Alternative Horsemanship

 What is Alternative Horsemanship?

Horse and rider Coach Samantha Harvey

Alternative Horsemanship horse and rider training approaches teach equine enthusiasts the awareness, recognition, and belief of the horse's communication and how to create a willing equine partner. Developed over three decades by Samantha Harvey, it is based on teaching introspection of the rider, rather than the common generalized, quick-fix, and 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 horses, they can practice the horsemanship skill-sets needed to offer specific communication toward their horse. Doing so offers non-critical thoughtfulness in the human and horse, or an "alternative" approach. 


Equestrian students learn to acknowledge both their own and the horse's behavior patterns. Increasing awareness of self-deprecating or distracting thoughts, emotional triggers (in both them and the horse,) and how to replace this reactive critical thinking with positive alternatives. The shift in rider's clarity allows them to make proactive decisions that offer the horse specific guidance and support. This helps riders learn to recognize potentially unrealistic expectations of their equine partner.


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. When the horse is continually coerced into physical compliance, and forced to contain his fear, eventually there will be an explosion of dramatic and dangerous behavior as he becomes overwhelmed.


Educating horseback riding students to understand their body language, clarify their intentions, and recognize the horse's responses helps the horse learn to participate reasonably and diminishes worried, fearful, or dangerous behavior.


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.


Horsemanship and horseback riding students are taught a combination of explaining horse behavior, and biomechanical riding concepts, and addressing the rider's mental focus to develop into supportive riders. 



"Thought I should tell you, though, how often I use the tools you give us.  Feeding, leading, loading, riding, it doesn't matter what I'm doing, I'm far more aware of what my horses are feeling and thinking, which (as you obviously know!) leads to better communication and a positive outcome.  I think the loading moments are my favorites...where is the brain?...come back to me!...oh, hello, you wanted what?  Thanks for expanding the horizons of both me and my horse." Marilyn, WA


"I have been riding and owning horses since I was 7 yrs old starting in 1976. I did most of the horse training myself learning via books and at various clinic lessons. Until I had some traumatic horse accidents these past five years, I realized, finally, that I was missing something and needed to approach the horse with a fresh attitude. I was ready to totally give up on my mare! Luckily, I heard of Sam and started working with her 3 years ago. I realized I lacked the profound knowledge needed to truly bond with my horses. To speak their language. To teach them to fully trust me and my leadership. My mare and I have a whole new relationship now. It's wonderful! We both look forward to being with each other. We slowed everything down, took a deep breath, and went back to basics. I am so thankful for Sam and her gentle, knowledgeable wisdom- Jemmie is thankful too!♡" Cassandra, CA