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Welcome to the world of Wild & Free horses

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the free spirit horses!

Thanks to IHP and our staff’s patient, constant work, all of these horses have been put back in shape and have become easy to handle and trustful. Then, little by little, we found new families for them, wonderful people who decided to take care of their future by adopting them.
Last week the last four yearlings have been adopted: Olimpique, Principe, Spirit and Luna have been taken to Jamal Amin’s beautiful estate, which already is the home of six other horses living in freedom. Jamal is the proof of how it’s possible to love and own horses without having to ride them: they will be companion animals for him and the tourists that will so be able to observe how horses live in freedom, approach them and interact with them. Moreover, Jamal has put his estate at our disposal for future natural horsemanship courses organized by IHP.
So goodbye guys, may you have a long and happy life all together… and away from the racing world!

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What is it?

So what is Natural Horsemanship?

Natural Horsemanship is meant to be, a psychology based training platform for horses and trainers, and it’s consists of five basic concepts. Psychology based means working with the inside of a horse instead of the outside (which many trainers still do).

The five basic psychology concepts of natural horsemanship are:

1. Approach and Retreat

The words “approach and retreat” refer to training confidence in a horse. Let me give you an example. If I notice my horse is scared of a saddle, I wouldn’t just throw it on his back and hope he gets over the fear issue. Instead, I’d throw it toward his back, then take it away to give him a chance to relax about what’s happening. Then I’d do it again, and again. Slowly, I’d swing the saddle a little closer, backing away each time until he relaxed. Ultimately I could place the saddle on his back with him staying in a relaxed and calm state of mind.

There are many variations of this concept, involving speed, size, expression, time spend toward or away, and positions, but the premise is always the same. Move toward, and move away and repeat until calm.

2. Pressure and Release

The concept of pressure and release is simple enough to explain, a little harder to apply in every detailed situation that arises, but here it is in laymen terms. If I notice my horse really does not want to follow me into the horse trailer, I wouldn’t just push him in with a tractor. Instead, I’d hold tight on the rope and as soon as he took one single step in the right direction I would release my grip on the rope to acknowledge his or her effort. Then I’d repeat the process. Tighten the rope, wait for a small positive response then loosen the rope when he starts heading the right direction. Timing is everything. Release at the wrong moment and he “might” learn the wrong thing. Release at the right moment and he “should” begin to learn the right thing.

Of course, there are many variations to this concept as well. Variations in the amount of pressure, the speed of pressure, the rhythm or steadiness of the pressure, the type of pressure (visual, tactile, or audio) the time the pressure stays before it changes, the type of release, amount of release, and time spent before restarting the cycle. However, the premise is always the same. “Pressure” motivates the horse and the “release” is an acknowledgment the horse is heading in the right direction. Anyone willing to invest just a short amount of time experimenting with pressure and release concepts will notice the benefits right away.

3. Rewards and Consequences

What motivates a horse? The carrot or the stick? Each moment is different for every single horse at any given time or space. That means one moment you have to use a carrot to encourage and reward a horse and the next moment you have to use a stick to push, prod or drive a horse. In natural horsemanship, both strategies are employed. For instance, if a horse steps on your toe, you push her away fast enough to make her feel that was a bad idea. And on the other side of the scale, if a horse shows good effort to perform a task, a reward will be applied to show you appreciate the effort. Ideally, trainers should be slightly more reward-oriented in their training styles, which isn’t always the case in natural horsemanship or many traditional methods. In “Mastery Horsemanship” (an all-encompassing training platform that crosses all horse industries) we actually encourage tipping the scales to reward-oriented training.

There are many variations to the reward and consequence concept. Including, but not limited to: the size of the rewards or consequences, the type of rewards or consequences, the speed at which they are applied, the timing of when they are applied or taken away, the frequency of application, the amount of time between corrections or rewards and continuing the task at hand, etc.

If you want to have some fun, pick up my book, Leadership, and Horses. Inside the book, I’ll give you three basic things that horses absolutely love, as rewards. Fundamentally, horses need rewards they understand. For instance, horses don’t really care for hamburgers or fizzy drinks.

4. Desensitization

Desensitizing a horse means, training him not to react in negative ways to challenging stimuli. In other words, building your horse’s confidence. If I notice my horse doesn’t like birds flying out of the tall grass while we’re riding down the trail, as a natural trainer, I will begin a specific program to take away his or her reactivity related to the experience. I might start riding with a dog, for instance, to simulate the coming and going of things at random in the tall grass. Or perhaps I’ll work with a flag or plastic bag, flashing it past his vision randomly, integrating rewards throughout the process. Also, only carefully involving consequences if he puts one, or both of us in harm’s way by moving in the wrong direction.

There are also many variations to this concept, including time spent in the program, how many sessions, how often, variations in rewards, intensity of stimulus, randomness or stimulus, type of stimulus, type of environment, whether or not the stimulus approaches the horse or the horse approaches the stimulus, and so much more.

The point is that horses benefit from desensitization of scary things. They need to be confident to carry a rider. Using approach and retreat techniques a natural horse trainer can build confidence quickly, for a horse who shows signs of fear.

5. Foundation Training

The Natural Horsemanship industry has most certainly cornered the market on the word “foundation”. Foundation means, the beginning or start. It also means a “building block” for success. It’s like kindergarten for kids. Horses desperately need a foundation before they are asked for higher levels of performance, and many natural horsemanship trainers have really good programs. So take a look at my article about trainers, to know how to find good trainers.

thanks to Don Jessop for providing us this definition:)

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The 5 Chairs Leadership approach

By Louise Evans

This powerful approach created by Louise and inspired by the teachings of Marshall Rosenberg of Nonviolent Communication, Thich Nhat Hahn and Eckhart Tolle uses 5 Chairs as a metaphor. Each chair represents a different viewpoint on the world, a different way to respond to life’s challenges. From each chair we experience different thoughts, behaviours, attitudes and energy which have a profound impact on the choices we make in every moment.
During the retreat we will explore each chair in depth an examine what choices emerge from the viewpoint.


Stay at Villa Poggio di Gaville and simply enjoy the presence of the horses

Children simply love to feed them:)

No requirement needed.
No preparation.
No equipment.
Just bring you love for nature and for the horses.

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Via di Gaville, 36, 50063 Figline e Incisa Valdarno FI, Italia

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