We had a discussion surrounding this video on the Equine Zooanthropology group I belong to, and I wanted to post it here for any further discussion and to call attention to it. This video by a well-known “natural horsemanship” trainer is a prime example of both so-called natural horsemanship (NH) techniques and learned helplessness in horses. Learned helplessness occurs when an animal is repeatedly subjected to an aversive stimulus that it cannot escape. Sooner or later, the animal will stop trying to avoid the stimulus and behave as if it is utterly helpless to change the situation. Even when opportunities to escape are presented, this condition will prevent any attempt to escape.
That unfortunately is the ultimate goal of the NH…a training methodology that has been lauded as safe, gentle, and natural for horses. It is none of those. It is every bit as abusive as blatant physical abuse…and perhaps even more so as this has long-term emotional affects. It does not take someone trained in behavior science to see this.
I am not singling this person out for attack – he is nothing more than a representative example of many who adhere to this type of training philosophy (although I’m sure his ego is big enough he would say he is quite different…)
We bring horses into our world, the least we can do is respect them as sentient, biocentric beings, which this man – and many others like him – is doing neither.