Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Natural Horsemanship: Kind, Gentle, Deadly

Natural Horsemanship is usually promoted as a more understanding, kinder method of training horses in contrast to "traditional" horse breaking which is pictured as cruel, violent and harmful (if a horse is broken in properly, none of those things are true - but we're up against the same mindset that alternatistas seem mired in where "traditional" is evil and "touchy feely" is always right).

In a recent example of this, a group of wild horses were taken from a remote outback station to be trained 'naturally' (by people paying money for the privilege of working for the horsebreaker under the idea that this was some sort of newage 'experience').

The following information (tucked away in hoofbeats as a letter to the editor in the Green Horse section) is not mentioned anywhere on the relevant site or its associated propaganda companion.
I was enjoying reading your magazine as usual - until I was half way through the Wild Horse Update. People get a bit excited when they find these Wild Horses that have been abandoned by the station and start labelling them as Walers, ASH's or Stock Horses. [...] The training program has certainly given people a unique opportunity to hone their skills on untouched horses. Yet one would have to wonder, after watching the dramatic confrontation between man and stallion - knowing that particular old stallion has died and the younger one died in the yards at the station - is submission for these horses a fate worse than death?

The Editor responds:
A spokesperson from the program advised that fourteen horses were caught in the original muster, and yes, three died on the station, including one stallion. From the attending vet's point of view these deaths were due to the culminating effects of starvation and malnutrition, and possibly Ephemeral Fever. [...] The death of the older stallion Rex, at Margaret River, while lamentable, could have been a result of any number of factors, including the fact that he was an aged horse.
[...] Of the nine that survived, four were sold after the Horses and Horsemen clinic.

So four dead horses. Four sold. A triumph for natural horsepersonship. Rex is still there on the Horses and Horsemanship site, looking all touchy feely with the horse killers - sorry, horse breakers. No mention on that site or the other one
about the deaths.

EoR is not a veterinarian, and hesitates to disagree with a veterinarian's diagnosis, but Ephemeral Fever seems an extremely unlikely cause of an equine death since it is a specifically bovine disease. Maybe the animals were in such a poor condition that the veterinarian had trouble telling just what they were.

And this person has the gall to talk about the "science" of
understanding and developing horses and uses this knowledge to educate, challenge and develop both people and horses.

A lot of developing going on there. Sounds like he's developing them into carcasses. And then these people have the
pretension to form "academies" complete with a "syllabus".

As he says "Horsemanship is a good way to practice seeing natural processes."


  1. I tend to get really steamed when quackery and pseudoscience's victims are:

    Mentally handicapped
    Non-human animals

    They typically can't raise a protest.

  2. Quote from their website: "For Rex, finding comfort in his new-found bond with Sam was liberating. For the first time in his tough 30 year life, since foalhood, he could safely trust another creature to be so close."

    The bond was so liberating Rex's soul was freed from his body. I detest this newage anthropomophism.

  3. sorry - dropped an "r"


    should avoid these long words...


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