Natural Horsemanship program: from foal to bridle horse

Before I mention any exercise or method, before we get into practical work, I would like to develop some principles. A good horseman needs to understand and adhere to the philosophy before even thinking to start working with a horse.

Horsemanship Principles


– All commands are given with our body, no verbal commands, no threatening behavior.
– Make the wrong thing difficult, but not impossible, and the right thing easy.
– Always offer the good deal first, the firm deal second.
– Always keep the horse within your rectangle, offering it as THE safest place in the world.
– Controlling independently the hind end from the front end is a key to establish mutual respect.
– Always control the level of energy in the horse’s motion.
– Let the horse be a partner, thinking and taking decisions.
– Reward the slightest try.
One last thing, maybe the most important. If there is one thing to learn by heart, then it is Louis Armstrong’s words: “We have all the time in the world!”

With these principles in mind and that beautiful song ringing constantly in your ears, you can better understand the philosophy that lies behind these words: Natural Horsemanship or Horse Whisperer. This is a hedonist horsemanship!

That’s a big word, but it’s pretty simple if you forget all the clichés. The philosopher Michel Onfray has a good definition of hedonism: “an introspective attitude to life based on taking pleasure yourself and pleasuring others, without harming yourself or anyone else.”

That is, in my opinion, a good approach of life and people in general. Buck Brannaman, as his mentors Ray Hunt and Tom Dorrance before him, is a hedonist horseman as he shows everyday how you can interact with a horse without harming him ever. More than that, he shows that you can make the horse enjoy the moment. And that is exactly what I intend to do when I am with horses.

In a few words: never touch a horse with a whip, but only with a caress!


That is the most difficult part of all the program! You will have to question yourself, your way of life, your relationship to others, the status of animals and any other living beings, your priorities in life, etc. (“Why the heck should I think about all that when I’m with my horse?“)

FIRST STEP: you should put all your heart in building the foundation of your horse, that is the most critical step!

  • Desensitizing;
  • Backing up;
  • Lungeing;
SECOND STEP: a pleasant ride means being with a gentle, light, soft, responsive and respectful horse.

  • Flexing;
  • Moving the legs;
  • Seat positions;
THIRD STEP: you can always learn, improve your riding skills and become a better horseman.

  • Leg yielding;
  • Tear drop;
  • Side-passing;