The Beartooth MT Ascent Natural Horsemanship -Equine Therapy Program
The Cowboy Natural Horsemanship Philosophy at Beartooth MT Ascent
Our Beartooth MT Ascent Program develops the minds, bodies and souls of troubled young men through active involvement in learning to observe, listen and then communicate with horses. At Our Ranch horses and good horsemanship are an essential reality in the full life cycle and care of our large angus cattle herd. From birth to the selling of yearling steers, Beartooth MT Ascent students assist in the working of cattle with the aid of the horse in the traditional cowboy spirit.
Horses play an integral role in our traditional styled ranch life. The Ranch at Beartooth MT Ascent has thirty-five head of horses for ranching purposes. We are very proud of our herd. Like the young men at Beartooth MT Ascent, these horses come from many backgrounds. They are primarily Quarter Horses, with some Arabian, Paint Horse, and Mustang breeding represented as well. It is amazing how quickly the young man will pick out a favorite horse among the herd. There is an old saying that goes, “The outside of a horse is good for the inside of a man.” This has proven true here at Beartooth MT Ascent.
Our horse program does not allow for one horse to be ridden continuously by one person. The old horsemanship philosophy is that, “Many horses make a horseman.” The young men learn how to feed, groom and care for the horses soon after they arrive. Some at-risk troubled teens have never been close to a horse—or even seen one in person—and the experience of close contact can contribute greatly to a young man’s healing process.
What is Natural Horsemanship?
Natural horsemanship is the philosophy of working with horses by appealing to their instincts and herd instincts. It involves communication techniques derived from wild horse observation in order to build a partnership that closely resembles the relationships that exist between horses.
There are countless “schools” or theories of natural horsemanship but the following ideas are common to most of them:
Horses are social herd animals, evolved for social interaction and the ability to escape predators. The horse has a highly developed communication system practiced primarily through body language. It is possible for humans to learn to use body language to communicate with the horse. Horses use ear position, head position, speed of movement, threatening gestures, showing of teeth and swinging of hips, and many other gestures to communicate. They are quick to escalate a behavior if early warnings are not heeded. Similarly, in natural horsemanship, the handler or trainer uses body language along with other forms of gentle pressure with increasing escalation to get the horse to respond. Horses are quick to form a relationship of respect with humans who treat them in this fashion; “firm but fair” is a motto.
Most natural horsemanship practitioners agree that teaching through pain and fear do not result in the type of relationship that benefits both horse and handler. The object is for the horse to be calm and feel safe throughout the training process. A horse that feels calm and safe with his handler is quick to bond with that person, and the results can be remarkable.
The human must be knowledgeable of the horse’s natural instincts and communication system, and use this knowledge in their work with the horse. At Beartooth MT Ascent the troubled teens learn from Natural Horsemanship Trainers this method of communication with the horse. This translates directly into how they communicate with the people in their lives. The students learn from the horse, very quickly how their non-verbal communication is translated by the horse. Horses cannot be manipulated or lied to they “see right through you”. Horses do not respond to intimidation or threats, they respond to the clear communication of respect, consistency, and leadership. Only when the young man communicates in this language will he become a trusted partner to the horse!
At Beartooth MT Ascent Our Staff and Students Learn From Observing Natural Horsemanship Experts
Our horse training Staff teach what is essential to be successful with horses based on the way horses relate and communicate in their natural world – hence the term “natural horsemanship.”
The natural approach to horse training is effective with all horse breeds, all disciplines and all styles of riding including Western, dressage, jumping, cross country, drag hunting, polo, racing, or simply happy hacking. It’s been embraced worldwide by horsemen and women of all disciplines and skill levels, from first-time beginners to international competitors and Olympic medalists.
Based on respect for and love of horses – and understanding horse nature and psychology – the natural horsemanship method enables anyone at any level to have fun with horses and achieve amazing results…naturally. natural horsemanship training avoids using force, fear, harsh bits or mechanical training aids in favor of love, language and leadership or, said another way: relationship, communication and trustworthiness.
The natural horsemanship method allows horse lovers at all levels and disciplines to achieve success without force, partnership without dominance, teamwork without fear, willingness without intimidation, and harmony without coercion.