Steve Salerno points out in SHAM: How the Gurus of the Self-Help Movement Make Us Helpless the absurdity of the self-help movement. Even as the movement becomes more popular, and more books and seminars appear, more people are seeking self-help. If it worked surely there would be less market as its successes eliminated the market?
Failure and stagnation are central to all of SHAM. The self-help guru has a compelling interest in not helping people. Put bluntly, he has a potent incentive to play his most loyal customers for suckers. Yet it's even worse than that. Much of SHAM actively fans the fires of discontent, making people feel impaired or somehow deficient as a prelude to (supposedly) curing them. [...] They also featured a formidable, at times almost overwhelming, menu of ancillary products. Ah, the ancillaries. All major seminarists reap a substantial added windfall from their so-called ancillary products: the $10 workbooks, the $19 videos and DVDs, the $49 series of CDs and cassettes for the car, to give you that all-important motivational jolt during the commute to work. To keep the good vibes flowing once you're ensconced at your desk with your misanthropic boss hovering over you, there are the inspirational trinkets, like those $29 paperweights engraved with uplifting slogans. [...] Much the same could be said of SHAM. To a disconcerting degree, it is an $8.56 billion social crusade about nothing. It is a religion whose clerics get very, very rich by stating the obvious in a laughably pontifical fashion.
Just as the marketing aspect is overwhelming in the self help movement, so Natural Horsemanship demands constant and ongoing purchase of books, DVDs, seminars, training courses, improvement in levels and certifications, horse gear, belt buckles and all sorts of merchandising. Newspeak is also important here. Instead of a whip we have a "carrot stick". Whips have become "extensions of arms not whips". Of course, whips are associated with violence and cruelty (EoR points out that, used properly, they are never employed in a violent manner in training or riding, but simply as a reinforcement to apply cues more subtly or at a distance), and such things have no place in Natural Horsemanship. So whips are still sold, they're just coloured orange and given a funky name. "Carrot stick" means nothing different than "whip" to a horse. The name is simply designed to make the (human) buyer feel nicer.
Instead of lungeing reins, there are "savvy strings". These are a real marketing coup. As Natural Horsemanship devotees rise up through the ranks of their chosen church (make no mistake, just like religion, there are sects, breakway sects, and fanatical devotees in Natural Horsemanship) they're allowed to move further away from their horse on the long line. Rather than starting out holding the line at a shorter distance, you have to buy a longer rope every time you move up a level! Pat Parelli gets to sell the suckers a long line three times! And the suckers love it!
Monty Roberts, on the other hand, has foregone all the tedious work of actually selling overpriced stuff (though you can still buy his overpriced stuff if you want to) and is openly soliciting donations.
And, of course, if it works for horses surely it can work for dogs, school children, managers, or for behaviour management in humans. Even if it doesn't, it's a marketing opportunity.
Even in Natural Horsemanship, there are disquieting rumours about just how "gentle" such methods are. Monty Roberts has long been the subject of acrimonious accusations that his life story and achievements are not what they seem. Certainly, his method of stopping horses bucking (pass a string underneath the upper lip, attached to the saddle, so that it applies pain every time the horse lowers its head to buck) may be effective, but it is hardly "gentle" nor "nonviolent" nor "natural".
EoR has also heard people recommend, and seen demonstrated by a "natural" trainer what seems to be a standard turning aid: the rider's cupped hand is hit across the horse's eye to send him off in the opposite direction. EoR hates to think what would happen if the rider missed, but does not believe that this can be seen as in any way "natural" or "gentle".
And, if Natural Horsemanship is The New Way and so enlightened, why is it not Natural Horsepersonship?
Unnatural Horsemanship 1
Unnatural Horsemanship 2