The horsemanship that my father (Karl Trösch +1982), taught me in my very early years, is based on observation, empathy and feel of and for the Horse at that very moment when you’re around him.
To him, it was natural and mandatory to treat the horses in the respectful manner like he did.
Back in his living years, the word “Horsemanship” or the phrase “natural Horsemanship” was unknown in Europe.
The way he tried to teach me how to behave around horses and to respect them as a fellow living being was very often rediculed as being not rough enough.
Still he showed me that it is better to think for myself and decide what seems best to me…
I like to call the ways and insides, I learned from my father, “Quality Horsemanship” just to distinguish his/my ways from the mass of “tricks and systems” that are massively available nowadays.
In a nutshell, Quality horsemanship is a philosophy which consists of understanding, communicating, respecting, educating, working and training with the horse in a way the horse is able to understand and learn at his own pace.
Guiding the horse through the process of learning instead of forcing him…
It’s all about Perception and communication…
Knowing how to read, interpret and respond to a horse’s signals, is of great benefit for your horse, your own safety and the quality of your horse-training.
Because you are responsible for your horse’s well-being hence, it is of great importance to your horse’s safety.
Understanding the subtle signs of the horse enables you to establish the desired connection to your horse and with that, the clear communication within the interaction between the both of you.
Knowing that the horse is a flight animal, it must be obvious that an unclear situation-setting, causes stress to the horse. Clear communication is of imminent importance to the horse’s well-being and his sense of safety.
It is clear that improving your horsemanship-skills inevitably adds considerably more quality to your Riding and handling.
The horse will be more responsive and trusting to you.
The horse, in its natural habitat, needs no humans. Not for food or protection. During millions of years, the horses developed to be perfectly well adapted to live and survive in the wild.
Horses use a very clear way of communicating with each other. If one observes a horse-herd, one will discover that they are always communicating. The complete range from Cheerful to deadly serious.
By using this way of communicating they were able to survive millions of years. We must acknowledge that this way of communication is very effective. Partially taught from mare to foal, and some of the responses are dictated by the instinct or experience.
Horses follow a certain hierarchy within the herd or band, which is necessary for the survival of the entire herd. By the rank order, it is possible to ensure the survival of the herd.
The Mare, highest in rank, of course, has her privileges, and she will receive the necessary respect of the herd members. But in case of need, she will also be the one to lead the flight of the entire herd.
She is the one that decides where to go, where to graze and when. In the wild, the lead Mare is not always the strongest, but very often the most experienced Mare.
Because of her position, the lead Mare receives respect but is also responsible for the safety of the herd. Her position is not fixed. By the time she becomes ill or less fit through old age, another herd member will try to take over her position. And this
“take-over” does not always happen very gently. In herds, where the living conditions are determined by the human, it is often the most aggressive Mare who claims the desired privileges.
The lead Stallion has a less nice position within the herd. His job is to keep other stallions away from his mares. The Stallion is always confronted with fights with other Stallions that want to kidnap his mares. Stallion fights are by no means gentle and can often cause serious injuries. If at any time during such a fight a Stallion gets crippled, he probably cannot flee fast enough if a predator is in sight. In case of danger for the herd, the Stallion will charge if necessary to protect the herd. Another task of the Stallion is to keep the herd together during the travel. The only reward for all this effort and risk is that he has the chance to pass on his genes to the next generation.
One of the strongest points of the horse is its intelligence. The horse is depending on the speed it can assess a situation.
In the wild, the Horse doesn’t have hours of time to think about if an up sneaking Predator is dangerous or not…
One might understand that the intelligence of a horse should never be underestimated!
One of the biggest differences between humans and horses is that the human is an omnivore and a predator.
Reviewing the evolution of the human, which is not as old as the evolution of the horse, the human evolved from a hunter and collector to a farmer.
The fact that we were hunters, (and with that also predators), is clearly visible for the horse. The human’s eyes are placed close together so we are able to focus on prey. Even our movements are very similar to those of other predators.
The very first contact horses had with humans was being preyed. Only later the human used the power and speed of the horse to its own advantage. The horse enabled the human to travel faster and longer distances with more baggage. Without the horse, human civilization probably wouldn’t have spread as fast and wide.
Considering the horse is a flight animal that is born and evolved to live on the open range. It was designed to survive without humans and in complete freedom. And yet, humans used the horse even as a weapon to fight other humans.
One can only imagine how much a horse has to trust a Human to fight other two-legged predators together. That naivety of the horse puts a huge responsibility on the shoulders of a true horseman. The responsibility to not shame this blind trust of the prey animal horse. A responsibility that has to be taken very seriously.
In fact, this naivety of the Horse can help – for example with a psychologically traumatized horse. If the right and honest horsemanship is applied, the horse can overcome his trauma way much faster than compared to many humans having the same problem. A horse will always opt for survival and is thereby dependent on his intelligence and ability to assess.
It is our responsibility as humans to honor and care for the horse using their abilities the best way we know-how.
The love I have for horses and dogs started early in my childhood. Like every human being, I faced countless challenges where the question arose: do I take the easy way, or do I take the right way
Of course, it was always very tempting to follow the mainstream and take the easy way out. But the few times I did that, the result was never what I hoped for. It never felt as if I had done the right thing.
It was my father who gave me the morals and fundamentals to develop my horsemanship techniques. My father taught me to think before I act. He taught me to only speak if I knew what I was talking about…
The more mature I became, the more I understood his teachings and was able to apply this/his (life)philosophy.
Dad tried to teach me to look into the horse instead of at the horse. He showed me where and what to look for.
This is how he showed me how to understand horses. He urged me to help those that are asking to learn.
I feel that my Father’s philosophies, teachings and the experience I have gathered myself through the years,
should be shared with others that are interested.
I can’t fix the world, but probably will be able to help the horse in front of me….
Once in a while somebody comes up with the question, “who would you advice or consider being a good Horseman”.
It is tricky and very difficult to answer that, because it doesn’t only depend on who is “good” but also what and who do YOU need?
So most of the time, I try to dodge that question.
Mainly because I don’t want to make fun about a lot of people in the industry. That is kind of hard for me anyway, because I do have a strong sense of humor and a very sensitive stomach when it comes to freeloading on another living being.
But when I really get cornered and someone really wants an honest Answer, I’ll answer;
If I feel I need help from a person who can teach me what I think I need, what do I do?
I probably go online and search for “Horsemanship”
It’s amazing to see how many hits my search engine produces on that query. Especially how many “Professional” trainers with loads of “Levels” almost jump in your face.
Thinking of those ads from people that graduated one or more levels on a method that is quiet famous, Left or right brained charted horses that suffer stupidity of humankind, always makes me think of those books that try to give you quick start on a subject.
You probably saw them too somewhere… “Cooking for Dummies”, “Word for Dummies” etc.…
And then I see a method, simmilar to that, being really spread for several years, which to me resembles the same drift…
Horsemanship for Dummies… Or people that chase a horse in a round pen just long enough until the horse is exhausted and gives up, comes towards the person who chased it, just to have some peace. Calling it a “join-up” afterwards and, as a reward for himself, wants a hug from the horses owner.
the way of the Vaqueroes…
The California Vaquero’s originated from Mexico. The California Vaquero developed a unique style of Horsemanship because, back then, California was very isolated. Surrounded by mountain ranges on one side and the Ocean on the other, so it was very difficult to reach.
The Spanish settlers in Mexico put their sights on the beautiful and fertile coastal California and they laid a trail of missions and monasteries from St.Diego to Sonora in 1769. The Padres (clerics) also brought a mass of cattle and a few Vaqueroes along. Originally, the natives (the Indians) were not allowed to ride a horse. But because the padres had too little Vaquero’s, they taught the Indians how to ride a horse. So that they could help with the cattle.
The Indians (native Americans) proved to be ideal for this work. They were athletic and had a great feeling for the rhythm of the horse. As a result, a large part of the original Californian Vaqueros were American natives. Over time they mixed breeds. The Mexicans, the Indians and the whites intermixed by marriages and other relationships. What the Vaquero’s let excel was not their ethnic origin but much more the urge to Excel in their work, the herding on horseback. The Vaquero took much pride in the velvet touch of his horse, the soft response and the controlled movements. The velvet response on the bridle-rein.
The Vaquero started the horse only from the age of 4 and the training of the horse could take from 7 to 10 years. The Vaquero were Horsemen who had their pride in their well-educated horses. Horses that respond to the finest signals. They put a lot of time, effort and heart in bringing up and training their horses. Before the age of 4, they only handled the horse once in a while from the ground. This way the horse had the chance to completely grow and develop without being disturbed by a rider.
This way of dealing with the horse was meant so that the horse was able to build trust in his rider. This was necessary for the Vaquero because he was completely dependent on the reliability of his horse in the open plains where he would work the cattle.
It even occurred that the Vaquero roped a grisly bear. You can imagine what a huge trust and precision was required. This was only possible if the rider and horse were completely tuned into one another.
The rig (The Tack) The young horse would be started with a hackamore. This way of starting (with rider) has the advantage, that the horse will not be directed with pain or discomfort by bit, but with riding signals. Signals that the rider must be able to transfer clear and understandable. To not cause confusion with the green horse. Another advantage, and maybe for some riders also a downside is, that one should be able to actually ride.
The Vaquero’s were quite handy folks, they mostly manufactured their own tools. The hackamores (Bosal with a Mecate) were mostly homemade. Also the reata, a lasso from “rawhide” was often braided.
Working the horse from the ground (groundwork) is the most essential part of the training for a fine and responsive horse. One prepares the horse from the ground for the work under the saddle. Before the Vaquero goes into the saddle, the horse can perform almost all the maneuvers without a rider on top. Obviously, the quality of the groundwork depends on the knowledge, skill and the empathic ability of the horse trainer. If a horse is not as sensitive to the aids, does not perform the exercises or maneuvers properly, it is never the fault of the horse …
Master-horsemen like Tom and Bill Dorrance, Ray Hunt and Buck Brannaman speak about “Riding with Feel”. This “feel” (feeling) is not just a nonsensical expression.
The “Feel” is the connection in the partnership between man and horse on the ground and in the saddle. It takes dedication, knowledge, and love for the horse.
The greatest reward for a horse is not the sweets that one offers him after a performed trick … The greatest reward for the horse is the heartfelt praise, the physical touch and the peace the rider is able to give his horse from the deepest of his heart.
Want to know more? Please feel free to contact me