Natural Horsemanship

There is a revolution going on in how we want to interact with and ride our horses. We no longer ‘break’ them to harness or saddle; we invite the horse to join us in a herd of two in which we are the confident & friendly leader. We learn to speak horse language, which is a combination of body language, focus, and energy; and we listen to what the horse tells us, so we become equal partners. Natural horsemanship is a natural and foremost practical way to interact with horses, in which mutual understanding and respect are central. At Havana Horses we combine Natural Horsemanship methods with Straightness Training.

Training consists of

Liberty Training

We connect with the horse at liberty, that is in total freedom, without tack and without force. Forming a little herd of two, we make the horse feel comfortable and eager to be with us by taking up the role of confident and friendly leader. Our methods are greatly inspired by the work of Klaus Ferdinand Hempfling, Carolyn Resnick, and Marijke de Jong (see Library). By learning to use the language that horses use themselves and therefore understand instinctively, we can communicate with our horse in a natural and subtle way. Being herd animals, all horses speak the same language. It is up to us to learn from and adapt our communication to the individual horse.
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With groundwork you practice a number of exercises with your horse, in order to establish your relationship based on your leadership. You invite the horse to walk curling around you, creating a lateral bend; halt; yield the shoulders and the hind quarters; indicate the way; make transitions to walk, trot and halt on a circle; backing up; standing square distributing the weight over 4 legs; flexing the neck; lowering the head in a forward down position, and lateral bending. Did you know that the circle is the most difficult exercise for the horse? In Nature, a horse will always go straight. On the circle, the horse's natural asymmetry will show itself! Our task is to help our horse stretch the shorter muscles and strengthen the longer muscles, as well as build muscles in the hind quarters.


Also in longeing we gymnastisize the horse - longeing has nothing to do with making the horse tired or getting the freshness off, by letting it run mindlessly in circles! Instead, we are building the body. We ask the horse to curle around us in a lateral bend, with a forward down tendency, and stepping under the center of mass with the inside hind leg. The more the horse is carrying with the inside hind leg, the more the horse will bend in a nice forward down, in order for the stretch over the topline to be complete from poll to tail.

Natural (or classical) Riding

A great point of focus in horse riding is to help the horse to carry its own weight, together with the weight of the rider, evenly distributed over four legs. In order to do so the horse should shift its weight more and more to the hind quarters. We achieve this by the use of proper, rebalancing half halts. Natural horse riding at Havana Horses entails finding your own balance (both mentally and physically) to become one with the horse's movements. To supple and straighten the horse, we ask the horse to move with LFS: lateral bend, a forward down tendency, and stepping under with the inside hind leg. For more information about our training methods, see also Straightness Training. We are building balance and strength both in horse and rider. Main goal is relaxation and fun for both rider and horse. Not only in the way we interact with our horses, but also in a relaxed and natural riding style. Barefoot and bitless!

Riding with LFS: lateral bend, forward down tendency, and stepping under with the inside hind leg

We ride our horses without bit, with a rope halter, a cavesson, or a bitless bridle. Before we start riding with a saddle, you ride with a bareback pad. Riding with a bareback pad helps you to develop an independent seat, to find your own balance and use your center or core for riding.

You can try riding with just a neck ring or even with nothing at all, only using your body language to communicate. In this manner you experience how you can communicate with your horse in a subtle manner. This natural style of riding is suitable for beginners and recreational riders, as well as for advanced and competitive riders.

Riding with tack... or with nothing at all

Barriers and Games

By playing games and barriers both you and your horse become more confident and you strengthen your bond, while you are having lots of fun!

Strengthen your bond