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Sanctuary Stables

Horsemanship – Building Trust and Respect

Understanding the Key Principles of Natural Horsemanship

Building Trust and Respect


Natural horsemanship is a method of horse training that emphasizes the importance of building a strong relationship between the horse and the rider. At the heart of natural horsemanship is the idea that horses are sensitive, intelligent animals that respond best to patient, gentle handling. In this article, we will explore the importance of building trust and respect between horse and rider and how natural horsemanship can help achieve this.

Understanding the Horse’s Nature

Before we can build a relationship of trust and respect with a horse, it is important to understand how horses think and communicate. Horses are herd animals that rely on nonverbal communication to navigate their social hierarchy. They are highly attuned to body language, energy, and the tone of voice. To effectively communicate with a horse, it is important to speak their language and understand their behavior.

Building Trust

One of the primary goals of natural horsemanship is to build a relationship of trust with the horse. Trust is built over time through a series of small, consistent actions. Groundwork is an essential component of building trust. This involves working with the horse on the ground, teaching them basic obedience commands, and establishing a bond through grooming and touch.

Consistency and clarity are key when building trust. Horses thrive on routine and predictability, so it is important to establish a clear routine and stick to it. Clear communication is also critical in building trust. Horses are highly attuned to body language, so it is important to be aware of your own body language and use it to communicate effectively with the horse.

Building Respect

Respect is the other key component of natural horsemanship. Horses are naturally inclined to push boundaries, so it is important to establish clear boundaries and enforce them consistently. This means teaching the horse what is and is not acceptable behavior, and correcting undesirable behavior when necessary.

Natural consequences are an important tool in building respect. When a horse behaves in an undesirable way, the rider should allow the horse to experience the natural consequences of their actions. For example, if a horse tries to push past the rider, the rider should use their body language to block the horse and prevent them from moving forward. Over time, the horse will learn that pushing boundaries results in an unpleasant experience and will be more inclined to respect the rider’s boundaries in the future.


In conclusion, building trust and respect is a critical component of natural horsemanship. By understanding the horse’s behavior and communication, and using consistent, clear communication and natural consequences to establish trust and respect, riders can build a strong bond with their horse. In applying these principles to their horsemanship practice, riders can enjoy a more fulfilling and rewarding relationship with their equine partner.