Natural Horsemanship Equipment – Why Use It?
By Brooklyn R Greig
One of the biggest questions I’ve heard when starting natural horsemanship is “why do I need special equipment? Why can’t I simply use my halter and lead rope, or a lunge whip instead of a training stick?” Ultimately we all want to know what the benefits are for using natural horsemanship equipment. Well, here they are! Take a moment to read the following items and why they benefit you and your horse.
Rope Halters – These are light weight and are hardly felt by your horse unless they need to be. They come with knots that rest on pressure points on a horse’s nose so anytime you move or swing your rope the horse has an opportunity to move away from the pressure, unlike a regular halter this allows you to communicate with the horse by using direct physical pressure in these areas.
12′, 13′ or 14′ Rope Lead – Air pressure is something you will use a lot of while training your horse to disengage their hindquarters or move their shoulders or other parts of their body away from you. To do so you will use the end of your rope to swing or tap the horse if the 3rd and/or 4th phases are necessary. You can do this with a regular lead rope but they are typically only 6′ to 8′ long which doesn’t give you a safe amount of distance between you and the horse you’re working with. Remember, safety first!
Rope Lead w/ Clip – The clip is not a necessity however it adds extra weight to the lead so while wiggling or swinging the rope the pressure travels quickly and easily through the lead to the knots on the halter. Clear and efficient communication with your horse is key so the combination of a rope halter and lead allows you to accomplish this. The clip also allows you to remove the lead when needed.
22′ Rope Lead – Used for more challenging exercises while your horse is at a distance. I find the weight of these leads is much more beneficial than a regular lunge line. Having weight in your rope allows for the softest and lightest communication.
Training Stick w/ String – A training stick is used as an extension of your arm to give you a longer reach. It is not used as a whip. The string can be used on the stick or removed and used separately. In addition, you can replace the string with a plastic bag or any other items to help desensitize your horse to new or “scary” objects.
Hackamores – Riding bitless is definitely my goal and a hackamore allows you to do this. This is a true test to see how in tune your horse is with you. This is definitely used for more advanced training although I think we could all benefit from learning to ride with a hackamore. Our horses would thank us!
Play Ball/Barrel/Stands/Cones – All of these items can be used to bring out the natural play drive in your horse. Get creative and have fun with these items!
These are the basic items you’ll need to start working with your horse naturally. Of course it’s possible to work with a regular halter and lead (that’s how I started with my horse) but you definitely receive more of the benefits from the equipment that is designed for the work.
Please take note that you can find cheap rope halters that are made out of nylon but these will fray and cause some pretty nasty rope burn so I recommend looking for double braided marine rope.
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