Alternative Horsemanship horse and rider training approaches teach equine enthusiasts the awareness, recognition, and belief of the horse's communication and create a willing equine partner. For those unfamiliar with this horsemanship training approach developed over three decades by Samantha Harvey, it is based on teaching introspection of the rider, rather than generalized, quick-fix mainstream horse training offered in a 1, 2, 3 step type program. As equine students learn to recognize the root cause of unwanted behaviors in their horse, they can learn the horsemanship skill-sets needed to offer specific support toward their horse. Doing so offers non-critical thoughtfulness in the human and horse, or an "alternative" approach.
Equestrian students learn to recognize both their own and the horse's behavior patterns, self-deprecating or distracting thoughts, what emotionally triggers them and the horse, and how to replace these with an "alternative" mindset of making proactive decisions that offer the horse specific guidance and support.
Frequently riders have a degree of "I want," which dictates how they interact with the horse. This limits the rider's mental availability in learning to recognize potentially unrealistic expectations of their equine partner if the horse's basic lacked quality. Often the "modern-day" horse lacks quality education, has not been socialized, is suffering from pain and diet issues, and their exposure to the "real" world is limited.
I prioritize students learning how to read their body language (intentional or not) to clarify their deliberate behaviors and to recognize the horse's response and what indicators appear if the horse had defensive, fear, or anticipation due to them. The student learns how to help the horse work reasonably through his worried, fearful, or dangerous behavior.
My Alternative Horsemanship approach prioritizes creating a mentally available horse first, then physically asking him to perform. If a horse is stressed, fearful, or is concerned, physically asking more of him at his peak worry, teach him that humans will add pressure and critique rather than help him work through an unsure moment. If too much pressure is forced upon the horse coercing him to contain his stress, often there is an explosion of dramatic and dangerous behavior that follows.
My goal is to help students learn how to build a quality equine partnership based on mutual respect and trust. Riders learn how to have a "Conversation" with their horse to create mentally available, physically willing, and reasonable equine partners. Taking the time to address the seemingly minor details that can lead to significant "cracks" in the partnership allows a continual progression that empowers students to independently use their newfound skills to work with their horse in the "real world," irrelevant of their chosen discipline.
I use a combination of explaining horse behavior, classical riding concepts, and addressing the rider's mental focus to help students become supportive leaders to their horses.