my 19yr old gelding and they get on like a house on fire! So it only seems right to treat him the same way I treat my old boy!

    • i would say keep handling him if you handle him when hes young hes used to humans when hes older and you can space out training out instead of trying to teach everything at once.
      another thing, is he gelded? the younger they’re gelded the sooner the horse recovers. so if you intent to geld your horse the sooner the better.

  49. Yes, I have always tried to stress to people to drop the bits, shoes, and the crazy heavy Blankets I see so many people using. The one thing that drives my horse friends crazy. Is I never use a saddle, except when I am in starting someones horse, because later down the road I know they are going to put that dead peace of leather on their poor Horse. My Sapphire was given to me 6 years ago, when no one could train her, it blew their mind, when I started her with no bridle and no Saddle, she comes running when I call, no need for halters, even when trimmed or brushing, she has free roam, and a very big warm Box stall, where she can go in or out. I know Horses do love their masters, and have deep respect for them. Been starting Horses for 55 years now, and still can’t get horse people to really listen to their Horses. But I have been trying for years to stress this and I still see hardly any results with the owners. How in the world. Can we get horse people Novice and experts to listen to us. Thank you for your time.

  50. Would like some tips on fly control? what works? Thanks.

  51. Susanne Hatesohl

    anyone out there have some advise : after serious muscle / nerve damage during a foaling gone wrong, i have had my mare on vitamin e/ selene supplement for about 3 years now . doing very well on it. is there any harm in giving this permanently or am i risking liver damager ?

    • Consult with a vet who knows your horse well. It may be necessary to do blood tests to see your horses vitamin e/selene levels.

  52. I would definitely agree that going as natural as possible is very beneficial to your horse. Let your horse out in the pasture, ride bare back, and listen to what your horse is telling you.I would like to say though that if your bridle is fitted correctly and you are riding correctly the bit shouldn’t be banging into your horses teeth, there are no teeth in that part of their mouth (the gap being natural). Secondly I’d like to address the “barefoot always” mentality. Not every horse, and not in every circumstance is barefoot right for every horse. I’ve seen horses that have been barefoot their entire life go to shoes and it being the BEST thing for them. She had very sensitive front feet…just poor genetics. Also if the type of riding you are doing ( riding in the mountains, extensiveness training or riding on rocky ground), is causing a lot of ware and tare on your horses feet, shoeing is something you just need to do as not to ware the feet right off your horse. Of course if your horse has a medical/ foot problem shoeing also might be the right thing for your horse. I guess what as riders we need to remember is why horse shoes were even invented…to protect their precious horses feet! Food for thought! To sum up, I’m saying that a person should stay as natural as possible with their horse….but sometimes strict natural methods aren’t what’s best for your horse. CHEERS! :razz:

    • Ruth E. Cross

      yes’yes youare so right///

    • I do agree. The bit is not the problem. The hands behind the bit is the problem. Same with shoes, if a horse needs it, then the horse needs it. No questions asked.

      People need to remember that natural horse care is looking after a horse like it would live in the wild. And with some horses (usually the kind who are old and skinny requiring rugs, or have navicular and require correct shoeing) would DIE in the wild. So not having them die means that it is necessary t adjust your care program to cater for their needs. Strive for natural horse keeping, but its better to have a pain free horse than one that’s freezing cold or footsore.

  53. I love my horses. I use a piece of twine around the nose of my 6 yr old OTTB and my 5yr old QH/Paso cross or a hack on my 5yr old when im doing pleasure riding. I also ride bareback. But i do rodeos and they require a bit more of control because my Tb still gets that urge to keep running through the twine hack or halter. same with my QH/paso. I use a simple snaffle that has about 1.5 inch shank and for my QH/paso(who has a hard mouth) i use a sherry Cervi dog bone bit. With their respective bits my horses listen just fine and i dont have to drag on their mouths or anything. Also as for shoes i do not shoe my qh/paso because his feet are the strongest ever. the Farrier has complained that his feet are so strong that its hard to trim them. But my TB has the weakest feet ever. I really dont want to put shoes on her because they are really expencive around where i live. What would be a good choice? are there some good suppliments that anyone here has used that could help me toughin up her feet. I tried Hoofflex but it only helped to take out the cracks in her feet not actually toughen them up. In the winter i do riding in the hills and lots of riding on roads and in the summer i do rodeos. and my horse is my main mode of transportation

  54. I’ve used the bitless bridles almost exclusively with my 3-year old TWH – not a hackamore, which can be dangerous – but a Nurtural bridle or Dr Cook’s bitless bridle, which use gentle “head hugging” pressure to guide the horse. Other horse people said I wouldn’t be able to control my horse, but the only times I’ve tried to use a bit my horse let me know he was not happy. If you watch videos or use a trainer that can teach you basic groundwork (lungeing, flexing, leading)you will have a respectful horse that can be controlled. I board my horse 2 hours away so can’t see him as often as I like and wanted to just ride without doing the groundwork. That was a big mistake! You must be comfortable on the ground before you ride! A very useful technique my trainer taught me was the “one-rein stop” or basically flexing your horse to one side to stop. This has saved me a couple of times when my horse got spooked. Do your homework, watch videos on natural horsemanship.

  55. Hi, can anyone tell me what they call the piece of equipment that farriers use to rest the horses hoof on. I have a shoulder injury and need to buy one as I have trouble keeping the horses back feet up on my knee.
    Thanks in advance.

    Vicki from Perth Western australia

  56. Very interesting.GOOD TO SEE A VARIETY OF OPINION
    Agree with the people saying All right for some horses but not for others.
    Have tammed two horses myself and just worked on their curiosity for a start and didnt push the relationship,waited till they wanted to meet me.
    worked on their jealisy also ,by playing one against the other.
    i dont think horses in general are in a great hurry to have a human friend ,their main objective is food hand outs.
    A cat similer tho cat wants efection.
    A dog You cant beat as they are givers
    But in every animal is a personality
    YOU MUST WORK OUT.

  57. Hi, I havent ridden for about 17 years and have recently been given the ue of a horse which the frm thinks is about 20 odd years old, unsure as he was there when they managers took over farm….so we have no knowledge of training, etc….I have started lunging her and she has great ground manners, doesnt invade your space, stands still when mounting, doesnt bite, rear, never seen her buck,and she willing excepts the bridle but she does have 2 faults whenever I go to get on her she just wants to take off,and I can only catch her if she is in the cattle yards….I am a less confident rider now I find after a few accidents earlier in life, but i have missed not having a horse in my life and want to build a trust with her, just hard not knowing anything about her….I am wondering if she is just too old and set in her ways, though 6 months ago she was being ridden bareback and in a halter by a younger girl…can you help with any suggestions?….

    • I think I would have her checked out by a vet to see if there are any back problems. I have a 22 year old who wasn’t ridden for about 4 years and we are both being retrained (I, too, had accidents in my riding past and am less than confident and he is a bit rusty). So, I would persevere and maybe get a trainer that you trust to help. It made a world of difference for me. Also, maybe lunge her with the saddle on to get more used to being under saddle; maybe that is the issue. Work on walking then halting and backing up to get control of her. Good luck and never give up!

  58. Hi Morissa;
    One hoof supplement you might try is Horseshoers Secret, but you have to stay with it for at least 6 months or more to see any improvement. I have my 2 rescues on it and my farrier who is a barefoot specialist says that their feet look great. She always shows me where the new growth is coming in and where I started to feed them the Horseshoers Secret when I got them! It really works if you feed it long enough. :-)

  59. :smile: Will gratefully take all info you have
    Jerry

  60. Frederick Booth

    I enjoy reading the information on this site and your honesty in posting opinions of others even when they don’t agree with yours,including the one comment about not wanting to read your book only online.Is it possible to purchase your books through the mail by check and have sent via internet and then I could print them at my farm on my printer?I do not purchase anything directly by internet because of fears of security and the hassles of passwords.Our farm already has to many passwords to keep track of!Fred

  61. I have enjoyed your emails and for some reason have stopped receiving them. I hope by contacting you I will receive them again.
    Val

  62. I too would gratefully take any info you are willing to share. Tomorrow we are actually getting our first horses in hopes of doing some therapy training with our child who has a form of autisim

  63. Hi!
    I am a new horse owner and read everything I can. I’m absolutely in love with my horse. I’m a beginner, however, and he did buck someone off him once. So I’m taking it really slow. Bonding, groundwork and soon riding in a sand paddock. There are miles of beautiful trails around, but feel that we should be really communicating well together and that I should feel really comfortable at trotting and cantering. He’s very affectionate with me, but will sometimes refuse to go back into the stall after I take him for a walk. I’m interested in learning to overcome things like that without yelling or slapping him on the rump like some of my horse friends do with their horses and say I need to do with mine. So your site seems like a perfect fit for me. I’ve also noticed he doesn’t like a bit in his mouth. Because I’m a beginner, I was thinking of first trying a hackamore. Any suggestions on which type of hackamore?

    • A horse should follow you wherever you ask, but some horses are claustrophobic and don’t enjoy their stall. Perhaps desensitizing him to his stall, hiring a bigger stall or (even better) just turning him out would work? Either way, get a good trainer to help you so you can build a trust that makes him willing to go where you ask.

  64. Horses are the link between wild and domesticated.
    We have so much to learn from them. Just look with how much they put up and still always just give unconditionally back to us!!

  65. I liked your advise re: riding without a bit. I have 3 horses, 2 of which are older guys. My 3rd is still too young to ride. The 2 older guys were always ridden with a bit b4 I got them. They do fine, or even better without.

  66. The first horse I owned was a yearling gelding I fell in love with. He was spunky and I never trained a horse in my life. I was up for the challenge. I read all the books that catered to a gentle and loving manner of training a horse. I was unable to ride him at such a young age so we had 18 months to get to know each other and build a bond. That had to be, hands down, the most rewarding experience of my life. We had such a bond that when he heard my car pull up or if I called his name he would come running to me. If I were out with him he would follow me like a puppy. I had people stop just to watch this and they would ask me how I did that. Well I did it over a long period of time. Slow and steady, with no reprimanding, just made sure I did it the same way every time so he knew what I expected from him. Anything new we did, I started with telling him, showing him slowly and repeat, repeat, repeat. Calm voice and loving rewards. I didn’t train my horse; I built a trusting relationship with him. One I will cherish for ever. I just got 2 rescue horses and I see the response from them. I was told quarter horse/draft was a handful. But he is responding very well to my ways. Good luck to all of you. Horse people are like none other.

  67. I completely agree with you about horseshoes. My horses have never worn any, and i love it. I also ride without a bridle majority of the time, and my horse has never had a problem with it.I have three horses, two mares and a shetland pony. they are all very lovable even when they’re stubborn, haha.

  68. Lucy Cifuentes

    Yes, I will like to know what you have to say and pass it on to my grandaughter, 12 years old. Both of her horses are on the bit because one tends to run away (Haflinger) and the other is a young horse who is 16.2. I am afraid (but I don’t tell her) that he will run away with her (it is in his blood) How will be manage not using a bit. Any little advice will help…

  69. Frederick Booth

    I miss your e-mails! I was able to find you again because I remembered some key words to provide to my search engine. Your website is full of interesting topics and we enjoy reading them. We agree with Jeannie in the handling of horses. Our first horse, Turk was at times a handful and We started out in the horse industry not knowing much except not using any hard or rough methods. Patience and trust between us all was and is very important! We have started many horses and taught them to walk, trot and gallop without ever using a whip or spurs! We feel for most horses that have been handled with respect and patience whips ,spurs and round pens are not needed. Fred and Joan.

    • Fred & Joan: I am starting where you started with my 7 yr old rescue mare. I have no round pen and was beginning to believe success wouldn’t be possible w/o one. You have given me hope back! I will persevere! I am currently waiting to receive my LightRider Bitless Bridle in the mail.

  70. margaret wilson

    This is Margie and Liz is comming to live with me my first horse she is a rescue horse and i am very excited indeed to be able to help her, I love the natural way you are all speaking about and would love to gather info that will help me when she first arrives thanks Margie

  71. Love this site so many nice people just willing to help xx

  72. Shirlee Shrum

    About three weeks ago I acquired a wonderful horse. He is 16 years old and 16 hands and weighs about 1200 pounds. You can see the love in his eyes and he is so willing to please and he love to be touched. He will put his nose on my face for a kiss. When I saddled him and got on him for the first time it was like heaven. When I go down to his corral he is waiting for me. I do take him apple snacks and he loves them. He follows me around like a puppy. I love Duce! I spend a minimum of three hours a day with him. He is barefoot and I use a hackamore.

  73. zelda zella oosthuizen

    :cry: hey guys i urgently need help i have 3 horses one completely wild the other a lil old and my 7 year old arab cross boerperd i have had her for about a year now and i just cant ride her everytime i get on or try toget on or even just try mounting her she bites the bit so i thought maybe she has a sensitive mouth so what i did is i repaced the metal piece witha rubber bit and nothing has changed she is cheeky i can hardly brush her she pulls her ears back and moves away i love her so much and it just seems as shefeels nothing for me does any1 have any tips for me i can maybe use so i can have a beter relastionship with my horse? i love horses(and animals) dearly and would do or giveanything to see them happy i have a bit experiance with horses but since i fell off i have become rather a little scared can anyone pls help me???? i am in desparite in need of help thanx zelda

    • That is the problem as you stated ” a little scared”. Your horses pick up on this & that is why you are having difficulty. What is there to be scared of ? These are loving & a gift from God. Give them the respect they deserve. Ask God to overcome your fear & you shall suceed.

  74. Hi. I am a oldie on my second childhud love horsesand have the time to put into them. So need all the help l can get. Living in w.aust the pastures are much diffrent to england. ,any help l can get will help my horse he had a badinjoury to his bak leg and has been slow to heal. We have good contact with each other l can massage the muscle and tendon area. Which he now loves.my tex is not too good as l said l am willing to learn my daughter said l am a pain as my fingers are too slow for my brain. Sand

  75. i really love the way you teach us how to look after our horses
    lots of love from
    Kelly,Amy and Jess :wink: :grin:

  76. Hi all I am new rescued a appaloosa he is gilded and very spooky I do not know nothing about horses . He has a halter on its too small no one can get close to him its got to come off he will come up to the fence and you can just touch his nose he will eat out of your hand help me

    • Poor baby… there must be a sad story to him but thank God you rescued him!
      Seems as if he would learn to trust you as you continue to pour out love to him (AND PRAYERS).
      Let me tell you… I am not a bible thumper but I am a Christian that speaks with love and I can tell you that I am a novice too though I have had my two horses for 9 years… lol.
      PRAYER WORKS! I have always asked God (Who by the way created them) to help me as I work with them and for HIM to speak to my horse. After all, He had a donkey speak to Balaam in the bible (Numbers 22:21-41 if you’re interested) so He can speak to your horse just as well.
      Keep the faith and keep learning through these professional handlers like Al here.
      HUGS!

  77. Hello!!
    After a very long time, I am returning to one of my first loves…horses. So much has changed. I look forward to learning as much as I can before I take the leap back into having another horse friend…and so far, I like what your telling me!!! I look forward to hearing more!

  78. Churchmouse-3525

    Hi all, I’ve so enjoyed reading everyone posts. I just finally got my first horse today. I like the idea of no shoes, touching your horse gently, letting your horse live free not in a stable, riding bareback when possible, and not using a bit. I plan on reading more about as many natural ways to take care of my horse as I can. I also like the idea of taking time to brush your horse some days and not riding them, just a day for them like a spa day. Thanks everyone.

  79. I’ve been riding for about 40+ years. I’ve always brushed and cleaned feet prior to tacking up. I didn’t know about proper fitting saddle, bridle, etc. Just hopped up and rode. I’ve learn alot watching the RFD channel, I find much of the information interesting, helpful and useful.
    To bad for me, old habits die hard. My current horse of 15 years, and I understand each other very well. I love him so much.
    Although I think he might appreciate a softer way of doing things.

    THANKS FOR ALL YOU DO! :wink:

  80. :razz: yes i noticed when i use a bit on my horse she fights it and does better with just a rope halter
    so thats what i use i refuse to use a bit after i saw a friend try to bit her and she reared straight up that tells me someone has been very hard on her mouth

  81. My 1st horse was a head-tossing 17 hand Thoro/Quarter cross. There was no way a bit would go anywhere near that mouth – due to the horse’s opinion. I learned to ride using a hackamore. It was great. The horse was more comfortable, I learned to use quiet hands. I often wonder what it would have been like if there had been more natural horsemanship at that time. The horse could be ‘good’ or she’d have her days. She also did not care for company of other horses; a definate loner. After learning on a hackamore, I’ve always hesitated using bits but they always seem to be what the current horses are used to.

  82. I thnk it would be interesting if NOT hard feeding your horse, and NOT rugging your horse, and NOT shoeing your horse… cost as much…and took as long as DOING these things…
    I guess we’ll never know (whether it’s easier, quicker & cheaper to NOT *hard feed*shoe*rug)

  83. My first horse was a mix of TWH, Belgian and Arab with most being Arab. He was abused by the person who owned his mother as a young colt. He was gelded as a yearling. Another person took him away from his abuser and put him with her horses where he taught these people how not to trust him.

    HISTORY: When someone would reach over the railing to pet him he would reach out to bite. I knew the body language and the owner informed me he has bitten. When he reached for me and pinned his ears back (knew he was going to try to bite)I reached for his upper lip and did a nice pinch/twist/pull and he backed off very fast.

    When you went out into the pasture with him he would swing his rear at me. The owners had also been kicked in the pasture by this horse. When he swung his hip to me for the third time I reached over and gave him one hard slap on his rear. He did the boot scooting boogie away from me and never offered to kick in the pasture again.

    When the owners saw his reaction they knew I took the upper hand away from this horse. They gave him to me as he had never responded so well to a person before.

    I spent 6 weeks of hard ground work building him up as if he was an unbroken horse. I patched all of his wholes and taught him to respect from the ground up. After owning him for 4 years I sold him to an 11 year old. Yes, he was ready to move on to a good life.

    I had another horse, a QH about 6 years old. She was in your pocket but never been lunged. I got her to start listening and did mass ground work (1 year) prior to putting a saddle on her back. She had a scar on her left cheek from (what I was told) Barbwire. This left nerve damage to her mouth where a bit was more dangerous (she didn’t feel you pulling the bit) as it caused me to have a broken collar bone requiring 8 screws and a metal plate. Once I healed I put a hackamore (soft nose) on her. She did better but still wasn’t responding quit like I want a horse to respond. On our last ride she didn’t want to walk the road and went up an embankment and slid down, breaking my right elbow in 3 places. Hubby made me get rid of her. She is now a pasture pet for someone else.

    I purchased a solid paint next 3 years old, unbroken with 30 days of training. She was never ridden and grew up as a “pasture pet” until I purchased her. I spent 1 year letting her know I would not hurt her before beginning her training. The first time I put a saddle on her she bucked out 5-6 times and never offered to buck again. (No discipline for this first time behavior as I wanted to be able to read her). I started her with a full cheek snaffle so I could teach her what the reins mean. She graduated to a straight shank for neck reining and just graduated to a hackamore (soft nose) and is the best horse I have ever owned.

    Just recently I took her on her first independent ride and she was awesome. She didn’t even cry out for her buddy like her buddy did for her. I took her to the mountains on a very hard trail (didn’t know it was listed as “very hard” until we got back home. OMG this horse is awesome.

    All my horses are trained on natural horsemanship. I watch and read their body language before we move onto the next step. All are natural barefoot with the mustang roll. While my husband’s horse has already been trained for bareback, mine has not. We are planning on taking her swimming again at which time I will be pulling her saddle off to see what her response will be.

    I agree, leave the “love pats” out of your praise. This isn’t something horses really enjoy and when it comes time to correct dangerous behavior you may not get the same results after teaching your horse these pats are ok.

    I do believe in the 3 second “kill” where when a horse does something dangerous (attempt to kick on ground, bites, pushes (dangerously) or any other behavior which is threatening. The three second kill is used only for three seconds where the horse will swear you are going to take him out. Trust me that behavior will never be repeated and is what the head herd master would be doing in the wild.

    I also raise donkeys; my Jack defeats the warning about “Jacks” being the most dangerous farm animal. Though I know Michael will not hurt a person intentionally and can be handled with very little effort, we do still warn people Jacks are dangerous and to give him respect by not visiting him without either my husband or myself being there to hold him.

    My husband’s horse was kept shod as a yearling until we got him. His feet were just like a donkey’s which most of us know isn’t good on the coffin bone. Once he was in our care we stripped the shoes off and conditioned him for bare feet. He’s awesome now and his feet are like a horse’s feet should be. His previous owners thought a horse needed grains more than hay and fed accordingly. This horse was being fed 25 lbs. of grain a day. When we took him off the grain we dealt with cracks and abscesses for 2 years before his feet finally started healing right.

    Some people don’t know what it takes to own a horse. They don’t realize you cannot make a 1200lb animal do what they don’t want to do. You cannot put tack on a horse that is uncomfortable and expect them to listen to you. After all, do you listen when you are not feeling well or hurt? Probably not.

    Thank you for doing this book, I have read every trainer’s book out there and use a little bit of everything in my training. What works for one horse may not work for the next.

    And most importantly of all, to those who are buying green/untrained horses that are green and untrained themself. Please don’t mix green on green as it’s just an accident waiting to happen and these types of accidents are often the most fatal of accidents. Make sure you have an experienced trainer or handler there with you when working with a green horse. I do understand wanting to train your own horse but sometimes it’s best to be left with the professionals.

  84. Judy Choquette

    I had our Peruvian Gelding trained with Bitless Bridle (Indian Bosal)
    he is 4 1/2 and he is such a soft touch listens to the lightest touch and treeless saddle for easy body connection he is great see now reason to bit him have always hated bits
    and we go barefoot as well
    he moves so beautiful so can’t see why we should change what God gave him
    Bits have side effects for some horses
    we did have his wolf teeth out for a few reasons
    he has great teeth and we only feed good bermuda hay and vit/min if hay isn;t high in it;s protein and mineral contents ,no alfalfa or heavy oats and no processed feeds due to fact they are all very high in crude fats horses do not need piles of crude fats
    becareful if feeding bagged feeds talk to your vet they will never stir you wrong

  85. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE your writings! MAKES sense and is exactly what I feel. God bless you!

  86. I definately agree with that. I see horses with fancy martingales and harsh bits, but I think it just makes their behavior worse to put them in that tack, because they get fidgetty and worked up. I’d just let hem have their head and then they would have anything to fight. :lol:

  87. I normaly only ever ride in a saddle for road work (because of the law) but the rest of the time I just ride bareback, because it’s more enjoyable plus you don’t have to bother about styrup lengths and you can’t get draggd easily if you fall off. :razz:

  88. loved reading th is info on a shoeless horse, that is my feeling exactly, I grew up in N D, we never put shoes on our horses, those of use who love horses
    understand exactly what you are talking about.
    I often think of the song, God must have been a cowboy at heart, considering Jesus is coming back on a great white horse – – –
    God bless you and yours, Rose

  89. Paniolo Paints and Quarter Horses

    Hooray for you! Another person has learned to speak equus. I’m no great and famous trainer. I’ve taught my daughter and anyone who has ridden my horses over the years that horses my not be Mr. Ed but they are talking to you everyday. You just have to learn to listen. I’m also a proponent of the bitless bridle and the soft hackamore (which is just a piece of soft leather with fleece lined and 2 metal pieces on the side to attach reins. We even ride my stallions the same way. Why? Because we learned to talk to our horses and bonded with them. They are now our partners in life!

  90. My sister has just rescued a horse from a very bad situation , neglected and malnourished .
    he’s come on good but he needs excersise how do you fit or size a saddle to each individual horse so that it is comfortable for him

  91. :sad: my pony bucks as soon as i touch her with my dressage drop do u know what to do :?:

  92. I never got your pdf document thank you ;)

  93. I ride all my horses in a Parelli hackamore, whether it is in the arena or on the trail. I love it and so do my horses.

  94. Linda Worthington

    Always open to new ideas, even if they come from the old ways.

  95. both my horses are barefoot, I have a fantastic barefoot trimmer, I never use a bit in my horses mouths, people ask my doesn’t it scare me riding without a bit, my answer to that is, bit or no bit if your horse wants to take flight it will. why do people feel safer with a unnatural piece of metal in their horses mouths :?:I don’t use saddles either, my horses never feel restricted, iv done natural horsemanship with my horses for several years, the bond we have is amazing, and my horses can express themselves, its so beautiful. I love horses. xx

  96. How do I bond with my horse?

  97. :roll: yes I would like to have a better relation & understanding with my horses & ride without a bit.
    I put alot into having my mare train [for 5 months] & still afraid to ride out of the pasture.

  98. I sadly lost my wonderful mare after 25 yrs together, I went barefoot and bitless about 10 yrs ago and was amazed with the change in her, I went bitless because I couldnt stop her in a bit, she was to fast and threw her head about to evade the bit, I changed to bitless in the middle of a jumping lesson when she was galloping round out of control. What a difference, the change was instant and I never went back to a bit again, I did Cross country, show jumping and Le Trec bitless and always won ribbons. I went barefoot because I couldnt afford the farrier when I lost my job and again would never go back to shoes, no more slipping on roads. I now tell my experiences to anyone with a problem horse to give bitless a try it gave me brakes and a very happy horse :grin:

  99. My horse has started nodding. This is not from flies. It is quite compulsive and excessive in the afternoon. Any ideas?

  100. A couple of days ago while out driving, I came across a horse with such severe laminitis that I could have knocked her over by poking her with one finger. She could barely stand and was practically sitting on her haunches. She had no water within reach and the bucket had about 2 inches of sludge in it. I spoke with the owner who claimed he had “rescued” her last summer. Anyway, he admitted he knew nothing about horses. Since I came onto his property uninvited, I paid for some bute and to have her looked at by my shoer. I also brought her a blanket because she could not move around sufficiently to keep warm. The owner does understand she has to stay off pasture so she is eating low nutrient hay. The problem is that she is severely underweight (after she got some fresh water she could reach, though, she started to eat). I will call the vet to see what he says (he’s away on vacation) She is looking better after a trim and bute, but, in the meantime, any ideas to help he gain weight without worsening laminitis as the result? The shoer mentioned that he thought oats might be okay but I need confirmation so will be calling another vet. The shoer stated she had foundered in the past, too. The owner would give her to a good home but I already have 3 horses with no extra room. I am going to try to find a good home for her but am nervous that as she improves, he’ll decide to keep her. Calling the authorities does no good around here so I am working on educating the owner. Any further input would be appreciated, especially with regard to feed.

    • Try speedy beet if you can get it. Is a low sugar feed for susceptible horses

      • Have you had her teeth checked? I have ponies all my life and I am still learning. I have had one come to me last year that had severe weight loss and laminitis. He had an infection in the mouth. He had to have some extractions and other dental work plus, Bute and an anti-biotic, feet done, Rugged and started on plain chaff with minerals. This pony is now doing great. Not lame, has not founded since, looks fantastic and is being ridden by my daughter.

        All and any feed must be introduced slowly (start with either wheaten or oaten chaff; 1/2 a laundry bucket each day gradually increase to one bucket) and you need to lock the horse up in a yard with clean water. If there is heat in the feet hose each for ten min per day or stand horse in bucket of water. If the horse has seedy toes you may need to vet rap and some special rubber (vet or farrier supplied (mine came from Clark Rubber and was supplied from Castlemaine Vets All Natural)) cut to shape of hoof. This will take the pressure off the sole of horses feet. Try to get the horse walking as soon as it can, this will stimulate the blood and keep it of hot foods and sugar foods as laminitis is like our diabetes. It can be controlled but, can easily come back in this horse if you can beat this round.

        If you can not take this horse on I think the best thing for this horse would be to rehouse it with some-one that would see to all it’s needs. Try to convince him to place it on Gum-Tree.

  101. What is your opinion of riding bareback?

  102. I am certainly in favor of barefoot if the ground you intend to work on is suitable. In some very rocky areas (like parts of TX for example) are just not suitable and either shoes or boots are absolutely necessary if you plan to ride at all. Regarding bits, bitless bridles are perfectly fine, especially for trail riding, but understanding the use of the bit (it is not for stopping it is for gentle connection and acceptance) is even better. Hands must NEVER pull or yank.

  103. Hi hoping to be added to your email list really enjoy reading all the comments and love your website thanks

  104. Hi Ali,
    I just love your site and your emails please keep them coming.. I have 2 questions for you.. I have a draft that I have had trouble keeping sound tried almost everything was thinking of trying the traumel as I think some of his problem is arthritis is weighs about 1200lbs . How much should I give him and how often. Also I have a tennessee walker that I would like to try using a bitless bridle on but everyone tells me that I wont be able to keep him in gate… has anyone with a Walker used a bitless and do they have problems with this???
    Thanks so much,
    Sherry

  105. I’m sure those tips will help me heaps with my horse.

  106. While I agree that some bit-less bridles are theoretically best, understand that training comes from timing and feel in the rider, not from the equipment. A horse well trained can be ridden without any equipment at all. Bits, if adjusted correctly do not hit the teeth, unless the horse moves it around, in the instance of a jointed mouth. Some bit-less bridals such as the Brockmore (commonly referred to as the mechanical hakamore) can be brutal on the highly sensitive nerves on the jaw. Also rope tied halters,are designed with the knots placed to put pressure on the sensitive areas of the face, the rawhide bosal can also cause pain to the jaw. This being said finding the right bit-less is important, but better yet, learn to be a good rider. Learn good timing and feel so no matter what you choose to ride with you will always be “in control”. Communication, never domination. But it is not the equipment it is the hands that control the equipment. It is an art. Like any other art form it’s all in the feel of the subject.

  107. I own a brumby and like to do everything as natural as possible and he thirves on it. Worm him with garlic on a full moon and gets apple cidre vinegar and we have no problems at all with worms and NO bots

  108. John F.Farrington

    I ride a very strong Hafflinger mare in a Dr Cooke’s bitless bridle and have done ever since she came to me as a green four year old .At no time have I ever felt lacking control except when Carmen suffered a severe fright .A huge tractor carrying a large round bale of hay came round a blind bend to our shame she did turn and run but I have watched jockeys dealing with fractious horses and my instincts kicked thus preserving the partnership.Ant horse can run through the most severe bit if feels the need and I truly believe that had I been using a bit the resulting pain would have creted more difficult problems .I am sixty seven years old disabled by arthritis after suffering injuries working in the forest and on the rugby field which meant that some years my ankles had to be surgically united ,my arms are like tree trunks and I weigh fifteen stone Hang that lot on a bit use it roughly and rebellion will occur.I live in west Wales where the hills are steep and a rider must be able to give his steed adequate support on the downhill ,a bitless bridle is reaaly good for doing that .Pob lwc i chi cadw yn marchogaeth John Farrington

  109. Jennifer Lawson

    My mare Belle just turned 11 she has been getting a bed adittude
    I raised her from. 7mths old broke her trained her shes over all a good girl
    But i havent been ridding much,and shes starting to bit people and she nipped at me
    The other day i should of lunged her but i didnt have a lead rope handy i smacked her
    On th mouth.what do i do to stop this nasty habbit she really hurt a freind of mine

  110. Jennifer Lawson

    Ive rode bitlesss since Belle was 3 after i trained her with a full check
    Snaffle .then i put in a side pull hackamore to continue
    Teaching the one rein stop .now i ride in a mechanical hackamore and been in one for6 yrs and ive always went barefoot i do take boots with me in case we go somewhere really rocky like riverrock or a very long rough gravel rd

  111. Hi
    I have a question about cherry trees. I am new to horses I just have 3 new ones first time owner. I am making my pasture bigger and more room for them to run. But there are a lot of cherry trees I have been cutting them down to open it up some for grass. I heard that both leaves and bark will kill a horse I have seen pastures with them in and horses. I would like any thing anyone has to say about this they also say the same about oak trees any help would be great. Thank you

  112. Hi, we recently bought 4 wild horses, they donKt know what a bit or saddle is, wat worries me not use a bit is the problem with their nose if you pull to hard down you may injure the nose how do you go about not doing that? Please give advice if you can. Thank you

  113. we bought a horse named pepa he is really stubbon and never stops scratching :shock: :shock: :shock:

  114. :cool: my Arab was in training with Me in w.pleas and she always had chiropp treatment. So I stopped and moved hwt to pasture board 24/7. And after 1 yr Stormy shoes were removed 2 wks before moving it has been 1 yr now of bit less and shoeless and finally to a show bridle and no bit and is doing flying lead changes. +++ and a great trail horse and my best friend! We have Fun. She is in a herd of about 30 and is a very very happy horse not living in a muddy poppy paddock with nothing to do but chew hay. We R very happy two some. Thank U for this qebsite

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