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The revolution in horsemanship (Proceedings)

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Aug 01, 2008

During the eighth decade of the twentieth century a change in horsemanship began in the Pacific Northwest of the United States of America. Several horsemen in Northern California, adjacent states, and Idaho began to do public "clinics," demonstrating and advocating a styled of horsemanship that depends primarily upon persuasive, gentle methods of manipulating and shaping equine behavior, rather that the forceful, coercive, and often inhumane methods of methods that have prevailed in all horse cultures throughout history.

The author retired from veterinary practice in 1987, and decided to devote his remaining active years to supporting the efforts of these trainers, and their protégés by lecturing and writing about what has become a Revolution in Horsemanship.

His personal contribution to this movement was a system of training newborn foals, developed over a period of 40 years, wherein, by shaping the behavior of the neonatal foal during its Critical Learning Times and Imprint Period, a permanently gentle and well-mannered horse could be produced.

In 1990, the author predicted that, by the turn of the century, this controversial and unorthodox Revolution in Horsemanship would prevail.

That prediction has come true. This kind of horsemanship (most popularly know as "Natural Horsemanship," because it is natural to the horse, utilizing its own communication methods) is now in use all over the world, and its popularity is growing explosively.

One reason for its success at this late date, when the internal combustion engine has virtually displaced the horse as a source of power and transportation and primarily reserved it as a recreational and companion animal, is the information explosion. Television, jet air travel, the Internet, e-mail, an increasingly literate and increasingly female horse ownership have all served to facilitate the spread of this technology.

Concurrently, the popularity of such books as The Man Who Listens to Horses, by Monty Roberts (Random House, c. 1995), and The Horse Whisperer, by Nicholas Evans (Delacorte Press, c. 1996), the motion picture, The Horse Whisperer, and several BBC and PBS documentaries have helped to accelerate the acceptance of Natural Horsemanship.

The training methods are intricate and required considerable study and experience. However, the information is available to all who work with horses, whether professionally or recreationally.