In the 80s the leisure horse world was taken over by the big stars - good horse people who had developed systems and methods and then gone ahead to market them. Now almost 30 years later most of these guys are still going strong and it is not unusual when you meet someone new to horses, that they begin by telling you, "I'm into so and so, I practise his methods", or, "I am going through so and so's programme''.
The established horseworld wasn't really touched by these new stars - they were happy with the way they were getting things done, and their lifetimes of history carried them through. I am one of the people new to horses and my historical interest is in the new 'leisure' horse world that has rapidly expanded during this time.
One of the reasons I find this whole thing so fascinating is that during the 25 years or so that I have been working with horses, the absolutely best horses I have ridden have always come from conventional, or old established ways of horsemanship. So what does this say about the new stuff - well, it's pretty confused, or at least most of the people involved in it are.
And here is why. There is a disasterous link between all the new stuff and the socio-political situation in the western world of this period. It's called, 'The New Age', and it doesn't work so well for horses. In fact I would go so far as to say, they don't like it. So why has something happened so strongly even though it's pretty obvious to a lot of people that it isn't working out. Well, mainly because it's a pretty good opportunity for a few people to make a load of money. If you can come up with a 'new' way of training horses that fits in nicely with what some would call a more enlightened view of life, and you have some marketing skills, then you are in business.
In the modern leisure horseworld there is a generic term, 'natural horsemanship'. It is actually meaningless because it is no more natural than all the other horsemanship that by default, it implies is unnatural, but it sounds good doesn't it.
I guess what I'm saying is, don't be sucked in to a load of commercial hype. Good horsemanship has been going on since man and horse met.
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