The one thing that has always bothered me about the majority of the 'top' (or most well known) natural horsemanship methods, is that the majority of them don't ever even mention or address how the horse is kept.
When I was a teenager I attended a 5 day course hosted by a well known horse training organisation in the UK, and was upset to discover on arrival that the horses used for these courses had absolutely zero turnout while the courses took place. So for 6 months of the year they were confined to a stable sized pen, alone, and only allowed out when they were being used for demos or for clients on the course to practice these training methods.
When the horses came out, they just followed a pattern of movement of what they had already been taught. They were either dull behind the eyes and shut down, or explosive, with nothing in-between. One of the horses I was supposed to train got down and rolled as soon as I signaled for the horse to turn towards me in the round pen, which the instructor said was because he felt so calm around me, but I knew it was actually because he had been in a stall for hours, and as soon as the pressure was off, thats what he wanted to do.
It got me thinking...how can they possibly call themselves natural horsemanship when there's nothing natural about how the horse is living? When their basic welfare needs are not being met?
Over the years I've experienced and learnt about many different methods of horse training. I'll never be one to stick to a set method, but rather pick or choose the parts that work for me and my horse. The parts that I think are kind, fair, clear and consistent.
But if a trainer preaches natural horsemanship when their own horses don't even have their basic needs met, then it's not for me.
Choose trainers and methods that advocate for the horses needs being met through their living conditions, with the method or type of training being secondary to that.
Look at how their own horses are kept. Are their needs being met?
And second to that look at how their horses are trained. How they behave towards each other, whether their horses behave in a way you'd like your horses to be. It's very easy for "trainers" to build themselves a platform on social media nowadays, posting well written posts and carefully edited videos, but what are they and their horses like in the flesh? That'll tell you all you need to know.
After all, without a horse who happy and healthy both physically and mentally, how to we expect to get anywhere worth while with their training?
Pic of me and my boy at a clinic a few years back.