What is Gentle Horsemanship?

What is Gentle Horsemanship?


What does Gentle Horsemanship mean to Doc and Cathy?

Photo of horse and three men examining rope halter

There is a growing public awareness about a revolution in horsemanship that is rapidly spreading across the globe. Many of the traditional methods of the past have become obsolete. A more horse-friendly and psychologically and scientifically superior way of interacting with, using, and training horses is now available to be learned and applied.

The people who make use of our services do so because they are ready to make the commitment to learning and applying the “horse friendly”, gentle, safe, and effective principles and techniques that we promote and teach. People are seeking the benefits of a deeper understanding of equines, higher levels of communication with their animals, and the ability to create a perfect relationship with their horse, mule, or donkey. They want to learn to take their partnerships with animals to a higher level, deal with the many facets of challenging “learning opportunities” horses present us with, and achieve their horsemanship dreams.

Man and Woman hapily working together to train a draft horse

We are in no way advocating that people not set boundaries with their horses, or not set high standards for behavior and performance. Rather we are talking about developing balanced relationships with equines in which the human earns the right to leadership by gaining not only the animals’ trust and friendship but also its complete respect. In return, horses willingly choose to agree to do as they are asked and we believe they actually enjoy doing so with and for their kind, gentle, softly assertive, trusted, and respected leader.

Doc with one of our Suffolk Punch mares, Lily.

Horses always have what they consider “good reasons” for what they do or don’t do. Their reasons and choices may not seem like good reasons or choices to us, but in their minds, the horses are positive they have good reasons and choices. Our job is not to argue with them about their choice or the reason for it, but to give them a better reason to make the choice we prefer or need them to make. Unless we can softly and gently offer them what they consider to be better options, and at the same time consistently create gentle and effective consequences when necessary, we cannot expect their behavior to improve – and most often it will get worse.

Man training a horse to drive