Naturally Dominant; Horse Versus Human

The word “natural” is big in the horse world, as in “natural horsemanship,” “natural foot trimming” and “natural care” for horses.  Nothing is natural in domesticating a horse, except for the horse itself, but natural practitioners try to get as close to nature as possible in care and handling.

Another big word is “respect,” and its evil twin “dominance.”  Respect is typically one of the first things trainers mention.  There is the standard warning to humans about the risk of working with large, unpredictable animals that can kick, bite and run them over.  Perhaps they should also include a warning to the horses about the risk of working with small, predictable animals who carry whips and chains and may use them rather casually.

In my limited experience as a student of the “natural” approach to horsemanship, every trainer that I have observed gets to a point with a horse that pushes them–sometimes literally–to “up the ante.”  This point could be described as “What happens if the horse fights back?”

Sometimes the horse fights back due to fear of the situation into which the person puts the horse–trailering, shoeing, leading past a gate, saddling, bridling, going over water and so on.

At least as often, the human fears the horse.  Racehorses “just off the track,” mustangs,  young horses, stallions, mares with young and geldings who were “cut late” get more than their share of attention in this area.  That does not leave many “easy” horses although I have heard of them.

So, what happens when push comes to shove?

Is it ever “safe” for a human to “let the horse win?”


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