family and horse pics 2010 114


“Shaping the Will, without Breaking the Spirit”


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“Natural Horsemanship”………. could be the most over used and missed appropriated term to describe ones approach with the horse ever.” – Chris Bohenek

I’m pretty sure that if you were to ask the horse, he would tell you there is nothing “natural” about you putting your saddle, made out of a dead cow on his back, and then attempting to ride him. Keep in mind that we have asked  to enter the world of the horse, sometimes intruded ( law enforcement has a term for this ….it’s called breaking and entering)……..and this is why the horse is so special……..they receive us openly, as guests, without an invitation, just so long as your not rude or disrespectful to the host.

So……you might be asking yourself, what is my philosophy and method of schooling, when it comes to working with the horse?

My belief in the teaching of horses, is The path of least resistance cultivates the most growth and reward. Some might call this approach “Natural” and put me in that genre, and that is fine with me. I would much rather be in that group than the other. But the horse does not care what genre I say I am in, he cares more about how I go about communicating with him. This line of communication, is established most effectively and clearly through body language and the correct timing of the release. So I use horsemanship that is based off of the horses way of communicating and learning, with a strong influence in the traditional Vaquero/Californio style of horsemanship. Combine that with my personal approach and fundamentals of strengthening your core muscles to offer a quiet and rewarding experience that will leave horse and rider confident, safe and balanced.

To me, nothing is easier for a horse to understand than his own idea. If we approach each situation with the horses’ best interest in mind, we raise our percentage for success each and every time. I call this the Hunting and Gathering process, offering the horse a feel, and in doing so it allows the horse to hunt for a least resistant path. Finding the release he then gathers the information and stores it, giving him his own reservoir of knowledge that he can dip into each time he needs it. Knowing there will be a release each and every time resistance is applied will create a soft and willing horse.

When it comes to discipline within horsemanship philosophy, nothing is more suited than that of the Vaquero style. This approach demands patience, perfection and above all respect for the horses’ ability to learn. It never forces, but allows the horse the time he needs to learn each new phase with confidence and understanding. Now-a-days this style will start you in the modern snaffle bit, but traditionalists and purists alike, still choose to start with the phases of the rawhide hackamore or “bosal” then into the two-rein and finally into the coveted Spade bit bridle.



My personal belief is that there is nothing “new” about this style of horsemanship, or for that matter the so called “natural” horsemanship style. I feel that what can be learned and gained, simple relies on the abilities of the teacher to communicate their knowledge and understanding of their particular field to their students. As with all realms of education, teachers have different teaching styles, just as each student has a different way of learning, the student might be visual or hands on, or need a nudge or push at times, some might need constant support throughout the entire learning process, while others might need to be left alone to sort it all out in their own timely fashion. However it may be, it is important that the teacher recognizes these different attributes and finds the best way to reach his or her students and maximize their individual potential.

( If you have not realized yet, I am speaking of the horse and human, both being teachers and students. It is a mutual learning and educating process.)

It’ so important to me that people are successful in their horsemanship, that’s why I feel a person should be balanced in their core muscles, giving them the pillar of strength and balance to perform maneuvers without getting in their horses way or balancing their bodies

Chris explaining the benefits of the swiss ball, to clinic participants.
Chris explaining the benefits of the swiss ball, to clinic participants.

on the horses’ mouth.  This will in turn create a rider who’s horsemanship not only blossoms, but a horse who soon learns to have confidence in their partners abilities. “Trust leads to safety, safety leads to knowledge, knowledge leads to confidence.”

Chris Bohenek

P.O. Box 895

Corvallis, MT. 59828

(406) 370-9677(406) 370-9677